Global Mobility: How to Manage Remote Assignees in Month 5 of Pandemic

Our lives have changed dramatically these past months. One minute, it’s alright to go out; next thing you know, we’re back to the trenches we call our homes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s all for the better. However, global mobility professionals need to understand that — along with recruiters and HR personnel — they need to learn how to better structure their management of remote assignees, based on the severity of the lockdown or COVID-19 risks out there, month to month.

HR has certainly never played such a crucial role in the well-being of their employees, but beyond the daily concerns for them, HR is also finding out how some normal working procedures don’t apply in remote work. For example, the usual email is no longer going to cut it.

Video conferencing is needed to better capture synergy. Video offers visual cues, which helps everyone interact with someone on a more personal level. Getting used to videoconferencing and other communications tools will go a long way. 

Indeed, remote management can feel like a totally new challenge than managing people you work side by side with. Things that work in an office don’t always translate exactly to remote workers. Try these tips to be more conscious of the unique approaches you should take to managing remote workers:

Make time for small talk

Employers should make it clear with remote employees that they can make time for small talk, as they did in the past at their place of work. Building rapport with colleagues can inspire those who may feel too overwhelmed by the formality of virtual conference calls, where there is simply no time for small talk. Good rapport builds trust. Trust inspires people to move the needle. 

Have one-on-one moments

Remember when you used to go to the pantry and you chanced upon the big boss making coffee for himself and you discussed an idea with him? Since there’s no chance for serendipity to happen these days, make it a point to reach out to your subordinates, colleagues and even your big boss, assuming you are more than coffee buddies. And never cancel one-on-one meetings, if it can be avoided.

Prepare to respond properly

If doing virtual calls, be prepared to get your answers right. This time, it’s even more important to be ready as anything online these days can be recorded. Show your best, always. Be professional at all times. Yes, virtual calls can wear you down but maintain a good sense of equilibrium. As mentioned earlier, many things are recorded these days. You don’t want to be infamous for an embarrassing guffaw or blunder. 

Try these questions with an assignee if employers require you to ask them:

  • What’s your favorite part about working remotely? (Understand what drives them)
  • What’s your daily routine like for working?
  • Do you feel included in team decisions? Why/why not?
  • How are the tools we use as a team working out for you remotely? (i.e. Are they handicapped by poor audio on hangouts or struggle using any tools the team uses?)
  • Which of your coworkers do you wish you had more of a connection with? How do you think that would help?
  • You visit the office X times a year. Do you feel like that’s too much, not enough, or just right?
  • How could I better support remote staff like you?
  • How is your morning routine going now that you don’t have to go into work?
  • What is your workspace setup so you can focus and get things done during the day? Do you need anything to help?
  • What are you planning to do to stay connected with the rest of the team and other colleagues at work? I’d encourage you to schedule some extra calls to make up for the lost ad hoc communication from the office.

Treat remote teams of global mobility professionals like full-time employees

You don’t need to change your playbook. Remote teams are still regular staffers, just not visible in an office. Just because they are remote, you can’t start showing distrust. They can help get things done if you know how to treat them. Go out of your way to add someone new into the meeting, so they can learn from you. Remember, younger peers don’t have as much exposure as you. They learn by watching and listening. Bring them into the call as much as possible.