Fast Company: Raising the Bar for Remote Workers and Contractors (15 Tips to Try)
October 24, 2022
We are syndicating the original article from the Fast Company Executive Board.
Creating higher workflow standards and accountability across the board, empowers everyone to strive for success.
When you are overseeing a company that depends 100% on remote workers and contractors, it’s important to develop a transparent operating system that requires each stakeholder to remain accountable for their workflow.
In addition, building stronger team relations that are not solely focused on work-related issues is essential to enhancing a business environment that fosters support with higher-performance levels, comradery, and genuine trust.
Here are 15 ways that Fast Company Executive Board members have improved their management methods to keep their organization and processes running smoothly between leaders and their direct reports.
1. COMMUNICATE CLEAR EXPECTATIONS.
Stay committed to your actionable goals. For example, when you or anyone submits a request, it’s important to express what is expected, why it matters, and what the deadline is. It enables the person receiving the information about expectations to acknowledge it and either negotiate the parameters or agree. By providing clear communication, you no longer operate on unexpressed assumptions or reservations. Everyone is on the same page. – Tevis Trower, Balance Integration Corporation
2. HOST NON-WORK-RELATED DIGITAL HANGOUTS.
Outside of 1:1s and team standups, it’s key to host non-work-related digital hangouts (games, happy hours, and more). This creates comfort and camaraderie among remote teammates. – Suchit Tuli, Quantime
3. CREATE A SUITABLE TRACKING SYSTEM.
Keep weekly information recent and relevant to each stakeholder, and show how each of their contributions have affected the status of the overall program. Maintain an understanding of what everyone does by keeping track (due dates, percentage complete, dependencies) of the input and output for each stakeholder. You are the glue that holds the team together. – Alice Hayden, H2 IT Solutions
4. FOSTER AN INCLUSIVE AND UNITED WORK ENVIRONMENT.
It is crucial that hybrid meetings incorporating remote partners and talent offer the same casual networking as their in-person co-workers. From a management POV, establishing equitable and genuine relationships with all our people is key to a positive work environment. A team united under an inclusive manager fosters better communication, closer personal ties, and real in-person networking. – Ryan Simonetti, Convene
5. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING.
It’s important to document everything. Instead of verbally relating information to remote staff and contractors, create a shareable document accessible to the right people. And use a tool like Loom that lets you record quick videos and share them with people. You can use it to share instructions and ideas, make corrections to people’s work, and more. You don’t have to wait for a meeting to communicate effectively. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
6. USE 1:1S TO INCREASE EMPLOYEE RETENTION.
The weekly 1:1 is very common. What is less common, however, is alternating between work discussion and non-work discussion. Every so often, use 1:1s to get to know each other deeper instead of talking about work. Relationship building strengthens employee retention and enhances productivity at the same time. – Kevin Shtofman, NavigatorCRE
7. LISTEN MORE AND TALK LESS.
It’s important to check in regularly, and it’s even more important to check in even when you don’t have an ask. My goal with these check-ins is to talk less and listen more. I want to know how they are feeling and what they need from me to be successful. I also want to know what’s working and what’s not, and what other resources they need to continue learning and keep innovating. – Kristi Melani, Telesign
8. REMEMBER TO FOLLOW UP.
The fortune is in the follow-up. Some follow-ups can be automated with systems and software, while others require leadership to request detail directly from employees. Either way, smooth operations require regular communications and requests for information. – Tyrone Foster, InvestNet, LLC
9. EMPOWER PEOPLE TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY.
Obviously, checking in with contractors and remote staff is critical, but so is trusting these individuals to take control of projects. You’ll never know what people can deliver if you don’t empower them to truly take control of the projects assigned to them. – Camille Preston, AIM Leadership, LLC
10. SCHEDULE MEETINGS FOR THE RIGHT REASONS.
Treat meetings as a conversation among peers, not as a scheduled time to be the boss. If you’re the boss, everyone knows it already, you don’t have to remind them. If they don’t figure out that you’re the boss on their own, then you’re doing something wrong. Determine whether you need a meeting or an email. Meetings are for problem-solving; emails are for instruction. – Wyatt Clouse, Rearden Consulting
11. SET OTHERS UP FOR SUCCESS.
The best way to keep things running smoothly with contractors or remote staff is to make sure that they are set up for success. This includes providing them with clear expectations, an effective communication plan, and a good work-life balance. – Kristin Marquet, Marquet Media, LLC
12. UTILIZE KPI METRICS TO GAUGE PERFORMANCE.
The best management practice is to keep all remote staff accountable and responsible for their job scope and the results yielded from it. Because contractors and remote staff might not be as vested as full-time physical employees, we have to anchor them to KPI metrics where we measure their action and effectiveness so we can constantly promote or maybe demote them, assuming they have fair timelines. – Royston G King, Royston G King Group & Companies
13. WORK IN SPRINT CYCLES AND CREATE ACTION BOARDS.
Our team is 100% remote, including contractors, so we have to be very organized and transparent. We break everything into two-week sprint cycles and create action boards with assigned owners, and due dates. This kind of transparency also allows people to pick up something extra, if they have the bandwidth to help out their teammates. – Leigh Dow, Identiv
14. STRIVE FOR TEAM ENGAGEMENT AND COLLABORATION.
With respect to contractors, mitigating the risk of co-employment laws will help maintain smooth operations. A co-employment misstep can result in costly claims. However, this requires a delicate balance of not alienating contractors from the team. Instead, strive to enable intentional, seamless team engagement with workflow-specific collaboration. – Britton Bloch, Navy Federal
15. REPURPOSE YOUR MEETING STRUCTURE.
Implementing efficient, purposeful meetings is an important best practice in remote teams. I’ve killed the recurring 60-minute meeting at our organization. We provide ample background information in advance or sometimes in place of live meetings. This is usually in the form of a one to two-minute on-demand video. This enables authentic communication in a format that can be viewed anytime, anywhere. – Rose Bentley, Qumu Corporation