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4 Tips for Solving Remote Job Performance Problems

Search Remotely Solve Poor Remote Job Performance

There may be a lot of remote workers performing remote job tasks at home who are concerned about how their work performance is perceived by their manager, supervisors and remote team leaders. If you read remote work research, the heightened levels of anxiety experienced by employees with remote jobs may not be entirely without basis.

38% managers negatively perceive remote job performance

A study of the perceptions of managers that appeared in the Harvard Business Review, (HBR) uncovered data showing that 38% of managers felt that “remote workers usually perform worse than those who work in the office.”

Remote workers performing remote job tasks at home,  may have this foreboding feeling that there is a lot of negative outside judgement pressing against them. Workers performing remote jobs at home may also experience a sense of uneasiness in their gut and harbor thoughts of lack of control.

Less time in physical presence of boss: fewer warning signals

While there are many advantages to remote work (lower transportation costs, reduced meal expenditures, more time with family, increased flexibility), there is one disadvantage. A reduction in the time spent in the physical presence of one’s boss or subordinate means that it could be increasingly difficult for managers of remote workers and the remote workers themselves to send and to intuitively pickup and read the social cues.

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Virtual meetings, discussion forums, phone calls and chat messages; while convenient can be lacking in this area. This paucity of multidimensional communication expressed  nonverbally (traditional social distancing, facial expressions, body movements, gestures, voice tone and inflictions) are social cues managers often use to send early warning signals conveying to their subordinates that a change of course is in order.

This informal engagement is usually done well before a formal performance review has been written, documented and filed in the employee’s records.

Remote workers physiological early warning signals

This is not to say that remote workers are blind to their predicament. Physiological changes take place in the body alerting us to impending disasters.

The normal sleep habits of a poor performing remote worker may be off. They may experience a lack of energy and loss of interest in things about which they were formerly passionate. Plus,  the inner determination, focus and attention to detail required to complete remote job tasks and accomplish goals  are inaccessible. This can cause additional stress. In the back of their mind,  they may know that they have let themselves down personally and professionally. They also may feel as though they have not met the expectations of their bosses or their loved ones.

Oftentimes, remote workers will not undergo a dramatic intervention at the first sign of inadequate performance.  People (and most importantly ‘their boss‘) may not say anything at all in prosperous economic times. But in recessionary periods, remote workers may not be given the benefit of the doubt or a lengthy time period to ‘get it together.’

One worker’s poor remote job performance impacts everyone

Eventually, poor performers may realize that the inability to get their remote job done at the level expected of them also negatively impacts their coworkers. So, its not just the individual remote worker whose remote job may be in jeopardy, it could be their unsatisfactory performance affects their department, division and the company as a whole; not to mention the company’s customers and clients.

It’s when feelings like this arise that it is known that something must be done about it. If it left unattended, remote workers will suffer the consequences of their inability to read the warning signals their body has been giving them as well failing to grasp the nuanced messaging from their bosses.

Remote team leaders working for remote first employers may simply feel the disappointment and buyers remorse  stemming from the employees disorganization. They may quietly hope that they will get back on track on their own. Later, they may feel the need to speak up. This can come in the form of subtle comments, a gentle nudge, or by expressing paternalistic or maternalistic showing care and concern.

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Eventually, when remote workers can not single-handedly pulling themselves out of a correctable rut; remote managers need to step in and grasp the bull by its horns.

Why? Because customers will start to lodge complaints and give the company poor product and service reviews on account of an ineffective remote workers of whom they came in contact.  Companies may be shut out of joint venture agreements, expanded market share because of the poor performance of one or several individuals. A remote worker nor their immediate remote team leader or remote manager would ever want to let the situation escalate to this stage.

Remote team leaders working for remote first employers may simply feel the disappointment stemming from your disorganization and quietly hope that you’ll get it back on track. Later, they may feel the need to speak up. This can come in the form of subtle comments or even showing care and concern.

4 Tips for resolving poor remote job performance issues

For remote employers looking for suggestions on ways in which to resolve poor performance issues of remote workers carrying out remote job tasks, InfoTech makes the following suggestions:

  1. Clarify the employee’s role, tasks, and remote job responsibilities.
  2. Determine the root cause of poor performance. Is it rooted in the inability to maintain personal and work boundaries? Could it be lack of self initiative? What about faulty or nonexistent corporate policies and procedures?
  3. Create template to be used as a boilerplate performance improvement plan for your remote workforce that can be modified to fit the unique situation of individual remote working employees.
  4. Give to managers of remote teams the resources needed to identify and track the performance of remote workers performing remote job tasks.

5 Bonus tips to resolve poor remote job performance

SearchRemotely.com provides additional suggestions:

  1. During the onboarding process, provide the newly hired remote worker with a schematic of KPI (key performance indicators).
  2. During orientation and training provide examples of KPIs, role play various scenarios.
  3. Solicit employee feedback on KPIs and make adaptations as appropriate.
  4. Align support, tools and resources to specific problem areas (timeliness, professionalism, process improvement, insubordination, and policy violations) before infractions escalate to a dischargeable offense.
  5. Determine whether necessary resources were in place to perform the remote job satisfactorily (broadband, VPN, devices, tools, etc).
  6. Conduct a strength, weakness, opportunities and threat analysis to determine if the employee is salvageable warranting a lateral transfer or re-training.