How To Set Employee Expectations For Remote Work: 3 Great Ways


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Ah, the modern age – a time when you can order a pizza with a single click, talk to a friend halfway across the globe like they’re next door, and manage your team of remote employees while still in your pajamas.

Well, if you’ve found yourself navigating the world of remote work, you’re not alone. Many of us are wrangling with the question of how to set employee expectations for remote work without sounding like an overbearing parent reminding their teenager to clean their room. Trust me, I’ve been there.

In today’s digital-first world, remote workers are becoming the norm rather than the exception. And while this brings about countless advantages (hello, no commute!), it also presents its own set of challenges. How can you ensure your remote employees are on the same page, all while respecting their autonomy and unique work environments?

By the end of this post, you’ll have a clear blueprint on exactly that. Grab a cup of coffee, or tea if that’s your jam, and let’s dive into these 3 foolproof ways to set clear and effective expectations for your remote team. And yes, you can keep your pajamas on. I won’t judge.

working on PC with a Zoom call

Great Way #1: Establish Clear Communication Protocols

You know, there was a time when I mistakenly thought sending an emoji-filled text was a legitimate way to communicate crucial project updates. 😅 Boy, was I wrong! When it comes to setting employee expectations for remote teams, the first and possibly most critical step is establishing clear communication protocols.

I can’t stress this enough: the nature of remote work means your team isn’t just around the corner in the next cubicle.

The days of shouting over the partition or catching up at the water cooler are long gone. For a remote team to function smoothly, every team member must know not only what to communicate but also how and when to do so. After all, clarity is the backbone of efficiency. Let’s delve into what this can look like for you and your remote team.

The Importance of Communication

It was a Thursday evening, and I remember frantically looking for an update from a team member on a project. After a couple of anxiety-driven hours, it hit me: I hadn’t set clear remote work expectations around communication.

In a traditional office, you can simply pop into someone’s cubicle or chat briefly at the coffee machine. But in the realm of remote work, those casual touchpoints disappear. Communicating effectively becomes even more vital. Not just for the smooth running of tasks, but to foster a sense of connection and belonging.

Proper communication ensures everyone’s on the same page, and nobody’s left feeling isolated or out of the loop. It’s the glue that binds together the fabric of a remote team, ensuring that even though you’re miles apart, you’re perfectly in sync with one another’s expectations.

Tools And Platforms

Back in the day, I used to manage my tasks with sticky notes plastered all over my workspace. Quaint, right? But here’s a twist: Once, I lost an essential note behind my desk, and let’s just say it led to some… unexpected results.

With remote workers spread across different time zones and work hours, such old-school methods just won’t cut it.

The digital era offers a plethora of tools and platforms specially designed to aid in managing remote teams. Whether it’s Slack for instant messaging, Trello for task management, or Zoom for those all-important video calls, having the right remote work tools in your arsenal is crucial.

It’s not just about making life simpler; it’s about ensuring your remote employees have the resources they need to meet (and exceed!) expectations. After all, managing remote teams with efficiency requires more than just goodwill; it requires the right digital toolkit.

Scheduled Check-ins

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I once went a whole week without any team meetings because, well, “out of sight, out of mind.” Big mistake!

It’s easy to forget the importance of regular face-to-face interactions when managing remote teams, especially when everyone seems to be doing just fine. But scheduled check-ins aren’t just about task updates. They’re the equivalent of those impromptu desk drop-ins or coffee breaks we miss from office life.

These check-ins provide a chance to connect, recalibrate, and ensure that all remote employees are aligned with the company’s goals. It’s a time to celebrate achievements, address concerns, and reinforce team camaraderie.

So, while it might be tempting to skip out on a meeting or two, remember: those scheduled check-ins might just be the lifeline that keeps your remote team thriving and connected.

Feedback Loop

I still chuckle when I remember my early days of managing a team, thinking that sending an occasional thumbs-up emoji was a sufficient form of feedback. While it’s cute, it hardly gives a comprehensive view, doesn’t it?

In the vast and intricate realm of remote work, establishing a robust feedback loop is not just recommended—it’s essential. As we manage remote teams, it’s paramount that team members inform each other of what’s working, what’s not, and where improvements can be made. This ensures that remote workers never feel like they’re navigating their roles blindly and can consistently align their efforts with team objectives.

A well-structured feedback loop doesn’t just correct course; it fosters growth, innovation, and a sense of shared purpose among remote workers. It’s like providing a compass in the digital wilderness, ensuring every team member is heading in the right direction.

Woman working with headset

Great Way #2: Set Measurable Objectives and Outcomes

A friend of mine, in his zest for remote leadership, once declared, “Just do your best!” to his team. While the sentiment was noble, it left everyone scratching their heads. What did “best” even mean in that context?

Setting employee expectations is much like giving directions: the clearer and more precise you are, the likelier the journey will be smooth and the destination reached. In the ever-evolving landscape of remote work, this means transitioning from abstract ambitions to clear, measurable objectives.

When remote employees know precisely what’s expected of them, it not only elevates their performance but also boosts their confidence and sense of purpose. After all, remote work expectations should be less about guesswork and more about clarity.

Let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of establishing measurable benchmarks for success in the world of remote work.

Outcome-Based Expectations

I recall a time when I handed out a project with the guidance, “Make it look good.” That was it. While my remote workers tried their best, the end result varied wildly from what I had envisioned. Needless to say, it didn’t end up looking as ‘good’ as I had hoped it would.

And it wasn’t my team’s fault, it was mine. Lesson learned.

Working remotely brings forth the need to shift from vague directives to outcome-based expectations. It’s not about clocking hours or being seen online; it’s about the tangible results achieved. By setting clear expectations that focus on outcomes, you give your remote team members a target to aim for, an end goal that’s both quantifiable and meaningful.

