Remote workers.

Sounds like robots or the name of a new punk band. But it’s not, it’s a new workplace reality.

This infographic states that 20 percent of the global workforce telecommutes and that 77 percent of companies with more than 2,500 employees allow remote working.

Thanks to the globally connected business environment, workers don’t have to be in the same office together to be productive. It does work if managed well.

I can speak from experience that if you have the right people with the right attitude in the right jobs, remote workers are no different than someone sitting at the desk beside you. The virtual workplace can be made to work.

To pick that virtual team which works offsite, from down the block or in another part of the world, you have to ask yourself some questions.

  • Is this person a motivated self-starter?
  • Does this person work well on their own and with others?
  • Does this person have experience with virtual teams?
  • Can I provide this person with the tools and technology that this team will be using?
  • What level of supervision will be required for this person?

Now that you’ve got your team selected and given them the equipment and training they need, it’s time to be a manager. This is a little different than being a typical office manager, for the very simple fact that you’re not in a typical office. You have to keep these points in mind and act upon them.

Be a Communicator

Communication is crucial for virtual teams to succeed.

Set Goals and Expectations

People need to know where they’re going in order to get there. Work with them to set goals, let them know what your expectations are, and help them get there.

Create Ownership and Accountability

Make people accountable for the work that they are doing. If someone from another team has a question about a document that a team member prepared, for example, put them in touch with that person.

Be Results-Focused

Successful virtual managers focus on results rather than hours and minutes. Of course, this depends on the organization, but many remote workers put in fewer hours and get more done. Most employees feel grateful for this flexibility and more loyal to their employer.

Show People That You Care

Remote workers often need more personal support in order to prevent isolation and disengagement. Check in with them frequently and ask how they are doing to build a personal connection.

Build Trust and Credibility

In the virtual world, it’s all about your actions. Do what you say you’re going to do and go to bat for your team when necessary. Otherwise, your team members won’t trust you, and you won’t get the productivity and results that you’re looking for.

Keep Learning

The virtual workplace is constantly changing. Keep learning about technology and stay in tune with what your competitors are doing. It’s also wise to periodically check in with your team to see if their tools are still meeting their needs.

Help People Do What They Love

If you can give team members some control over the type of work that they do, they’ll be even more motivated and results-oriented.

Build People Up

This is one of the most basic principles of leadership and relationships: build people up rather than tear them down. Offer constructive criticism and development opportunities to help people grow.

Be Consistent

When working with people in a virtual environment, they have to fill in a lot of gaps. Be consistent to minimize those gaps and to ensure that they’re getting the right message: you’re there to support the team and help them achieve their goals.

Follow these tip and there’s more than a remote chance of success with your virtual workplace.