Merge's Blog

Long-distance leadership? Plan on at least one informal phone call a week

Keeping the lines of communication open and flowing in face-to-face situations can sometimes be challenging enough, but what if you have employees who are “remote”?  If you have physical distance between you and your employees – such as staff who work in different office buildings, or work from home offices, or spend most of their time in their vehicles – then the challenges of communication multiply and compound.  Plus, remote or virtual employees often complain that they feel isolated from their bosses and the rest of the organization.

There are several things that you can do to overcome this physical distance problem, and I told you about “setting office hours” in a blog post earlier this year.  Here’s another idea.  Make it a point to informally talk (on the phone) to each of your virtual employees at least once a week.  Because this is supposed to be informal, I don’t recommend that you schedule a specific time with them.  But … there’s nothing to stop you from scheduling it into YOUR calendar so that you don’t forget.  This call is just to keep a connection.  Find out what’s going on, what are they working on, whether they need support, you get the idea.  It doesn’t need to be long, but doing this one simple activity will go a long way towards reducing the feeling of isolation that so many remote employees complain about.

For those of you who have long-distance employee relationships (or if you ARE the “remote employee”), what else works to provide enhanced support and feedback?


  • Thanks Merge. Thanks so much for bringing up these great ideas.

    Physical distance is an interesting concept. In fact, according to research if your team is 90ft apart or more you are in fact a virtual team. What is even more interesting about this fact is that the teams that were situated in the same building but on different floors performed worse then teams that were geographically dispersed because they did not view themselves as being virtual so they did not put practices in place to help them manage the virtual distance.

  • Great insights Claire … just further underlines the importance of consciously and deliberately working to keep the lines of communication open and flowing.


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