Why regular feedback is so important for remote teams

Managing a remote company or a remote team can be very rewarding. Remote workers tend to be happy workers. That makes things easy for everybody but not all is perfect and our job as managers is to detect any problem and act accordingly. But how can we know how happy our employees are?

Let's see some best practices to ensure we have a healthy and productive remote team.

Non verbal communication

When the main form of interaction with remote workers does not include visual contact we lost a powerful way of communicating with each other: Non verbal communication. Our body helps us express our ideas, our feelings and our message. A very good way to overcome this limitation is to request feedback that includes personal opinions. Saying:
"I've completed all tasks required for today" tell us only so much, it's an incomplete message. We need to instruct our employees to give their opinions for example: "It was a busy day today. I've completed all tasks required but they took longer than expected and I had to work more time in order to finish all of them. I had to talk to marketing requesting some ids I needed to implement the new tracking code. It would be good if those ids where available in advance".

Look how different both feedback reports are. One is focused on the business side and the other mix both business and personal opinions. We, as managers, should focus on the second version because it gives us much more information about the employee.
Let's make it personal.

Encourage collaboration

Good remote workers are problem solvers. When they have a problem their first instinct is finding a way of solving it. They will use Google, the company's intranet, available docs… or they will figure out a way of overcoming the problem. That's an excellent quality for a remote worker but we need to keep it under control. Sometimes problem solvers think requesting help to other people is like acknowledging their failure. They think: I need to ask for help because I'm not good enough to solve this myself. And this, my fellow managers, is a very dangerous think. We don't want that in our team.

The way to solve this problem is to encourage and promote collaboration. You need to tell your team: You don't ask for help because you don't know, you ask for help because other people might have already find a way of solving your problem and that will increase your productivity and you will deliver a better result.

Pro tip: In my experience a good way of solving this problem is by having a place called blockers. Whenever somebody finds an unexpected problem that may delay their job they need to write the problem there. From the employee point of view is ok. You don't communicate your problem because you didn't find a solution but instead you are communicating others that you are going to solve an unexpected problem. If any of your colleagues had this problem before they will contact you and tell you their findings and save you time. And for the managers is always mandatory to know what blockers may impact your employees so you can also help them solving them. It's a win-win for all parties involved. In HMS is very easy to create one of those shared rooms in the ideas section.

Focus on achievements not hours

9-5 has never been a good KPI of productivity even for standard companies where all employees work together in an office. But what is a bad KPI in standard offices becomes a useless KPI for remote workers. You need to change your way of management and focus on tasks.

When your employees report their tasks and achievements they will feel their work is acknowledged. They can feel a sense of progress. It will also help them to avoid the "Green dot" syndrome. They can take a 30 minutes walk in the park with their kid in the middle of the day without feeling bad because they are not online all the time. In the end remote work is about having an awesome work-life balance. Happy employees are productive employees.

Avoid the "Green dot" syndrome

This is a stressful syndrome that all new remote workers experiment. If you are not online it looks like you are not working. If you are not available on Skype or Slack then you are probably playing with the PS4 or making a cake, aren't you? This problem happens a lot to people that is new to remote work. For experienced remote workers is not a big deal because they always focus on tasks and achievements not hours. As a manager you need to explain your team that it's perfectly fine to be offline. We all have that moment when we are "in the zone", we are super productive and we don't want interruptions. That is an excellent reason to be offline. Close your chat application, close the email and put your phone inside the drawer. Once you are
back to your normal mood and pace come back to the online world.

Managers should encourage these kind of behaviours. It is fine to be offline every now and then. If someone needs you they can always send you an email or message you in the chat app and you will see their messages when you are back online.

Ask how are they feeling as much as what they are doing.

You are managing a team and you will be measured by how many things that team achieves so you focus on how many things your employees achieve. It makes perfect sense until it doesn't. We are all humans not robots and productivity is linked to our mood. When your employees are remote their mood is something you want to know and to improve. Ask your employees how they are feeling as much as you ask then what they've done. Every day or every week ask them How was your day/week? This "how" includes both your business achievements and your personal feelings.


Remote workers are amongst the happier workers. Managers should use it to their advantage and encourage that. If we put some routines and best practices into work we will be able to increase their happiness and detect any problems before they become issues.

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