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What Remote Workers Wish Their Bosses Knew

By Sanya Weathers

I asked my Mod Squad colleagues to share what they want their managers to know. If you might be managing a remote employee this coming year, and you’d like to know what we’re really thinking, read on. It won’t take long. It comes down to just two points, really.

We work harder because you can’t see us, not the other way around. Some employers hesitate to hire remote employees, because of a perception that people who aren’t watched are less productive. There’s another group of people who have heard this canard: The remote employees. And as a result, we knock ourselves out to prove that unwatched does not equal unaccountable. We put in more hours, and we’re willing to make ourselves available at every moment we are not actively sleeping.

One of my colleagues, Susan South, made this point so well that I just want to quote her. “I want the boss to know that because I’m so grateful for the advantages of home, I’m far more likely to “go the extra mile” for the project.  They get BETTER work, because I’m at home.  If it was a matter of driving to an office to handle a small detail, it would wait until morning, or after the weekend.  But because I’m here, I’ll get out of bed to handle it, I’ll run from the shower to handle it, and I’ll be late to a party to handle it.”

Communication is a two way street. We’re out here making ourselves accountable, sending data your way, working weird hours so that the home office in another time zone wakes up to a nice pile of completed work, and in return we get…well, a pretty scary amount of time, we get nothing. Keeping us in the loop takes a little effort, but looping us in multiplies our effectiveness.  Talk to us every day, even if it’s just a quick status update email or a ping on IM.

Subsections of communication:

— Problems. Remote employees tend to learn about performance problems far later than onsite employees get the warnings, and yet the consequences for someone offsite are greater than they are for an onsite employee. Half the time, the entire concept of working remotely for your company is at stake! Don’t let any kind of problem go unsaid. The minute we’re deviating from expectations, give us a call.

And as a side note, if there are problems with the company, call us then, as well. We often hear bad news from other employees on instant messenger and Facebook before we hear it from you.

— Praise. We rarely hear any praise. Out here in our basements, we don’t need constant back patting, or we wouldn’t have chosen to work remotely. A single pat on the back is enough to keep us going for months. If you mention our names in meetings, shoot us an email to let us know. If you mention us often enough, why not include us in the meetings via conference call? But however you choose to do it, we’d love to hear that our efforts to exceed expectations are actually, you know, exceeding your expectations.

— Feedback. You’re giving your other employees feedback through body language, offhand remarks, and facial expressions. With us, we need the occasional phone call. Are we on the right track? We honestly have no idea unless you tell us.

With modern technology, good planning, and a commitment to internal documentation, remote employees can be a tremendous asset – and as a group we’re eager to prove it to you.

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Talk Back

Posted on March 15, 2011

Very well said that Communication is a two way street. Web based time sheets and status reports or a time tracking software like TimeMerlin (www.timemerlin.com) can make the ride smooth and communication flow easy and free. It will give the management team more confidence on their remote team. As well as remote team can easily keep track of their achievements and measure the productivity and efficiency. Give it a try!!

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