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Beginner’s Guide To Managing Virtual Employees

Hiring virtual employees could be quite unfamiliar to some businesses, especially to those who have never tried this setup before. People often worry about how hard it is to monitor their overseas staff and they tend to think that a setup such as this is very strange compared to the usual where you have all your staff inside your office.

Honestly, this setup isn’t too different from the usual office setup. The main difference is the medium of communication between you and your staff. Instead of a face-to-face meeting, you have to rely on Skype, Google Hangouts, or other applications instead.

Beginner's Guide To Managing Virtual Employees

So, how can you manage your virtual team if it’s your first time? Here are some tips you could use:

#1. Schedule regular meetings

Set regular meetings online with your virtual team. Use these meetings to relate to them their specific duties and responsibilities. Utilize these as goal-setting sessions too to direct them to certain expectations and to adjust to their capacity as well.

Use video calls offered by various applications so your online meetings would feel as if you’re just having it face to face. As mentioned earlier, technology is making communication, even to overseas places, easier than ever.

#2. Maximize online file-sharing and applications

For better collaboration, use new file-sharing softwares to effectively share your documents within your team. Currently, there are a lot of options when it comes to sharing and storing your files online. You may use the conventional emails where you can attach files to every email or you use simple cloud storage such as Google drive, Dropbox, Mediafire, etc. These cloud storages can be shared by your team and can be accessed by all staff in real time.

Again, the key here is taking advantage of technology because it provides us with a lot of useful applications and programs that can definitely help. The internet also works wonders in aiding businessmen across the globe.

#3. Engage your team in communicating with you openly

In any kind of workplace, engaging your employees to communicate with you freely and productively will definitely help your team to work harmoniously. Communicating freely means eliminating the communication barrier between the boss and the employees. In an environment which communicating freely is practiced, sharing of ideas, innovations, and relationships are improved.

To do so, you must encourage them to talk first. This will help to ease them into sharing their thoughts about the topic being discussed. Most of the time, when the boss shares his idea first, the employees tend to just agree and keep their ideas to themselves instead. Of course, by doing this, you must always keep an open mind and discuss your ideas along with their ideas. Do not outrightly dismiss an employee’s idea if you think it’s not helpful. Discuss the ideas openly as your staff’s idea might just get along well with yours.

Always keep an open mind too, especially on suggestions that your employees are sharing. Likewise, whenever they find a goal hard to achieve or if they have other concerns. This way, you build a really good relationship with your virtual team.

#4. Emphasize on trust and respect

Trust and respect is very important in any kind of working setup. This helps build a harmonious and peaceful working environment even in a remote setup. In achieving the goal to build this culture in the workplace, we must do our share in promoting such. As the sayings go, “Trust is earned” and “Respect begets respect.”

It is definitely okay to trust your overseas staff and leave them to their responsibilities. You don’t need to be checking up on their every action and asking them about what they’re doing every minute. Instead, you may monitor their progress from time to time using the technology some outsourcing companies offer.

Expect respect from your staff if you treat them respectfully as well. As mentioned earlier, respect their suggestions and ideas and do not debunk them outright if it clashes with yours. Speak to them with grace and not as if they are beneath you.

#5. Appreciate

Appreciation is actually a great motivation for employees. Whenever our efforts are appreciated, the more we tend to work harder. It is actually human nature that we tend to look for appreciation and gratification for our work.

Show appreciation to your staff every now and then and whenever they meet or go above the goal. That will motivate your staff to exert more effort and give more to their job.

Now, there are quite a number of ways you can show appreciation to your employees. Some include the recognition of employees of the month, giving out incentives and freebies, and sometimes, a promotion or a raise.

Some tend to think that these ideas can be costly to convey appreciation to the staff but it could result into something really good. If you motivate your team properly and effectively, they might work extra hard and it might help improve your business better than you expected.

Sometimes, a simple ‘word of appreciation’ can be enough and that don’t really cost much.

#6. Accept diversity

Working with overseas staff means you are working with a different culture. Your staff might be accustomed to different traditions as you are to a different ones as well. These differences might cause some difficulties in relaying your objectives and directions.

You must be adaptive to your virtual staff as they will also be to you. Both sides must be adaptive to each others differences but still keep an air of professionalism in the work setup. By learning to understand the differences in culture, the team will be able to work with each other properly. You may even be able to learn a thing or two from each other.

Making a working relationship work (just like any relationship) takes two to tango. The effort of understanding and supporting must come from both ends. Managing an online team also banks on making it work from both ends and with the help of technology too. Technology has advanced a lot and is now able to link people from seas apart so you won’t really break a sweat managing a virtual team.

Images: ”Businessman hand touching virtual screen interface with world recruitment background  / Shutterstock.com

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I started as a young entrepreneur and built a packaging and assembly factory in Melbourne with 50 staff at the age of 25. In 2004, together with a college friend, we came up with an Internet Marketing training product called “Online Marketing College” and sold it to 200 people in 6 months. In November 2007, I started my company Remote Staff and in just a year the contracted staff grow close to 100 people. Remote Staff also became the largest provider of home-based career in the Philippines. Right now, I'm happily married to a beautiful and intelligent Filipina with one kid. I still manage my company directly and remotely. http://www.remotestaff.com.au/

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Comments
  • Welcome to Tweak Your Biz Chris and a great first post for us. Being self employed I tend to work from home a lot so I guess I could be called virtual in most respects. I think that virtual employees may have been considered to run their own hours previously and how would the employer know if they were working or not.

    From my point of view my clients probably get more from me than if I was office based as I will work all hours (I know that doesn’t suit a lot of people though). And for me I have a job to do so it has to be done – skiving off is not a good reflection on me plus the job still has to be done so what’s the point? I prefer to get everything done as soon as I can so then it’s off my back.

    So a big thumbs up to virtual employees from me 🙂 And I look forward to your next post.

  • Chris J. Jankulovski

    Thank you Sian!

    I was crossing my fingers the whole time hoping that my article will get approved.

    I always advice businessmen to consider hiring virtual employees not only to cut cost but also to fortify their business strategy. Of course, there are pros and cons so planning is very important; make sure that tools are ready to measure you’re virtual staff’s productivity, schedule regular meetings and so on…

    Also, prioritize deliverables over activities 🙂




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