This approach not only ensures alignment but also grants the flexibility that is the very essence of working remotely. After all, it’s not about the journey—it’s the destination that counts. Well, at least in this context!

Use of KPIs and Metrics

I remember a period when I was obsessed with tracking work hours, thinking it was the golden standard for productivity. If Jane worked 10 hours straight, surely she was a superstar, right? Well, not necessarily. All it did was burn Jane out when I needed her the most.

My “eureka” moment came when I realized that the number of working hours doesn’t directly correlate to the quality or effectiveness of work done. This is where KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and other metrics swoop in to save the day.

Instead of focusing on the sheer amount of working hours, these tools measure the real impact of tasks accomplished, offering a more accurate gauge when setting remote work expectations.

Whether it’s the number of tasks completed, the percentage of deadlines met, or customer satisfaction ratings, KPIs provide a tangible way to assess and guide performance. It’s like switching from a stopwatch to a compass, guiding your team towards true north in the vast sea of remote work.

Regular Progress Reports

One summer, I embarked on a DIY gardening project. I was all enthusiastic but had no clear roadmap. Days turned into weeks, and all I had to show were a few wilted plants and a lot of confusion. It dawned on me that without regular check-ins on my progress, I was merely shooting in the dark. (I can garden a lot better now.)

Similarly, in the world of remote work, we need to shed light on our journey. For remote employees, regular progress reports aren’t just a formality; they’re the breadcrumbs that help navigate the forest of tasks and goals. These reports offer a structured way to review what’s been achieved and what lies ahead. By implementing them, we not only set remote work expectations but also open up communication channels for feedback and collaboration.

Think of it as a bi-weekly or monthly postcard from your remote employee, giving you a snapshot of their remote work journey, ensuring they’re on the right track and thriving.

Great Way #3: Foster Accountability and Independence

When I first dipped my toes into the waters of remote and hybrid work, I had this vision of constantly peeking into virtual windows to ensure everyone was working. It was a bit like imagining myself as a digital “Big Brother” (minus the sinister undertones). But with time, I realized that micromanaging isn’t the key.

Empowering remote employees to take ownership of their tasks, while also celebrating team milestones, is the real magic. It’s about striking that balance between independence and accountability.

When remote employees feel trusted and confident to handle their responsibilities, they not only meet but often exceed expectations. And when the entire team pulls together to acknowledge shared achievements, it reinforces the sense of unity and purpose.

Let’s dive deeper into how you can cultivate this balance and propel your remote team to even greater heights.

Trust but Verify

I’ll never forget when, during one of our early remote team setups, I gave a team member a critical project without much oversight. When the due date rolled around, I was handed a beautifully crafted presentation… on a completely unrelated topic. Facepalm moment, right?

It was then that I coined my remote management mantra: “Trust but Verify.” It means setting clear ground rules, allowing room for autonomy, but also having mechanisms in place to monitor progress.

This isn’t about doubting capabilities; it’s about ensuring alignment. Regular team meetings act as checkpoints, while stringent data security measures ensure everyone’s playing by the rules.

By marrying trust with validation, we pave the way for a remote work environment that’s efficient, secure, and brimming with mutual respect.

Training and Onboarding

I recall hiring a new team member, Sarah, during the height of our transition to remote work. Eagerly, I threw her into the deep end, hoping she’d catch the vibe and figure things out. Two weeks later, amidst a sea of unanswered emails and misplaced tasks, I realized my oversight. Poor Sarah was overwhelmed and quit the team.

Transitioning to remote work isn’t just about tools and tech; it’s about instilling communication expectations, company culture, and operational norms from day one. Effective training and onboarding ensure employees are not just equipped with the right resources, but also aligned with the company’s ethos and expectations.

It’s like providing a compass and map to a traveler in a new city. Without them, they’ll be lost.

By prioritizing a comprehensive onboarding process, we pave a smooth path for our remote team members, helping them become valuable contributors from the get-go. It’s an investment that pays off in manifold ways, strengthening both individual confidence and collective output.

Team Collaboration and Dependency

A few years ago, I collaborated on a project with a colleague who, funnily enough, lived just two blocks away from me. Though we could have easily met up at a local café, we chose to work remotely, leveraging a slew of communication tools.

And here’s the kicker: our collaboration was as seamless as if we were sitting at the same location. The experience was eye-opening.

It reinforced the idea that while working remotely might mean physical distance, it doesn’t equate to professional isolation. In fact, working from separate corners of the world (or the same city, in my case) can foster an even deeper sense of interdependence.

With the right communication tools in hand, teams can remain tightly-knit, each member understanding their role in the larger tapestry. After all, the essence of remote work isn’t independence for independence’s sake, but an intricate dance of collaboration and mutual reliance.

Working at a desk in a cow pasture

Conclusion and Solution

As I reflect on the many nuances of remote work, from setting expectations to fostering collaboration, one thing becomes crystal clear: having the right infrastructure and tools is non-negotiable. Navigating the vast ocean of remote work can be daunting, but with the right compass, the journey is rewarding.

If you’re pondering over how to seamlessly integrate these practices into your remote or hybrid team, consider a platform that simplifies, streamlines, and amplifies the remote work experience.

Curious about such a solution? has been a game-changer for many businesses, including mine. From automated onboarding and payroll management to creating contracts and sending equipment worldwide, Deel can do it all.

But don’t take my word for it. Why not take a moment to explore what they offer?

Remember, the right tools make all the difference in charting a successful course in the realm of remote work. Dive in and discover how Deel can be the compass you’ve been seeking.

Find out what Deel can do for your biz.

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