James Douglas Burbank

James D. Burbank has been in marketing for more than a decade. He has worked in traditional as well as online marketing and he has seen it all. He is also a huge Utah Jazz fan.

James Douglas Burbank has written 12 articles for SB Informer.
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How to Manage Your Remote Employees

How to overcome the challenges that come with managing remote teams.

James Douglas Burbank

May 22, 2017

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All management problems are, for the most part, caused by miscommunication. In order to manage your remote team more effectively, there has to be a good line of communication and social bonding. Outsourcing is not a new thing anymore, as people have realized that there are so many skilled people out there that they can connect and work with. Remote employees and freelancers can do the same work as in-house employees and help you build your company.

It has become more enticing to hire people in other countries and states, with the competitiveness in hiring skilled people being in tech epicenters. However, it is also a unique challenge to management to add these remote employees to your working team. Some challenges may easily be overlooked, and by improving them you will improve team cohesion, productivity, and morale.

Get to know them

It’s easy to end a call or chat right after talking about what needs to be done, and then get back to executing. If you’re having a quick meeting or on a tight deadline, that’s exactly what you should do, but you’re missing out on a critical part of employee management if that’s all you do. Rapport is what you should build with every member of your team because it will help you out problems that they have. Your employees should trust you with things important to them. Don’t talk just about work, but be natural and get to know them as complete persons, along with their private interests in life, and understand what motivates them.


Remote workers are the ones you don’t get to see in the office every day, but it’s essential to have any type of visual indication to what someone’s thinking. Having real-time communication via video call will reveal much more than an audio-only conversation. There are so many benefits you can reap from video calls, so make sure to use it whenever you can.

One of the biggest challenges that remote teams need to overcome is establishing a real-time collaboration. You can choose from various apps for this purpose, most of them offering a simple interface employees can use to schedule each other tasks, exchange files, or chat. As it often happens, team members work from different time zones, so they can install apps on their phones and receive push notifications, so they are reachable during critical times of the day. Using project management software if extremely useful, but before choosing one for your needs, you should do a project management tools comparison to know which one is the right for you.


Getting to meet everyone face to face is invaluable, and it will help you build better rapport in just a few days of team work in person, that weeks or months of remote efforts. However, it can be really expensive and it would cost you thousands of dollars just to pay everyone airline tickets to come from their countries. Nonetheless, regular team meetings are required (at least twice a week), and it can be done with the use of online video conferencing and meeting software. Each team member needs a microphone, a webcam, and a communication app installed on their smartphone or desktop computer.

Company culture

Even if the whole team is remotely scattered around the world, you can still create company culture. It is embedded in your communication style, your way of conducting business, and your values. When everyone who works for you is privy to your values and get aligned with them, a sense of community and loyalty is then created. Design and implement a formal policy for remote workers to make sure that all of them are on the same page. Include specifics such as the expectations regarding how reachable by email or phone they should be, the types of tasks they’ll be able to do complete remotely, and when they can work remotely. This is key to avoiding abuse of policy and miscommunication.


Managers like to use weekly updates or diary sheets to track their remote employees. However, this practice can decrease motivation seriously, as well as undermine trust. These sheets often get filled incorrectly, because the remote workers just want to get their managers of their backs by appeasing their managers. Probably the biggest challenge every remote employee faces is self-motivation, so you should work on creating a sense of personal responsibility instead of micromanaging them.

Closing Word


Working remotely is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but some people prefer working from home due to different reasons. Thus, if you’re about to outsource some work by hiring remote employees, having a remote working policy can increase the employee’s morale and productivity and decrease office costs if implemented correctly. 


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