Offsite workers have to feel as if you care as much for them as for those on site. Toward that, you need to interact in person whenever you can. Without personal contact, misunderstandings are more frequent. If you can’t meet in person regularly, schedule regular telephone calls with each offsite employee. Set up an agenda for these calls to ensure that you cover all those subjects you intended to cover when you made the call. Know your offsite employees’ schedules so you can reach them via phone in an emergency.
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Just because offsite employees aren’t around doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get coaching and periodic assessments and the annual appraisal. The same procedures used for onsite employees should be applied to offsite workers. Goals should be set and a means of monitoring performance should be determined. The offsite employees should come into the office for reviews and receive feedback on performance. If problems are evident, then action plans need to be set to turn around performance. Coaching or counseling can be done on the phone but is better handled in person. So a worker whose performance isn’t up to par may have to come into the office regularly until the work meets standards.
If no improvement is evident, you may want to bring the employee back into the office to see if this leads to the improvement you want. If it proves either unsatisfactory or the employee prefers to work at home, then you may have to terminate the worker.
Invite offsite employees into the office for staff meetings. You don’t want them to feel that their status causes them to miss out. Don’t ask them to attend only business meetings—invite offsite workers to social events on site as well.
What if you have a concern about an employee’s performance? Ask yourself if he or she needs the camaraderie of the office to produce at the level you need. Telecommuting may not work for every person, even if it may work for his or her position. Remember that your earlier decision to allow the employee to work at home isn’t carved in stone.
This same advice applies to anyone who is part of your team but, due to reorganizations, is located on another floor or in another city or even in another country.