Giving employees the flexibility and freedom of remote work will lead to happier, healthier, and more productive team members. And while that may be true, there's still the question of managing a remote team, so everyone is on the same page and working towards common goals.
One way to do this is by setting clear expectations for remote employees. Any industry with a remote-first work culture will struggle without establishing rules on how and what kind of work gets done.
In this post, we'll explain why setting expectations should be at the top of your employee onboarding checklist and how to set employee expectations for remote work.
Why setting expectations for remote work matters
In traditional workplaces, managing meetings and company events was never challenging to arrange. Employees were in the same location, and although it might not have been the most convenient task in the day, getting everyone together could be as easy as posting a bulletin on the break room board.
The world has changed to a work-from-home culture, and businesses need to adjust. A distributed workforce is no longer stuck in their office for up to eight hours a day. They run errands, cook meals, take care of children, and manage their homes while working.
Companies that can communicate their expectations effectively will be able to gather their teams when necessary. They will know when to count on their employees and how to hold them accountable for mistakes effectively.
Perhaps the most critical aspect of setting clear expectations is creating a satisfying work culture that keeps employees around. In March of 2022 alone, 4.53 million workers quit their jobs in what is being called "The Great Resignation."
Retaining employees is getting harder for businesses, but giving new hires clear expectations will help them know exactly what your company's remote work culture is like. The information will give them a chance to be successful in their position and provide a clear framework of what it takes to be a part of the team.
Understanding what expectations for remote employees can do for your business is helpful, but it won't get the job done for you. You'll need strategies to implement expectations at every level of the employee lifecycle, from employee onboarding to retirement.
How to set expectations with remote employees
Creating a company culture with remote employees can be difficult, but it's not impossible. Your team can become stronger with the right tools and processes without needing in-person interaction.
Here are a few ways to set clear expectations with your remote employees to prevent isolation, loss of information, or missed briefings.
Set clear expectations from Day 1
The first available moment you have to set clear expectations with remote employees is the application process. This is where you can start to lay out what the company culture is like, how you communicate, and what is expected of new hires.
In the job description, be clear about your expectations for working remotely. For example, if you require remote employees to be available during specific hours or days, list that in the job posting. It would help to list any required qualifications, such as specific software experience or customer service skills. The equipment necessary to perform the job should also be included as well as standards on employee performance.
The interview process is also an opportunity to set expectations with potential remote employees. During the initial phone screen, take some time to explain your company's policies on remote work, including how you communicate and collaborate. This is also a good time to ask questions about the candidate's experience with remote work and if they have any questions about the expectations.
Explain to your potential employee how you plan to measure their performance over time. What key metrics will be considered? How long will you evaluate their performance? Giving your employees a crystal-clear vision of how they can improve will set them up for success.
After a candidate is hired, the onboarding process is key to setting clear expectations for remote work. During this time, you can go over your company's policies and procedures and introduce the new hire to the team they'll be working with. It's important to provide as much information as possible so that the transition into the remote work environment is as smooth as possible.
Share your workplace communication strategy
Remote employees are the most vulnerable to communication breakdowns. It's important to have a clear strategy for how you will communicate with your team and make sure everyone is on the same page.
There are various ways to communicate with remote employees, including Slack for async communication, Zoom for one-to-one meetings, and Welcome for synchronous virtual gatherings. It would help if you decided which method or combination of methods works best for your team and stick to it.
It's also important to establish a clear hierarchy for communication. Who should employees go to with questions? Who is the final decision-maker on projects? When multiple people are involved in a project, it can be helpful to create a communication plan outlining who is responsible for what tasks.
Help your remote employees by providing a guideline for how you expect your team to talk with each other. Not just with tools but with the overall strategy, including what's appropriate to discuss virtually and what isn't. Is your workplace very professional, and little outside talk should be allowed, or is there room for jokes and playfulness?
Giving your workers outlines that cover the methods of communication and the types of communication allowed will lead to a more cohesive and productive team.
Check-in with remote employees every day
It won't help your employees to cover all expectations on the first day of onboarding and never speak of it again. Repetition is how humans learn, so ensure you frequently check in with your remote team.
A daily check-in can be as simple as a quick Slack message or video call to ask how their day is going and if they need help with anything. These brief interactions will help you stay up-to-date on what's going on with your team and will help you understand if expectations are being met.
It also gives your team a chance to communicate with you if they aren't hitting their goals. You can correct the issues before they turn into larger patterns.
This process will make it easier when it's time to hold people accountable. You'll have a good idea of what's happening and why they may not be meeting expectations. Checking in every day gives your employees and yourself a chance to set good habits and meet your expectations from the beginning.
Measure Progress Effectively
Employees won't understand if they are meeting your expectations if you don't have a clear and efficient way of measuring progress. This is where key metrics come in.
Progress should be measured regularly, whether daily, weekly, or monthly. Employees need to understand how they are being evaluated and what they need to do to improve. If you're not sure where to start, here are a few ideas for remote work performance metrics:
- Number of tasks completed
- Quality of work
- Communication with team members
- Responsiveness to customer inquiries
- Meeting deadlines
Getting clear with your remote employees on how their work is measured gives them an opportunity to change. It provides a tangible way for remote workers to know if they are hitting the mark or not.
This can also make it easier to hold remote workers accountable or know when it's time to let them go. Before you get to that point, make sure you're communicating to employees how many opportunities they have to improve.
If you never communicate what leads to termination, it can create resentment towards your company. Remote workers who are let go can complete negative reviews on your company or share their experiences in remote worker forums.
Constantly Review Your Expectations
Having the same work expectations your company created 15 years ago won't be relevant to today's standards. You'll find many of your remote workers aren't hitting the expectations not because they are slacking but because the expectations are no longer reasonable.
The future of work is constantly changing, and so should your employee expectations. Take the time to review your current policies and see if they make sense for the work being completed today.
You may find that some of your remote employees are working more hours than you realized or that their job has changed so much that they need different expectations.
It may be challenging to keep up with the constant change, but it's essential to have relevant and attainable employee expectations. Reviewing your policies regularly will help you ensure that your team can meet its goals.
Giving remote employees clear expectations will improve your entire work culture. Employees will understand how to improve and become successful, and you'll have a happier and more productive workforce.
Welcome makes it easy to communicate your expectations with remote workers wherever they happen to be. The employee event software includes remote employee onboarding events and team-building activities in engaging and informative environments. Gather employee feedback, clarify understanding, and track EQ scores on an easy-to-use dashboard.