Whether you’re just starting off with your first virtual employee, or you’re managing an entire remote team, you may find that onboarding and everyday tasks need to be handled a little differently than they would be with your in-house staff. This shouldn’t be viewed as a negative, just a different, as there are quite a few things that you can do as the employer to help guarantee your remote employees’ success.
So how do you empower a virtual staff to ensure they have everything they need to help your business succeed, right at their fingertips?
Provide Great Training
If you’ve had or have in-house employees, you may have relied on a “watch and learn” mentality when it came to onboarding or training. With remote workers, this obviously can’t be the approach. Because your remote employee is not in the same environment, you’ll need to provide adequate training via documents, video, meetings etc. on how exactly you’d like things to be done. I understand that this can seem daunting at first due to the fact that it’s a bit time-consuming, but don’t fret! This is a small investment in time that will give you huge returns.
Once your virtual staff knows how you prefer things get done, you can completely remove that task from your mind, knowing that it’s being done to the same quality as if you were doing it yourself. Be sure your remote staff keeps up with recording and updating all your processes, and from then on, they can onboard other remote staff using the same training materials!
Get Them Set Up On ALL Your Systems From the Get-Go:
Once you’ve established some trust with your remote staff, set some time aside to grant your remote employee access on every system or network you think he or she may use while working for you. Have an internal drive? Get them remote access via a program like Microsoft Remote Desktop or LogMeIn. Think they may need into your Dropbox, or social media admin permissions? Do it now. You’ll thank yourself later when you’re ready to get started on a project, and don’t have to pause to get your remote worker access to things they need. Doing this at the beginning of your working relationship prevents time-sucks down the road and helps keep you both organized.
You hired your remote staff for a reason. You may feel completely overworked or overwhelmed, so let your remote staff truly take that burden from you! Take a few weeks to get to know your virtual employee and build trust. Once you’ve gotten to a point where you are comfortable with them making decisions in their position, make it clear that they can proceed on certain tasks without asking permission, which can save you a lot of precious time! This is super important for your remote over in-house staff, as getting permission requires an electronic communication and response, vs. a quick trip to your office to get the “OK.”
If your remote employee is performing well and producing great results, make it clear that you appreciate all the effort. Which leads into the next point…
Make Them Feel Like Part Of the Team
Be sure your remote staff feels like they’re part of your team. If they feel personally connected to your business, they are more likely get invested in the work. Celebrate their successes, make time for face-to-face interaction through video conferencing, recognize their efforts publicly—anything you can do to build a personal relationship with your remote employee will go a long way.
Personally, I love working from home, but I’m not sure I’d love it as much if I didn’t feel like an important part of my company’s team and culture. I get to know my fellow co-workers through Skype and Slack, I get weekly updates on what the company is up to, and I get greeting cards on almost every holiday. These small things have helped build a healthy and productive environment for me as a remote worker. And in turn, gets me excited to help propel our business forward each day.
In closing, remember that a remote staff can do a lot of wonderful things for your business. But it’s up to you as an employer to give them the opportunity! If you’re nervous or feel you don’t really know how to get started, find an experienced remote employee who will be able to guide you in the process of figuring out how to begin training and documenting procedures. It will take a small investment of your time in the beginning, but be reassured that it will result in a huge payoff for you and your business in the long run, in productivity, time saved, and stress reduced!
Audrey Fairbrother is the Marketing Manager for Worldwide101, a premium virtual assistant company that matches talented, dedicated VA’s to demanding founders and executives. She enjoys working remotely from gorgeous Colorado Springs, CO.