The Importance of Setting Expectations with your Remote Staff

setting expectations with remote teams
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🖊 This article was last updated on March 13, 2020

Hiring remote workers can be an effective option for solopreneurs looking for support in their business ventures. But if certain things aren’t agreed beforehand, the solution can easily become a problem. Remotes workers can be all kinds of wonderful but they aren’t mind-readers!

This is why setting clear expectations from the very beginning is key. When remote staff knows what is expected of them they are much more likely, and more able, to deliver. Not only that, but agreeing on specific goals gives you a framework for measuring their performance.

Here are 5 tips on setting clear expectations which will allow your remote team to do what they do best! Oh, and while these tips may be more geared towards the employing entrepreneur, they are also really useful for freelancers. Remember, expectations work both ways!

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1. Communication

Agree on HOW to communicate and HOW OFTEN. First of all, try to keep communication on one platform. There are so many ways to communicate these days, email, messenger, Hangouts, Slack, Trello, Whatsapp, to name but a few!

Pick one communication channel and stick to it. This way you know where to check for incoming messages and you don’t get distracted by the constant ‘pings’ of notifications.

Secondly, choose a timeframe for responses. Remote communication has the danger of swinging one of two ways. It’s either overdrive and spamming your inbox or off-the-radar leaving you wondering if they still work for your project!

Neither are very productive.

Setting a communication time-frame helps bring a balance and peace of mind. For example, with my own remote team I’ve asked that emails are responded to within 24 hours and that goes for myself too. This gives a decent window of opportunity allowing you to reply when it’s most convenient, but not too long that it leaves either party twiddling their thumbs waiting for important answers.

2. Accountability

When you first take on a new remote team member, they will need to know what they have to do, how long they have to do it, and to what standard. Remote work requires a great deal of self-motivation but if a remote worker has been given no indication of what they are actually responsible for, then both of you are going to be frustrated and disappointed.

Handing over the reigns to another person, especially when you’ve never met face-to-face can be tough. Check out this article on delegating tasks for tips on how to effectively give ownership and responsibility to remote staff.

3. Productivity

Studies have shown that remote workers are more productive than their office-based counterparts. But again, they can only be as productive as you allow them to be.

Just as setting goals for yourself is highly important, setting them for your remote staff is also vital. setting clear and achievable milestones, such as deadlines or targets, gives remote staff the information they need to manage their time effectively. Without these milestones you might as well blindfold your remote worker and ask them to shoot at invisible, moving targets!

Milestones help motivate and build confidence when they are met. Plus, setting such expectations also allows you to easily review and assess their productivity and their progress.

4. Availability

Do you expect your remote worker to be online and available at certain times of the day? For a certain number of hours? Agreeing on these details beforehand can be important for communication and workflow, especially when you are in different time zones.

Most freelancers have chosen remote over the office 9-5 to have more control over their own schedule. So, if you have certain time requirements for your project, set it out from the get-go to avoid any problems down the line.

If you have specific needs for availability, FreeeUp allows you to set this as a requirement. This way, they can set you up with freelancers that are able to fit your schedule.

5. Trust

One of the most important parts of setting expectations is allowing the space for your employees to meet them. Agree on when or how often you will check in on progress, or ask for updates by a certain time. Try not to micro-manage!

The advantage of setting clear expectations from the beginning means that if someone is not adhering to their part of the deal, you’ll know almost immediately. Expectations are not only useful for productivity but they can also be your early warning system for both the employer and the remote employee.

Get a $25 discount on your next outsourcing project!

FreeeUp offers Habitgrowth visitors an exclusive $25 credit for their first freelance project(s).

Save time, money, and become a raving fan in the process. Just like me!

Claim the $25 credit now


No matter how many miles or hours between you and your remote team, setting expectations puts you both on the same page. They give direction and provide a framework to help you and your remote support staff to achieve what you want to achieve.

Setting expectations are not limiting, they enable. They allow for a steady workflow, maximum productivity, reduced stress, and a happier, more confident remote team that is knocking deadlines and targets out of the park. It’s a win-win situation!

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