By Robby Slaughter

Video chat communicationMore and more of the workforce is taking their work out of the office and into their homes, coffee shops, and beyond. Whether a member of your team is 100% remote or in the office a few days a week, it can be challenging to provide quality coaching and support when you don’t see someone face-to-face. Here are a few tips for engaging a remote worker.

Scheduled Check-in Calls: You can do this daily or weekly, but consider a precisely timed, 5-minute recurring call to check-in. This serves the same function as the “how are you doing” comments that people make when they pass each other in the office, but creates a structured way to see if there is anything that needs attention. Be sure to ask how the person is feeling (since health affects productivity) and also if there are any wins or challenges to discuss. Finally, get the call done on time and move on with your day.

Share the Screen: Often, face-to-face meetings involve looking at the same document at the same time. If you’re talking about a project or a spreadsheet or even reviewing a website, consider using screen-sharing software while you’re on the phone. Although technically both people could be looking at their own copies, this ensures that no one is lost—and that both parties are fully engaged.

Reminder: Affirmations and Compliments: You probably use all kinds of little systems to remind yourself to do things, whether it’s sticky notes or to-do lists or multi-colored flags in a binder. Add one more to offer affirmations and compliments to you remote team members. Tell them they are doing a good job and you appreciate them. This might happen more organically when you see coworkers in person, so make a note to intentionally do this for those individuals you only connect with remotely.

Avoid Deadlines. Use Collaboration Zones: A tendency with remote workers is to structure everything around deadlines. This can be attractive to managers and employees alike, since it means that you won’t be bothered with the back and forth of a project while it’s underway, and instead will only see the outcome. The downside of this approach is a lack of transparency and a risk that you won’t know the work is off track until it’s too late. Consider using collaboration tools like Google Docs or DropBox so that everyone can see progress as it’s being made.

These tips can make a huge difference when coaching your remote workers. Give them a try!

At The Remote Leadership Institute, we have many resources that can help as well, including our Effective Remote Coaching and Feedback on-demand course. Check it out and learn more here.

About the Author

Robby Slaughter

Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. Robby runs a business improvement consulting company. His focus is helping organizations and individuals to become more efficient, more effective and more satisfied at work. Robby is a regular contributor in several regional magazines and has been interviewed by national publications such as the Wall Street Journal. His latest book is The Unbeatable Recipe for Networking Events. You can read more and see a complete list of books here.

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