How to Part Ways With a Remote Worker and Do It Gracefully

When an employer is new to the interviewing process, the stakes are high and so are their nerves. Over time, young employers become comfortable and confident with the interview process—learning what screening techniques, questions and professionalism aspects make for hiring a successful candidate.

Unfortunately, the process of firing someone is much the same as hiring. Nerves are high and stakes are even higher.

Parting with an employee gracefully is difficult in part because it’s a skill which no one wants to develop. It’s emotional, it can get messy and legal complications can crop up if the employer is not careful. However, just as the interview process needs to be approached with grace and respect, so too does the process of firing an employee.

What NOT to do:

Firing an in-house employee is far different from firing a remote worker. Since the employee is not in house, the temptation to fire them in ways that are easy to slip under the rug is strong. However, since the relationship with the remote employee has a pallor of distance, creating favorable connection in even this interaction is crucial.

Before we get into the practices you should implement, we’re going to look at how not to fire a remote employee.

* Do not fire them hastily.

Be sure to be looking at the calendar as you’re deciding when to downsize your remote workforce. While there is never an ideal time to tell someone, “you’re fired,” letting someone go just before the holiday season is bad form.

* Do not fire them outside of work hours.

While it is tempting to contact your remote employee when they are not working, this demonstrates unprofessionalism and will leave the remote employee feeling jaded and cheated out of their own personal time.

* Do not fire them over a chat or an email conversation.

This is for the same reason you should never break up with someone over text. Not only is it disrespectful, it leaves the employee in a position to fully interpret your words however they wish. They do not have the benefit of your body language or your tonality to understand your attitude. You may tell them you’re downsizing the company and need to let them go, but the employee can misinterpret those words without hearing your compassion behind them.

What to Do:

The best way to fire your employee depends on your business policy and the type of relationship you had with them before.

* Do it face-to-face.

Booking a flight out to see your remote employee-even if you only see them in person a few times a year—sets you apart from other companies who merely fire over video chat. While it may be tempting to fly your employee into the office, it’s a better practice for you to go to them.

Firstly, you’re respecting your employee’s time. Secondly, you can leave the situation of the conversation go sour.

If your remote employee is an independent contractor whom you have never spoken with in person, there’s no need to fly out to see them. However, it is necessary to do firing in a face-to-face manner. Using video chat software like Skype or Zoom is a way of showing your employee respect.

* Get your paperwork in order.

Once you’ve decided to fire an employee for whatever reason, it is important to have your paperwork in order. Speaking with HR to make sure that everything is in order with terminating their contract is crucial for protecting yourself against legal action.

* Have an action plan for receiving your resources.

In addition to having your paperwork in order, you need to have an action plan for getting all of your data and sensitive information back from your employee. You need to ensure that they turn over their copies of legal documents and projects that they have been working on.

While they may need certain project credits for building a portfolio, ensure that all of your non-copyrighted material is returned to you without any backups on their devices.

* Be compassionate.

Firing employees is an emotional experience for both the employer and the employee. No matter what terms you were parting on, for a time you were part of the same family pursuing the same goals. Treat them with respect and honesty. Be direct.

If you are firing them based on performance, be sure to begin and end your criticisms with positive traits. Tell them how they made a difference in the company and how those traits will be good assets for them moving forward.

To Sum Up

Overall, there are several keys to firing a remote employee in a graceful and respectful manner. Respecting their time is crucial. Firing them outside of the holiday season allows you to make sure that they are in a good financial position so they have time to

make a transition. Firing them in a face-to-face manner within office hours is another way of respecting their time.

Lastly, be sure to have all of your paperwork and action plans in order before you meet with them. Being clear, concise, but compassionate allows you to offer your employee respect and show them that you truly care for them as a person even though they are no longer fit for your company.

Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.

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