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This is the most important factor when managing remote employees. You must maintain constant communication with your employees who are based away from your local office. Whether is it via email, telephony or video calling.
Regular communication with keep you in tune with your employees. Your employees will feel part of your team and create a sense of belonging. As creator of an outsourcing company, I have seen that employees usually lose motivation, or a sense of belonging with the company they work for when there are prolonged gaps in communication
It is with the help of modern technology that we can have remote employees. Use technology to your best advantage to manage your remote employees. Find out the best medium that suits your business need. i.e. is video calling just slowing your down and too disruptive and time consuming? Are telephony methods not effective enough? Would web cast be a better approach?
The tools your employees use to work remotely can also build rapport, below are a few suggestions I from my own experiences of running an outsourcing firm:
1. Start an email newsletter. The newsletter should aim to capture a variety of information, from putting faces to names, to accomplishments to company direction and future plans.
2. Chat is a great way for people to get to know each other during their lunch hours. A chat system either on your website or a third party exclusive to your company personnel will allow remote employees from different locations to mingle and get to know each other, creating a sense of belonging.
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Hiring remote employees is the easy part, managing remote employees is the hard part. Unless you have effective management methods in place you may find your outsourcing efforts are not materializing as well as you would liked it to have.
3. Host a blogging network, this will allow people to interact in their own time as well enable networking. At Sun Microsystems, CEO Jonathan Schwartz blogs several times a month. Employees pose questions and he answers them, making him highly visible and accessible.
4. Instant Messengers are a great to stay connected with remote employees. It allows you to communicate with everyone real time, either solo or in conference. It is also a good tool to ensure the employee is actually at the desk working!
5. Use PowerPoint for introductions. At Autodesk a web conference is held few times a year where each employee gives a personal PowerPoint presentation, covering a variety of competencies, knowledge, issues, thoughts and ideas.