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"Remote Management - Napa, California Style"

Life Lessons Series: Six of One Dozen of the Other- "Remote Management - Napa, California Style"


I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion at the Association for Title Information Management (ATIM) Conference in Napa, California last week. The topic was Remote Management. I have been managed remotely for almost 25 years. I have been managing remote employees for more than 20 years. It was definitely a topic I felt comfortable with. Suffice it to say I definitely felt ahead of the curve when COVID hit in 2020 managing and working remotely.

The ATIM Conference format is always extremely interactive and lots of fun. I spoke at an ATIM conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida back in 2019 and had a great experience. In the ATIM tradition, while the audience in the room may be small, there is always a free form discussion that takes places. The attendees are impressive in their accomplishments and career paths and their contributions make any topic far more robust- including mine!

I am of the opinion that remote employment is here to stay. It affords employees a far stronger work life balance. With the silver tsunami hitting the Title and Settlement Industry, it is crucial that companies embrace remote and hybrid positions. I prepared handouts and suggestions with tips for managing employees remotely which follow.

1. Recruit the Right Employee Traits

  • Ability to prioritize

  • Adaptable

  • Collaborative

  • Communication

  • Organized

  • Reliable

  • Results-oriented

  • Self-motivated

  • Strong work ethic

2. Create a Well-Designed Onboarding Process

  • Familiarize new remote employees with the people, processes and tools that they need to succeed.

  • Use videoconferencing (Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Skype, Zoom).

  • Have new virtual team members set 15-30-minute get-to-know-you phone conversations with each existing team member (who have been notified to expect that call).

  • Send physical swag, cards or letters in the mail from the team to welcome the new remote employees.

3. Develop Remote Management Work Policies

  • Define specific job duties.

  • Clearly establish attendance and work hours:

    • Break frequency and times

    • Overtime approval requirements

    • Ensure schedules overlap with other team members

  • Data confidentiality and protection.

  • Social media usage.

  • Distraction-free working space.

  • Secure and reliable internet connection.

4. Establish Remote Worker Training Programs

  • Create a formal training outline to ensure all required training, information and compliance items are communicated.

  • Pair up remote employees with a more seasoned work “buddy

  • Use videoconferencing (Google Meet, GoToMeeting, Skype, Zoom) with live trainers.

  • Develop written support materials available in a shared library.

  • Host in-person training periodically.

5. Trust Your Team

  • Focus on results, not daily hour-by-hour activity.

  • Set clear expectations and follow up weekly on results.

  • stablish a culture of ownership and accountability.

  • Use intermittent reinforcement techniques.

6. Be Responsive and Available

  • Show flexibility and empathy to remote work challenges.

  • Schedule regular check-ins.

    • Avoid multitasking during conversations.

  • Organize regular career catch-up discussions.

  • Manage by results; do not micromanage.

7. Make Time for Small Talk

  • Create a “Virtual Water Cooler” - a place where employees can “meet” online and exchange non-work related banter. (This chitchat is commonplace in offices and creates bonds in the workplace, helps teams’ function well together and solidifies a team mentality and sense of camaraderie!)

  • Slack - workplace communication tool, a single place for messaging, tools and files for remote teams.

8. Stay Connected

  • Continue sending physical swag, cards or letters in the mail.

  • Host virtual team-building activities and retreats.

  • Host periodic in-person company events.

  • Explore the use of alternate technology tools for remote management:

9. Track Company Progress: Confirm You’re Successfully Managing Remote Workers

  • Evaluate your business goals and achievements

  • Analyze key performance indicators (KPIs)

  • Review customer feedback

  • Check your search engine optimization (SEO) rankings

  • Check the rate of repeat customers

  • View your financial statements

  • Compare with competition

  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses

  • Develop improvement strategies

10. Celebrate Success!

  • Celebrate both individual and collective successes big and small to encourage remote workers.

    • Motivates remote workers to do their best.

    • Gives team the satisfaction that their efforts mattered.

  • Avoid postponing celebrations until you have achieved your big, long-term goals.

  • Virtual parties

  • Work "Vacations"

What is Your Life Lesson…

  1. Have you been managed remotely?

  2. Have you managed remote employees? Based on these recommendations how do you think you scored?

  3. Do you support remote and hybrid work models?

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