At First Business Bank and in my prior work life, I have had the opportunity to manage employees or teams who work in different locations. During the pandemic, this obviously became standard operating procedure for many managers. At First Business Bank, we had remote employees previously for many years and will continue to add them as we invest in smart growth.

Over time, and since the pandemic started, I developed a few techniques that help me be more effective and hopefully help employees feel more connected to our organization. Here are some strategies that have worked well for me:

  • Set up regularly scheduled video meetings and prepare agendas that cover all topics you’ll discuss ahead of time. Regularly scheduled 1:1 meetings are important for all managers with their employees. These meetings are even more important when you don’t work in the same location as your team member because you don’t have the benefit of informal updates and other communication that occurs when you’re in the same office.
  • Use video conferencing, phone, instant messaging, and emails to communicate regularly outside of scheduled 1:1 meetings.
  • Set expectations and communicate them clearly. There are not as many chances to provide additional feedback, so it is important to communicate clearly when you have the opportunity.
  • Encourage employees to reach out to you as needed. Being available and responsive via video conference, phone, instant message, or email is particularly important when managing from afar. Update instant messaging software daily to let co-workers know when you are available and how to contact you. 
  • Make the most of in-person visits. When traveling to other locations, maximize face-to-face time with as many people as possible. In-person communication is critical to building trusted relationships.

My colleague Tracey Hulick and I discussed our strategies for managing a remote workforce in an episode of The First Business Bank podcast. We’ve both managed remote employees before the pandemic, so the podcast covers what has changed since then and what works best for us. Take a look and feel free to share ideas with us that have worked for you.