Ep 197 – How to Lead Remote Workers

On today’s podcast, I’d like to talk about how we as HR leaders can set the standard for our companies on communication and workflow for remote employees. In its 2019 Future Workforce Report, freelancing website Upwork reports that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of companies today have remote workers and 2 out of 5 full-time employees will be working remotely in the next three years. While increased adoption of remote work is making it easier for companies to find the talent they need – over half (52%) of hiring managers that work at companies with work-from-home policies believe hiring has become easier in the past year – educating our hiring managers on working with remote teams effectively hasn’t necessarily kept pace with these numbers. In today’s show, we’re going to talk specifics about what HR leaders can do to give managers the tools and training they need to lead remote teams.

This podcast is sponsored by ClearCompany.

Ep 198: How to Lead Remote Workers (@HRBrainforHire)

I’m joined today by Delmar Johnson with HR Brain for HR. One of the biggest challenges for managers today is managing and also leading employees. Our workforce has changed dramatically over the last 5-7 years especially when it comes to the number of remote workers. Delmar who has worked in HR as a practitioner for many years and now as an HR consultant has seen the shift too. She was a remote worker herself in corporate and has the unique perspective that I wanted to really tap into.

Help Your Leaders Be Intentional in Their Team Engagement

I asked Delmar about what is the best way for leaders to keep remote employees and team members engaged. It’s such a challenge especially if you are the only remote worker on your team when the rest of them are working in the office on a regular basis. She says that the key is for the leader to be intentional. She says that scheduling time and working hard to include all remote workers in conversations, meetings, trainings, and also making time for that relationship building is critical to keeping your remote workers feeling part of the team.

When that trust and communication with remote workers is established, they feel more valued. These are the two key factors in all things in business. You know, you want to keep them. - @hrbrainforhire #remoteworkers #podcast Click To Tweet

As far as tools to make this happen, Delmar recommends technology to be a driving factor in helping you achieve this with video technology like Zoom, Slack, and other messaging platforms to help allow for communciation and relationship building. On my team we are mostly all remote. We have a group of international team members too. What’s App has been a great technology to help keep our team connected. I love it because it’s free and we are going where our employees are already spending their time. Sort of like text messaging peers to check in versus sending them an email where they might overlook your conversation or miss a critical communciation.

The Importance of Expectations for All Employees Including Remote Workers

One of the other challenges when you have a dispersed or remote team is managing their productivity and performance levels. Delmar says that setting expectations from the beginning is critical to ensure that employees understand what they need to do in order to get the job done. And ongoing she says that we, as leaders should be checking in with those employees giving them feedback and being direct and honest with them if they aren’t meeting performance expectations. If we are talking by phone or over the screen it can be a challenge because we can’t read each other’s body language. So be open and up front if someone has missed the mark. Talk with them, be clear, and have them put together a plan of action of how they are going to go about meeting productivity or performance levels.


Understanding that hiring and employing a dispersed workforce is the new normal is critical to making a significant shift in how we work with remote employees and candidates, and how we make those experiences as seamless and productive as possible. Remote work has become a vital part of a company’s operations and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to get advice from Delmar Johnson as a leader in this space.

Thank you for joining the Workology Podcast sponsored by ClearCompany This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell. Until next time, visit Workology.com to listen to all our episodes of the Workology podcast.

Connect with Delmar Johnson.



– How to Manage, Hire and Lead Your Remote Workforce

– Flexibility Stigma: How Bias Against Remote Work Causes Overwork

– Remote Workers Have Labor Law Posting Requirements

– Upwork Future of Work Study

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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