How to Read the Virtual Body Language Of Remote Workers

August 15, 2018
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Remote workers are becoming increasingly popular. In this day and age, staff are no longer tethered to just working at their desks in an office. With technological advances, we are now capable of working anywhere we wish as long as we have a laptop and wifi. We have discussed in the past the benefits of telecommuting for workers and Merito Group is not alone in employing a team of remote workers across the states. In an adapting workforce however, managerial techniques need to be adapted too.

All managers want their teams to be happy and engaged in their jobs. Unfortunately, even the greatest companies will occasionally find themselves with an unhappy employee. Managers know there are certain patterns to look out for that may reveal an employee feels dissatisfied — lack of enthusiasm, changes in demeanor, or questionable breakroom etiquette, to name a few. But when employees work remotely, it gets a bit trickier to pick up on these signs.

Today, the workplace is more mobile and distributed than ever. According to Global Workforce Analytics, a quarter of the workforce works virtually at some frequency. Those employees often have different motivators and require distinct considerations compared with their traditional in-office coworkers. Moreover, without the socialization and collaboration found in an office environment, working remotely can lead to a significant lack of engagement.

So, how can you ensure your remote employees remain as engaged as the people you’re greeting every day in the office hallways? At the end of the day, body language and communication are critical for both local and remote employees. Below, I outline some of the “virtual body language” patterns that may signal an unhappy employee who needs some extra attention.

Recognize missed meetings

Keep an eye out for team members who miss or are continuously late for routine standups or one-on-one meetings. This is often an early sign that an employee could be checking out. This is easier to pick up on when you see a person physically missing from a room, but don’t take this any less seriously when it’s one fewer voice dialed-in or a missing face in the video conference. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to address missed meetings.

When it comes to remote teams in different time zones, simply scheduling meetings comes with a unique set of challenges. To avoid confusion and miscommunication, always remember to note the time zone of each attendee when scheduling meetings, and plan accordingly.

It may seem obvious, but if you do notice an employee consistently missing meetings, virtually or otherwise, don’t wait until your next scheduled one-on-one to check in. Send them a quick note or, even better, make a call to get a sense in real time what might be causing them to check out.

Listen carefully for silence

An employee may be making their deadlines, logging in on time, and joining the meetings on their calendar, but are they actively participating? Take note of the employee who is uncharacteristically quiet on team calls and group projects.

This is even more important with virtual employees, who usually have to do a bit more work to participate from afar. Take the time to learn how each of your remote team members prefer to communicate. The medium that gets the best response from one employee may not be ideal for another. Some employees may steer away from the informality of group-messaging apps, while others might prefer quick back-and-forth over an email thread.

It is important to treat remote workers just like they are in the office with you, and that includes engaging them like you would a worker on-site. For more tips on how to adapt and get the best out of your remote team, click here to read Kathleen Pai‘s excellent tips from TLNT.com.


Copyright Merito Group LLC © 2019

Copyright Merito Group LLC © 2019