Remote work is becoming increasingly prevalent as employers look to cut costs and as technology increases the capacity for remote work. Working in an office where you have the entire team working in close proximity differs from having remote employees in many ways.
Though remote employees may do their jobs perfectly well, they can feel alienated when not working closely with a team. On-screen interaction is less personal than face-to-face communication, making remote teams feel left out.
However, making your employees feel more connected to the team is still possible. The following types will help your remote employees feel closer to the team:
Keep Lines of Communication Open
Communication is the most crucial aspect of managing teams working remotely. Therefore, you should ensure open communication to make your remote employees feel more connected to the team.
For starters, your remote team members want to feel heard, especially in light of their distance. So if an employee wants to talk, always listen to what they have to say. On the other hand, remote employees also want to hear from you and know that they are an integral part of the team.
Try fostering a culture where remote employees can voice their concerns and know their feedback is appreciated. Holding regular meetings is another way to ensure the lines of communication are open. You should host a team meeting at least once weekly for better communication.
Doing activities together is a way for people to feel instantly connected. You should, therefore, engage your remote team members in team-building activities ever so often.
Corporations have traditionally invested in team-building activities to promote team cohesion at the office. However, traditional team-building activities may be challenging for remote teams. You can still utilize technology, for example, video calls to perform various team-building activities.
The key to team-building activities is to make them fun while involving activities that encourage teamwork among employees. A few team-building activities can work wonders for team cohesion, even from thousands of miles away.
Invest In Training
Preparation is the key to success in anything and can also help your remote team members. Unfortunately, many companies never train their employees for remote work. Employees get sent to work from home or in remote locations without any preparation for the experience. Employees should receive training on the best practices for remote work so they can be ready for what awaits them. For example, if employees receive training on how to use collaboration tools, they will be better suited to remote work. Training remote employees will also ensure they get used to the isolation they may feel, making them feel less connected to their team members.
Remote team members want to know that their contributions to the team are impactful. If you remain silent, they may think you do not value them.
Therefore, it is crucial to offer them feedback about their work. Constructive criticism is a potent tool that can significantly increase work quality and performance.
You should remember that feedback is best if it is honest. If the feedback is negative, it would be best to calmly and gently correct remote team members instead of angrily scorning them. Having a platform where employees can leave feedback to which you can respond is an excellent idea for promoting a culture of providing honest feedback in your team.
Utilize Collaboration Tools
Remote teams need to communicate effectively and work with each other. It would be best if you used tools that enhance collaboration among remote team members to make your remote employees feel more connected to the team.
These tools should make it as easy as possible for the team to function cohesively. You can start using instant messaging applications, making communication faster and smoother. Another excellent idea is to use workflow management software that encourages collaboration.
For example, you can use the software to create an enterprise social network that encourages team members to collaborate on projects. Cloud-based storage tools also make it easier for every team member to access information regardless of when or where they need it.
It can be challenging for remote employees to feel appreciated, so you should go out of your way to show them appreciation. Even a simple gesture can go a long way in making your remote team members feel connected to you.
You should always show your remote team appreciation when they do a good job. Showing appreciation to someone far away is not as personal as doing it in person, but as they say, ‘it is the thought that counts.’ You can give your remote team members awards that show appreciation for their work.
Virtual employee appreciation can make remote employees happier even thousands of miles away. Offering bonuses, for example, when you complete a project, is another way of appreciation. Know your team members and how to best appreciate each of them for a remote team that feels more connected.
It would be best to hold a company or team retreat at least once a year where more employees can meet in person. Even though they may be far from each other for the rest of the year, it still helps to have face-to-face communication so your team members can feel more connected to each other.
Planning a company retreat for remote employees will be challenging because you have to choose a time and location suitable for everyone. Doing it around the holidays is a good idea since people will probably not be at work.
On the other hand, you can make the retreat about remote employees coming together and collaborating in a relaxed environment. The expense of such a retreat will be significantly offset by the benefits you gain in team cohesion.
Your team is more likely to become a family if the members genuinely know about and care for each other. Managing a remote team is a daunting challenge, and most fail.
However, you can have a better chance of having a team that feels connected if you show them appreciation, keep lines of communication open, engage in team building, offer feedback, invest in training, utilize collaboration tools and hold a company retreat. Every remote team is different, so it would be best to find out what works for your team.