Remote Workers Working Remotely in a Remote Office – Part II

In my first post about working remotely, it focused on what should be happening at the mother ship to ensure the remote worker successfully started in their new position.

But “remote” is a bidirectional communication. The home office needs to communicate and connect to the remote office, but the remote office/worker needs to communicate and feel connected to the home office.

Too many times when a company hires a remote worker, I see an unexpressed conflict. The company hires a remote sales resource under the auspices of growing the company but what they really want is a mercenary. The employee takes the job under the auspices the company wants to grow and that the company will provide support to that end. The company wants someone to go into the territory–independent of company culture and without any supporting company-based background–and begin producing sales. They want the sales rep to “crush the competition” “steal sales away” “bust into the territory” and other pugilistic possibilities. They want for someone to establish a name for the company in that new territory as quickly as possible.

Now I can hear your collective brains buzzing, “What’s wrong with that?” And for both the newly hired and the newly hiring, there is nothing wrong as of yet, except the gap between what’s discussed before hiring and what happens after hiring is like looking into a reflection pool. Not the reflection part so much, but what’s lurking underneath. How deep is that water under the surface? I may see the reflection of the company on top, but is it supported? Is this freshly minted corporate mercenary presenting the best foot forward for what the customer needs–and what the customer expects? How should the remote worker communicate to the mother ship what they are doing? And, if they are doing it correctly and to expected corporate standard.

This goes back to the previous post, but by instilling culture and expectations the company looks to see that message spread from the rep to the customer. And just like parenting, after initial hand holding by the mother ship and then giving progressively more autonomy, the company transfers its corporate image and beliefs, and the remote worker has a better chance of reflecting that image in their local market.

So I said the remote worker should be communicating to the corporate office, but what should they be communicating? Here’s where it gets a little complicated for me to explain, and not sound like I’m completely tap dancing, but the remote worker needs a neutral resource to which they communicate their activity, their efforts and their plan–in short, a mentor. Not their manager, but someone at HQ who knows the systems, understands what the worker is trying to do (in this case, sales) and give them perspective and guidance. This allows a conduit for the remote worker to HQ, as well as a way for corporate culture to be shone back upon our remote newbie. And, we don’t have to use the same mentor all the time and paring only one-to-one, but use more than one mentor and expose our remote guy (or gal) to others in the organization as well.

I’ll probably write about mentors in sales operations at a later date, but there is a reason people need mentors: they don’t come into a position knowing everything. I’ve heard it stated that for experienced hires, companies hire someone with 60% – 80% of the desired skill set expecting to train for the remaining needed skills. That means the new hire is still lacking 20% – 40% of the knowledge needed. So this begs the question, how are you treating your remote employees? Or if you are remote, how are you being treated? Now, reverse the ask on those two questions. Open communication between the remote employee and the company HQ will only make things better. And that, in the end, will bring more sales, and ultimately enable better Sales Operations.

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