Remote workers are becoming an increasingly integral part of many organizations. In fact, I have the increase in remote work listed as one of my top workplace trends to watch in 2016. Research shows that as much as 40% of the U.S. workforce self-identifies as a freelancer and more than 50% of leadership expects the number of remote workers their organization relies on to increase in the coming years.

But while most organizations are increasing their reliance on remote workers, not quite as many are finding effective ways to manage, track, and improve the performance of their remote employees. Here are a few ways you can do just that:

Encourage early communication. You need to make sure the relationships you have with remote workers are doing a lot more than “phoning it in,” that is to say simply receiving the work and sending a check. If you want top talent to maintain its role in your organization, you need to ensure that communication happens before actual problems develop. Make it clear that, not only is your “door open” for questions or concerns, but you expect concerns to be raised whenever they arise.

Talk issues, not people. Oddly enough, office politics can become just as, if not more divisive with remote workers than with exclusively on-site employees. When people don’t have direct access to those they are working with, they have a tendency to have more animosity or doubt. That’s why it is crucial when dealing with problems to deal with the issue at hand, not with the individuals responsible.

Praise excellent work and share good news. Again, it’s important to take time to make your relationships with remote employees closer to the way they are with on-site employees. When the relationship starts to feel more like a vending machine than a home-cooked meal, something is wrong. Take time to share good news from within the organization and to genuinely and specifically praise good work when you see it.

As you work with your remote employees, don’t forget that even though you don’t necessarily interact face to face with that person, the relationship is just as nuanced as any you have with a full-time employee. Keep these points in mind and you should be well set up to have fruitful relationships with remote workers for years to come.

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