Going remote is no longer just a trend or a fancy benefit; it’s an increasingly desirable option for growing your law firm. Some positions can function very effectively in a remote environment, but it’s not just about finding the right employee. In order for that employee to want to work with you and stay in that position, it’s vital that they are supported in a way that allows them to thrive.
This is where employers can play a more significant role in bringing remote employees into the fold. What follows are some ideas for how to do this.
Onboard Them With Care
It’s not a good idea to dump a bunch of login details, websites, and company processes into their digital laps on their first day. Plan for weekly touchpoints with your remote employees where they can ask questions. Set up an onboarding schedule in which they can connect with people on the team both to learn more about the company and to help them form more personal connections with their coworkers.
This also reduces a lot of the anxiety around starting a new position. Instead of bombarding remote employees with info and leaving them unclear about what to read and work on, give them a suggested daily schedule for the first week.
An essential part of onboarding is talking about your company values and how those show up in a remote environment. Remote employees will be looking for those values in action, so help give them examples of what it looks like to embody that value. This brings them into the fold and makes them feel like they are part of a team working towards similar goals.
Communicate With Them More Often
There’s no shortage of digital tools for communication, but Slack and email are not enough. With remote employees, set aside time to communicate about things at work and outside of the role. Have one-on-one meetings with the employee’s general manager to gauge how they’re feeling in their role and as part of the company overall.
Don’t take questions like, “How are things going?” for granted. Time for small talk can reveal where there are more opportunities to support remote employees, and ultimately, it shows you care.
Discover Their Work Love Language
Plenty of people know what their personal love language is. Quality time, gifts, acts of service, words of affirmation, and physical touch are the five love languages. Of course, touch is off the table at work, but take the time to learn about how your remote employees best receive feedback. If you’re an “acts of service” person at work, you might think that the two hours you volunteered to help them fix something was the best gift you could give them. And there’s no reason not to pitch in with acts of service.
However, if all your remote employees really need to know is that they’re doing well, are words of affirmation, don’t neglect that. It might not come naturally to you as a leader, but you must find a way to connect with them that is meaningful and encouraging.
Likewise, when a remote employee starts with you, ask them how they best receive feedback. Some people want to hear it in the moment and prefer upfront and honest statements. Others might want to get constructive criticism after the project is over. When you know what works well with an employee, they’ll feel much better about the lessons they’ll learn and their growth path on the job.
Support Their Professional Development
Not all professional development has to contribute directly to your remote employee’s daily work. But take the time to ask them, “What would you learn if time and resources were not an issue?”
Maybe a newly-promoted manager wants conflict resolution training, or someone else wants to deep dive into diversity and inclusivity. There are free and paid resources you can offer to them to show that you’re supporting them not just at an employee level but at a human level. Make the time to ask and to follow through.
Plan Fun Digital Events
The last thing any remote employee wants is to spend time in is unnecessary meetings. But a once a week shared virtual lunch or hour of an online game can help bring people together. Encourage team members to share bits of their personal life, too, which helps to mimic the camaraderie and friends more frequently found in an actual office. With remote employees, you have to be more intentional about making this happen, but a little effort goes a long way.
Ask for Their Feedback—and Listen to It
Surveys, quarterly reviews, and other feedback touchpoints are essential. While employers use quarterly reviews to give feedback to the employee, don’t forget that the remote employee has a valuable opinion. Ask what you and the company can do better. Then take that feedback seriously.
This is really important if they indicate the onboarding was disorganized, that they’re struggling with workload, or have a problem with their manager. These issues can quickly encourage remote employees to seek positions elsewhere when left unchecked. It’s not worth having candid conversations or feedback opportunities if employees know they will be ignored. Pretty quickly, people will stop giving honest feedback, which can lead to deep-seated frustration.
It’s very easy for digital teams to get focused in their silo. If these teams operate independently, the finance team won’t have projects the marketing team knows about. Get the whole team on board by encouraging company-wide celebrations that give context. Here’s an example of a Slack message that does this:
“Just wanted to celebrate Tiffany for her outstanding work reconciling invoices before tax time. She spent a lot of time and energy doing it and made a better process for the future. This really helps us achieve (insert company value here).”
This helps other people celebrate the wins and feel included as part of the team, whether they are the one being celebrated or on another team entirely.