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Managing Virtual Employees: The New Normal

Our offices are empty and employers are now grappling with the new reality of their teams working virtually. Although virtual options have become more common in the past decade, hovering around 4% of the workforce, companies are facing new challenges with the majority of their employees now working virtually within a COVID 19 world. Forbes Coaching Council offered 15 best practices tips to help managers embrace, engage and ultimately lead a remote workforce.

1. Set Clear Expectations Be intentional about your expectations and be clear about how you communicate and how you will measure employees' success.

2. Treat Remote As Local In the current stressful environment, try to give your remote employees as much access to you as possible. 3. Engage Regularly Engage your remote workers on a daily basis through some kind of communication. Use multiple channels to communicate. Then, plan a regularly scheduled face-to-face meeting.

4. Schedule Video-Based Coaching Consider meetings that give you the option to have face to face interaction whether through Zoom, Skype or some other platform.

5. Trust Your Team Trust has to be there in a virtual employment relationship. To facilitate that trust, set up work-from-home guidelines that will work for your team and your organizational expectations and norms.

6. Make It Feel Inclusive Consider assigning remote staff with a local point of contact where communication and connection are valued.

7. Filter For Mission, Values, Outcomes, And Role Use Mission, Vision, and Values to help get all remote workers aligned. This will keep them truly motivated and working with you longer and more productively

8. Have Reliable Tools First If remote employees can't download files, struggle hearing on a conference call, and consistently receive meeting invitations for times when they are still asleep, you have failed to address the basics. First, invest in reliable tools to make collaboration possible. Then develop clear processes to use such tools.

9. Stay Focused On Goals, Not Activity It is important to manage expectations and stay focused on goals when embracing a remote workforce. Don't worry as much about what is being done. Instead, concentrate on what is being accomplished to ensure goals are being met. Productivity looks different for remote workers.

10. Be Intentional Create a remote workforce atmosphere of engagement and genuine connection. Be intentional in preparing and orientating employees for the remote workforce culture. Establish clear expectations. Make each team meeting count with intentional purpose and opportunities to engage and contribute in a variety of ways. I

11. Create A Communication Strategy Managing a productive team remotely begins with a strategy for communication.

12. Avoid Multi-Tasking Figure out how to avoid multi-tasking. Video conferences instead of phone conferences work well.

13. Connect Their Goals With Yours Be willing to have the conversation and continue the conversation around the employees' life goals and how those goals might be fulfilled in their work environment.

14. Use Technology To Build Community Building a community is important in developing an engaged remote workforce. Use technology to create dedicated spaces for celebrating special days (e.g. birthdays), company milestones (e.g., months or years of service), as well as community recognition. B

15. Establish Close Bonds, Help, And Support Frequently For leaders, check-in frequently (daily) using collaboration tools, shared docs and spreadsheets, phone calls, chat, and video to invest in the relationship. Show you are interested in them and their unique needs.

For specific training and team engagements on how to effectively manage virtual employees, connect with AAG to discuss.

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