Supporting Your Remote Employees’ Career Development
Recent research shows an interesting trend regarding remote workers. In the Forbes article titled “Are Remote Workers Happier and More Productive? New Survey offers Answers,” Victor Lipman shares that overall, telecommuting workers score considerably higher than the average when it comes to being happy in their job; how valued they feel at work; and how productive they are.
Despite all of this, many remote workers find it challenging to advance their careers. That’s logical since they aren’t necessarily aware of opportunities regular workers see simply because they’re on-site. And if you’re a manager with remote employees on your team, you might be wondering if you’re providing them with the support they deserve to develop their careers. After all, it’s much easier to advise and guide people you see in person every day. Yet as Eric Grevstad points out in his PC Mag article titled “2.5% of U.S. Employees Work from Home,” one in 11 employees in the U.S. telecommute most of the time—and that number is likely to grow in the near future. That’s why it’s critical to highlight advancement opportunities for your remote team members and develop effective strategies to help them further their careers.
Effective career guidance starts as early as during the interview process. Especially when you’re interviewing talent for a remote position, it’s important to find out what his or her career goals are and provide information as to what career paths are available within the company. Remember: many remote workers aren’t aware of any growth potential in remote positions. They might be planning to keep this job for a short period of time before moving on to something else. Being clear about possible promotions from the start could very well earn you an aspirational, high-potential, engaged employee who stays with the company for the long term.
Getting remote employees involved with the rest of the team is a crucial aspect of supporting their advancement. Use videoconferencing software to hold weekly meetings where the team members can interact face to face. Instead of using email for internal communications, if there’s a company platform, use that to communicate important announcements. This will allow telecommuters to feel a part of the team while at the same time giving them the same opportunities as regular employees to volunteer for stretch assignments and projects with more responsibility.
It’s also advisable to create a specific strategy for career guidance that you apply to all team members, not just those who work from home. Schedule regularly check-ins with your people about how they’re progressing toward their career objectives; where they need more guidance; and what upcoming opportunities might interest them. For example, if you’re planning to attend a trade conference, consider bringing one of your remote workers with you. It will be a good learning and networking experience that can simultaneously help strengthen your relationship.
Finally, make sure there are enough resources to support telecommuters’ professional development. With all of the online courses available nowadays, it’s relatively easy and affordable to provide training that both your remote and onsite team members can do at their own pace. Many of these courses come with certificates or professional credits, and offer the advantage of allowing your employees to pick and choose those classes that best meet their needs.
Helping remote employees advance their careers doesn’t have to be complicated and demanding. So long as you allocate the time to assess their progress with them; offer resources to expand their knowledge; and provide transparency about career paths within your organization, you’ll do an outstanding job of supporting their careers, no matter where in the world they’re located.