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How to combine discipline and loyalty in remote employees

Discipline, corporate rules and traditions, reports and planning, working time control – all this helps company managers of any scale to be aware of what is going on and more or less control them. Determining the line between comfortable working conditions and laxity of employees is very difficult, especially when they work remotely. Many managers wonder, “How do you combine rules and a loyal attitude?” There is no single opinion here, but perhaps some of our company’s practical tips will be useful to someone.

The specifics of languge school are such that we have 90% of all employees working remotely, and not only from US cities, but also from anywhere in the world. And over the 5 years of our existence we have developed certain principles and secrets of effective interaction with everyone at the same time regardless of their location. The recipe is simple:

1. Find the right people

Not everyone can work remotely. Self-organization and responsibility are the qualities that can be taught either long and difficult, or not at all.

That is why we initially take those who are ready for it. It is not always possible to determine this in the selection process, so we have a practice of “test weeks”. We often need them not only for us, but also for the person himself, just to try a new format. An employee works for 2 weeks on a specific task and we are involved in the process only to check the result he or she demonstrates during this time and if he or she is capable of working independently. Only after this period we invite such an employee for probationary period and introduce him/her to our team.

2. the personal authority of the manager and the emotional connection

All of our team leaders and managers lead by example and show us what it is like to work for results, take pride in our product and invest in it. It sounds commercial, but at our stage of business development it really is. In this case, the issue of discipline goes into the background: either you are just like us and you don’t need to explain why you have to work well, or you just don’t fit in. It’s hard to be lazy when you’re involved in a cool product and really feel it, and your manager isn’t just a talking head in meetings, but a real participant in the work processes.

3. Control the result

There are tasks that need to be done, and it is worth controlling just that: the fact of the number of calls, the fact of the bugs that have been fixed. Usage of billable hours software really simplifies the process

If an employee clearly does less than he or she is supposed to do, that is a reason to talk. Doing less for the second month in a row is a reason to break up. This is not a harsh policy, but the result of what is written in the first paragraph.

4. calculate the volume of tasks accurately

Keeping your finger on the pulse is easy when the person is around. To understand whether he or she is doing well remotely, you need to calculate even more precisely what the employee should and can realistically do in a certain period. It is better to spend more time on planning than to be disappointed at the end of the month from unrealized expectations. And to disappoint both the manager and the employee.

5. Provide a wall and show value

Imagine that you are pushing a man in the shoulder. If there is nothing behind him, he will fall. If you push the employee morally, emotionally, by the number of tasks or, in the case of Skyeng, by the quality bar, he will simply leave. But we, as a still young and still actively developing school, can’t afford a normal job. If we want to be the best in the market, we have to work much better than others.

What to do? Provide a wall. Let the employee have a reliable, important thing behind his/her back – pride in the product, a good salary, and for some, even the very possibility to work remotely from his/her city/country.

Let him have something to fall back on, something to strive for. If he understands not only the personal benefit of his work, but also the benefit for the whole company, his remoteness will not play any role.

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