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4 conversations you should be having with your remote employees

“The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.” - Robin Sharma, Author.

The success of any organization or team lies in the frequency, quality, and clarity of its communication. As the manager of a remote work team, almost everything you do is predicated on the concept of communication. Luckily, there are certain foundational principles that will help you communicate effectively (and meaningfully) with your employees.

Conversations based on the four pillars covered in this article will be more dynamic and geared toward individual and team achievement, and take into account the nuances of human nature that can positively or negatively influence performance.

As you go through these guidelines, take mental (or physical) notes of which elements you currently use, how to incorporate the ones you don't, and develop a working strategy for engaging with your employees on these topics.

1. Establish pace, goals, and expectations

The remote work environment is a unique landscape which requires a deft hand from a manager establishing the standards and professional norms of the digital workplace. A remote work manager must be able to assess and respond to different work styles, cultivate and motivate employee engagement, and in many cases even shepherd employees through their first remote work experience (as remote work becomes more common, this becomes a critical skill).

The three most important things to discuss immediately, directly, and frequently with your remote employees are: pace, goals, and expectations.

Everyone on your team should have a clear concept of the expected timeline for all tasks and deliverables - you should also ensure that they have a firm grasp on the levels of priority when it comes to task completion. Having an open-door-policy that allows your employees to seek advice on course corrections in their work is also vital, and applications like Vocal can help on that front.

Even if the employee only contributes a small amount of what is necessary to accomplish an important goal, still give them at least a cursory idea of what they are contributing to with their effort. Clearly express what your expectations are with the work being done by the employee.

2. Discuss mental health and productivity

Great work is best served by a clear mind, yet the American Psychiatric association found that 40% of employees state that they fear retaliation from their employer if they seek mental health support. The path toward generating long-term productivity within your team has to be characterized by having a meaningful understanding of the challenges your employees face.

Remote work can take a significant toll on the mental health of some of your employees, but many employees fear the stigma of asking for help with this issue. 

It is vitally important that you establish a rapport and provide ample opportunities for your employees to express their concerns and limitations and even preemptively provide solutions to the psychological strain of remote work. Whether it be isolation, a lack of work/life balance, or just general stress, it is up to you as the manager to provide the framework for your employees to express what they need to be at their best.

3. Find what motivates your employees and ask about their processes

Every employee is driven by a series of interconnected motivating factors that are as unique as a fingerprint. Whether it’s challenge, money, respect, making a difference, advancement, or adventure - there are countless emotional and tangible reasons why your employee does what they do. Most employees are motivated by more than one factor, but the balance between those factors can differ tremendously (and change over time).

Much like with mental health, it is important that you establish a framework for communicating and addressing these motivators. Start with asking. Encourage your employees to talk about what gets them most (and least) excited about their daily tasks. Ask about their processes, and what unique approaches they use when problem solving or executing on work deliverables. Your understanding of what makes your personnel tick not only builds trust, but it also allows you to most effectively direct talent and attention to the biggest challenges within your organization.

4. Demonstrate how things change

Change is inevitable. The more time you spend preparing your team for change, and allowing them to feel and possess agency in the process of change, the more effective your team will be at handling adaptation. 

It all starts with openness. Even during times when major change seems unlikely, establish an environment where open communication about change is common and normalized. According to Forbes, “Transparency is key and can be used to gain more early adapters in the change process. Leadership should communicate the rationale for change as well as a clear implementation plan.”

One of the greatest fears is fear of the unknown. Allow your team to gain comfort amid readjustments in expectations, tasks, and even the company’s direction. Create channels through which employees even have an opportunity to propose change and become a part of the adaptation process.


“The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.” - Robin Sharma, Author.

The four pillars we just covered are only the beginning of the conversations that you should be having with your remote employees. Take this blueprint and expand it to match the unique and protean nature of your company and the brilliant people within it.  The ways in which you communicate with your team will have a determining effect on the success of your project and your organization as a whole. Discover how you can unlock the potential of your remote work teams by getting started with Vocal for free, or request a demo today. 

Hassan Moore