You might be unintentionally favoring the people you sit next to every day. Here’s how to give equal consideration for promotions to remote workers
The popularity of remote working continues to surge. Many industry experts and entrepreneurs have weighed in on its pros and cons.
One overlooked question I’ve been thinking about is whether or not remote workers’ advancement opportunities are overlooked. Is it harder for a remote worker to get a promotion or a raise? It seems reasonable to predict that employees who work remotely have a lower chance of being promoted or advancing their career compared to their in-house counterparts, who have direct face-time with their managers. Especially if your team is hybrid, the in-house employees have a lot more visibility than remote workers: you can sit down with them for lunch in the office, for example, can go out with them for drinks at a bar or for coffee. It’s harder to replicate that with a remote employee.
Here are three possible solutions we’ve put in place that could help you ensure both in-house and remote employees have an equal chance of landing that coveted promotion.
Standardise performance reviews across in-house and remote talent
We make sure to have clear guidelines regarding when employees are evaluated for promotions as well as how they will be evaluated. While some companies focus reviews solely on performance, we have chosen to give equal weight to performance and cultural fit in our evaluations. By clearly stating to everyone when and how performance reviews will be conducted (and by including that information in our handbook), we eliminate confusion and uncertainty.
The best way we’ve found to measure work performance is to use a task management platform like Asana, Trello or Basecamp, where each person is held accountable to complete specific tasks or reach certain goals before a deadline. To do this well, the tasks have to be clearly communicated, assigned to one person and have a deadline. Of course, we try to be realistic as our timeline estimates are not always perfect, but the clearer the communication around goals, tasks and performance reviews, the better and fairer the outcomes become for everyone.
The main problem this addresses is the challenges of overseeing the productivity of a hybrid team. A remote team might work during different hours, making it appear as if they are not working as hard or are not as dedicated. This method does not look at input, the hours spent at work; instead, it focuses on output relative to our goals.
Organise annual all-company trips
In-person interaction is a fail-proof solution for bringing your team closer together. In the early days of VenturePact, we chose to take our team on a trip to Puerto Rico. We figured a resort setting with great weather would get everyone excited.
Without the distractions of quotidian office life, we were able to build stronger relationships with everyone on the team and come up with great high-level ideas. That said, while team trips offer a great opportunity, games and events, it’s important to organise one-on-one time with the remote members: This is where they will really open up about their thoughts on what you can do to be a more remote-friendly environment. On our trip, for instance, one of our team members discussed creating a company Whatsapp group to share fun stories about work or personal life. After implementing their idea, we found that it allowed all remote employees to be involved in discussions that would usually be limited to in-office team members or one specific team.
The main problem company-wide trips solve is that you provide remote workers with an opportunity to build personal relationships, feel like they are part of the team and show that they align well with the culture. And by providing them with a chance to give their candid feedback, you can identify new ways to level the promotion field and improve their career experience.
Build a “remote culture”
There are four key areas that we have found to matter most when building a remote culture and holding our team accountable for upholding it:
- We are very clear about our core values. Every team member knows that we value positivity, persistence and a sense of urgency as all our values are in our handbook and are regularly discussed.
- We recommend implementing Slack channels or Hipchat rooms so that remote members can participate in conversations. Encourage your team to share interesting articles, current events and travel plans.
- We make sure to speak to each team member about their long-term goals. Encourage everyone to be honest about their career goals and how the company can help them get there, regardless of whether the company is included in those future plans.
- We always iterate and are open to suggestions as to how we can improve the culture. Building a fair and powerful remote culture such that all employees are and feel fairly treated is not easy. Experiment with ideas and try new strategies out to keep everyone integrated and aligned.
Remote working is rapidly growing and evolving. As more businesses adopt remote or hybrid models, they will inevitably discover their own problems and solutions. The important thing is to not get discouraged. Focus on the benefits of having a remote team and accessing the best talent anywhere in the world. These strategies are a great first step; for us, they helped even out the playing field and resolve doubts around performance and cultural reviews. This way everyone on the team is comfortable, on the same page and can focus on collectively growing the company.
Randy Rayess is the Co-Founder of VenturePact, a marketplace that connects companies to prescreened software development firms; he previously worked in private equity at SilverLake Partners and in machine learning. You can reach out to him at @randyrayess or on linkedin.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organisation comprising the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship programme that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
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