There’s no doubt that innovations in technology are behind the rise in telecommuting. According to Gallup, 37% of U.S. workers say they have telecommuted, and the average worker telecommutes two days per week.

Remote work has opened up a virtual world of possibilities for employees and employers alike: While employees get to enjoy the flexibility of a work-from-home schedule, managers are no longer tethered to top talent in their immediate vicinity. Companies today, in fact, are able to tap into a global talent market to locate the optimal person to fill specific roles.

One of the most common complaints among remote workers is a lack of feedback Click To Tweet

And full-time, location-independent work isn’t where the possibilities begin and end: Employees are traveling for business for weeks or even months at a time; and sometimes, just one role is fully remote — a freelance video editor on the marketing team, for example.

It’s clear that the workplace of the future will take place at least in part in a remote setting. But managers and HR departments are still working kinks out of the remote work model. One of the most common complaints among remote workers is a lack of feedback, which leaves employees feeling uneasy about their performance and unsure how to grow in their role.

This is why implementing a feedback strategy — better yet, a feedback culture — specific to remote workers is crucial for success.

Below are a few tips on how to implement such processes.

Find a Way to Have (Digital) Face Time

While some feedback sessions can be as simple as a quick, text-only chat, video check-ins add an important element to remote communication: face time.

There are some pieces of feedback best delivered in as close to an in-person manner as possible, including constructive criticism, explaining particularly complicated projects, and any lengthy performance assessments. These meetings may manifest as daily or weekly one-on-ones, team meetings, or task-based check-ins; both employee and manager should work together to decide upon the format and cadence of communication.

Give Feedback Constantly and Consistently

In an office setting, employees receive subtle feedback constantly in both formal and informal ways. They’re able to pop into their manager’s office with a quick question; they can see the approving look on their supervisor’s face when they offer an opinion in a client meeting. Nonverbal cues give unintentional feedback throughout the entire work day.

Real-time feedback helps remote employees feel as if they’re top of mind even when they’re not physically in the same space.

But, a remote work setting is an entirely different animal. Feedback requires effort on the part of both manager and employee, and annual reviews simply won’t cut it. With remote employees, it’s also key not to rely on digital mediums like email, text, or messenger chat, which can easily be misconstrued due to ambiguous tone. Even positive recognition provides a bigger reward when delivered face-to-face and immediately following the related project.

This is why implementing a diversified system of constant feedback, from dedicated one-on-ones between manager and employee to peer reviews to tools that provide real-time, two-way communication is effective. This is particularly important for scenarios in which one or a handful of employees work remotely as part of a larger, location-based team.

A platform that allows for real-time feedback — supplementing more structured video sessions — helps remote employees feel as if they’re top of mind even when they’re not physically in the same space as the rest of the team. Once feedback has been delivered, it’s equally important to follow up on the employee’s progress through concrete goal-setting processes and additional check-ins.

Be Sensitive to Time Zones

As globalization continues to impact the modern workplace, some employees find themselves in situations where their manager is operating on an entirely different continent. In these instances, managers must be cognizant of each team members’ respective time zone, and plan feedback sessions, schedules for deliverables, and team meetings accordingly. While not everybody can be accommodated all the time, being aware of each employee’s schedule can help mitigate resentment from remote workers.

Managers must be cognizant of each team members’ respective time zone Click To Tweet

For instance: An end-of-day check-in meeting based in NYC quickly becomes an inconvenience for employees operating on UK time, who may end up feeling punished for their geographical location. Consider polling all team members to find the time slot with the least amount of conflict when arranging such meetings or feedback sessions.

Build Relationships

Anyone who has worked in an office setting can testify to the importance of office relationships. When an “office” setting is strictly digital, it’s still important to build team morale and camaraderie by whatever means possible.

Adding a modicum of small-talk in meetings helps employees feel as if they’re engaged in meaningful two-way conversation instead of simply a delegation session.

Often, this comes down to simple conscientiousness. Sharing personal experiences and anecdotes, as well as adding a modicum of small-talk in meetings (allocating a couple minutes at the start of a one-on-one for casual catch-up, for example), helps employees feel as if they’re engaged in meaningful two-way conversation instead of simply a delegation session.

Remote work may not yet be the status quo, but it’s quickly evolving from a trend to a vital part of modern workplace dynamics. Building a culture of real-time, efficient feedback is just one way to ensure that remote employees have the opportunity to thrive.

  • Paul Norris

    At the remote company I’m with GlobeKick we use Slack for internal communication, and have gotten used to checking not only US but international timezones as a norm. We also travel to different and emerging locations 3 times per year together, as a regular culture and team building activity.

    With activities like Sahara desert treks, Elephant sanctuaries in Cambodia, and Nicaraguan volcano surfing, our community of digital nomads has expanded past our own company lines. We are actually letting others remote professionals in on our adventures too..