Remote work is fabulous. I wouldn’t be here writing about it for nearly half a decade now if it wasn’t. I especially enjoy the flexibility, the solitude, and the opportunity to work alongside some of the most talented people I’ve ever met.
That said, I do acknowledge that it isn’t without its challenges. While I have yet to encounter the sort of office politics that tend to fester in traditional workplaces, conflicts aren’t exactly non-existent here. But I suppose that whenever humans are involved, occasional ones are inevitable.
I’ve been fortunate to work with a small and fairly harmonious team, but this might not be the case for many. If you are an entrepreneur, for instance, and are at the helm of several remote workers, you may find yourself putting out fires between them.
There probably isn’t a fool-proof way to prevent conflicts entirely, but there are a few things that can minimise them:
1. Over Communicating.
To be clear, this means to ensure that you’re conveying the right tone and message. Without face-to-face interactions, there are no non-verbal cues like facial expressions, body language, or tone of voice. Thus, it’s too easy for people to get worked up.
For example, if your manager walks by your desk and asks you to come in for a chat but does so casually, you wouldn’t be worried. However, if they message you with an abrupt “We need to talk,” you might feel anxious, even if they only mean to check in.
So, the key here is to over-communicate. When you set up meetings or one-on-ones, be explicit about what they’re for. “We need to talk. I just need updates on your current project.” sounds less ambiguous than just “We need to talk.”
Also, don’t underestimate emojis. While you should use them sparingly, the right emoji can instantly add warmth to a message or make it sound less severe.
2. Clear expectations.
Flexibility is great, but so is predictability. A little bit of the latter lets people know what to expect.
For instance, a common lunch break hour means members don’t have to reply right away within that time. It also gives them an avenue to chat about non-work stuff if they’re eating at their desks.
Furthermore, daily check-ins at an appointed time accomplishes two things for your team. One is that they get a bit of face time with each other and let them share updates on their progress. Another is that these provide avenues to settle any disagreements before they fester.
3. “When in doubt, pick up the phone.”
….or, to be precise, hit that “call” button.
If something feels off, don’t hesitate to take a team member aside and talk it out. While technology has given us plenty of communication channels, emails and instant chats are no substitute for a phone or video call. It’s easier to assess someone’s sincerity or mood when you can hear their voice and/or see their face, after all.
If you’ve never worked with or led a remote team before, establishing rapport can be tricky. Also, sometimes, no matter how well your remote employees get along, misunderstandings are still possible. In some cases, you might find yourself at odds with them too.
When that happens, Remote Staff is on hand to provide its clients with full support. Thanks to more than a decade’s worth of experience connecting the best Filipino remote work talent to various entrepreneurs and companies Down Under, we’ve gotten quite adept at smoothing ruffled feathers. You can bet that we can and will help you resolve any conflicts that could occur so that you can get back to doing what you do best: growing your business.
Click here to schedule a callback with us today.