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Building Company Culture with Remote Employees

Guest blog post by Ben Walker, CEO of Transcription Outsourcing

Company culture has become something that is about freebies and having a fun work environment. Who says a company with remote employees and contractors can’t be treated the same? Years ago, someone would laugh at the idea of keeping a team of remote employees in communication and interacting with one another. At Transcription Outsourcing, we’ve been able to do so for over seven and a half years. And, we do so without ping pong tables and free lunch on Fridays. Here’s how.

It begins at the time of the interview

First things first, how you treat your interviews. Getting a real sense of a remote employee or contractor via email is almost impossible. In fact, you are hiring blindly at that point. The person could be looking for a short term source of income versus a job that will grow their career. Talking to a potential employee over the phone lets you hear their tone of voice, and gives you a sense of what they really want out of the job you need them for. Many people fear that hiring a remote employee may mean the candidate lied on their resume, because they have nothing to fear being so far away.  Speaking to them over the phone gives you the opportunity to test their knowledge in real time, asking them questions that only an expert in their field would know. Hear a hesitation in their voice about a simple question? You’ll know right away whether they are a genuine candidate that should be considered for your team.

Learn to trust

One of the biggest contributing factors to the success of our remote culture comes from a place of trust. We know that if we all trust one another to get the work done, we’ll get along better. Micro-managing a remote staff puts stress on everyone and can lead to a lot of people butting heads with one another. You’re better off checking in with them from time to time over the phone and being sure you are both good about email communication in between calls. You’ll feel at ease, and they’ll appreciate that you have faith in the quality of work.

Include them as if they were a part of the in-house office staff

The last thing you want to do is put your remote workers last. They need to feel included and appreciated as much as your in-house office staff. While we can’t provide a birthday cake in the break room on a remote employee’s birthday, we do still show them that we are thinking about them that day. We send out birthday and holiday cards along with gift certificates to our remote staff once a quarter. They like that we remembered them, creating a connection on a more personal level with hand written notes and cards.

Have a solid communication channel

Building trust with someone you’ve never met face-to-face takes a little bit of time. An open source of communication speeds up the process in this case. To help keep everyone’s stress levels down and trust level up, we’ve established an easy channel of communication. We find that phone calls work the best rather than using instant messaging apps. Speaking over the phone keeps things direct and clear. Emails can work well; though after a few back and forths, we encourage a phone call, so nothing gets lost in all the emails. The phone calls also gives us another opportunity to have a conversation with the remote worker, which helps build the personal connection. We can check in and see how things are going and if there is anything we can do to help make things run more smoothly for them from our end.

The era of remote employees and contractors is picking up speed and isn’t going away anytime soon. Leaders and business owners need to recognize that a remote employee is a part of the team and to treat them as such. Remote employees and contractors work much better when a business makes the effort to create a unique and inviting company culture.

Ben Walker is a CEO, entrepreneur, and visionary leader that enjoys helping others become successful in business. Ben’s company, Transcription Outsourcing provides user-friendly and cost effective transcription services for the medical, legal, law enforcement, and financial industries for organizations all over the world. Ben is a sought-after thought leader and has made contributions to publications like Entrepreneur Magazine, The Associated Press, Inc. and Forbes.

Follow Ben’s Tweets: @benjaminkwalker. 

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Great points listed here. Thanks!

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