The Way We Work
December 13, 2010 by Erica Benton

Like in-person relationships, building trust with remote coworkers and contractors can be both challenging and rewarding. A successful working relationship means that you can rely on that person to deliver on time and on budget, and trust that your communication with them is clear enough for them to meet or exceed your expectations every time. Here are our 3 steps to build a successful remote work relationship:

Make sure the person you hire will be the right fit for your job.

1. Start Small

You’ve carefully selected the right candidate for the position, and you’re confident they can handle your 30 hours-per-week position. So why start slow?

While you’ve reviewed the contractor’s profile, interviewed them thoroughly and sent them a complete new hire care package, you have barely scratched the surface in building the trust needed to successfully work together over time. Begin your first contract together with a small set of activities that are easily review-able and don’t require access to secure areas of your business. As your relationship grows, so can the contractor’s responsibilities and access can be granted on an as-needed basis to the more sensitive areas that their work touches. By starting small, you’re giving the contractor every opportunity to earn your trust and grow their business with you.

2. Review the Work

Check the contractor’s work diary regularly. As you review the work, jot notes to discuss with the contractor, making sure to ask plenty of “why” questions to help you better understand the thought process behind the work and how well the contractor truly understands the work. In places where the work does not meet expectations, ask yourself if you provided everything necessary for your remote worker to succeed. (They may be a rockstar designer, but if they don’t know your company’s colors are green and blue, they’ll be hard-pressed to come up with a compelling website design to represent your business.)

Checking phone3. Regular Check-Ups

As part of your on-boarding process, schedule weekly or monthly meetings with your contractor. Use this time to go over the work performed, making sure to go over the list of questions you noted when reviewing the work. Make sure the contractor knows that your attention is devoted to them during this time – no distractions – and encourage them to ask questions or share concerns. A relationship is a two-way interaction–deciding that you want a long-term relationship with your contractor does little good if they don’t feel the same about you and your business!

What else can you do to build a successful working relationship with remote workers? Let us know in the comments!

Erica Benton

Social Media Guru

Erica Benton joined oDesk in 2009, bringing with her nearly a decade of small business and freelance experience, and a love of all things social. Her passion for startups, technology and marketing was born during her tenure with Kulesa Faul Public Relations, while she learned the art of entrepreneurship firsthand through Equine Alternatives, a business she founded while earning her Bachelor of Science degree from… read more