All across the business landscape, working remotely is becoming more common. Remote work allows companies to source for talent from a much larger pool since proximity to the company headquarters is no longer a requirement. Workers who are allowed to work offsite can deliver amazing results and are often more productive than their onsite counterparts because they are able to plan out their workday better and minimize interruptions. Given all the benefits of remote work, it seems like it should be a win-win situation for both parties—but that’s not always the case.
Remote workers often feel isolated, something that has the potential to decrease their work output. Dylan Menders, an HR specialist at а health company, says that “interactions with colleagues during breaks and physical team meetings help workers connect in an office setting and these are some of the perks that remote workers don’t get to experience.” However, with better planning, it is easy to help remote workers interact with their colleagues regularly. Here are 5 tips for getting that done.
Communicate Better with #Slack
Slack is one of the best collaborative tools for connecting with remote workers. Email has been the preferred corporate communication tool for some time, but its rigidity doesn’t work well for remote teams. Slack solves this problem by organizing team communication into different channels. Serious work issues can be discussed in the work-related channels, whereas general or family issues can be discussed in a different channel. Allowing for this kind of organic conversation will go a long way towards making remote workers feel more connected to their colleagues.
Example from Industry
Harvest, a time-tracking software company, uses Slack for its remote team communication. The members are able to communicate seamlessly on the platform on project issues, and the social channels are used for friendly and non-work-related chats. This has enhanced collaboration among team members, and the company’s performance has improved as a result.
Use Video Calls to Hold Regular Team Meetings
Technological advancements have made it easy for people to communicate through a video stream, and this is something remote workers need to do often to build a positive work culture. Video calls provide remote members with the face time they need to cultivate good working relationships. Zoom and Skype are two of the tools that can be used for this purpose.
Example from Industry
Dell launched a remote work program dubbed Connected Workplace that encourages employees to work remotely. Since then, Dell has been holding regular video meetings to connect its remote workforce. The result has been improved project performance among remote workers.
Make Your Online Meetings Personal
When you are having an online meeting with the entire remote team, spend the first few minutes checking in with everyone and learning what they’ve been up to. An informal check in will help team members relax, making it easy to share ideas and get feedback from everyone attending the meeting. Let each member share what’s going on in their lives—both their triumphs and their challenges. This will help all team members connect on a personal level, even when they may be many miles apart.
Hold Physical Meetings Several Times Each Year
Companies should strive to gather all remote workers together in one place several times per year to allow them to spend some quality time with their colleagues. Periodic meet-ups allow the members to interact on a personal basis, which will go a long way towards making them feel more connected.
Example from Industry
DeepSky, an online accounting firm, has team members in 15 different time zones. Every three months, the company holds a retreat for its remote workers. This has helped the members connect and feel like an integral part of the company’s culture. During the retreat, they spend time reviewing and evaluating different projects as well as bonding through recreational activities.
Establish Company Traditions
Some companies with in-house employees celebrate their team members’ birthdays and other special occasions, and this is something that can also be adopted for remote workers. Make it a tradition to celebrate the birthdays of your remote workers by sending them flowers, cards, cake, or pizza. This will help team members make a stronger connection to the company and feel more invested in its success.
Working remotely can make team members feel isolated, which can have a detrimental effect on their work output. If working remotely is going to continue successfully as a business trend, companies need to invest in the relationships they have with their remote workers. By following some of the tips outlines above, companies can build stronger connections with their remote workforce and capitalize on all the benefits that remote work has to offer.
Content written by guest author: Dylan Menders
CMOE guest authors are carefully selected industry experts, researchers, writers and editors with extensive experience and a deep passion for leadership development, human capital performance, and other specialty areas. Each guest author is uniquely selected for the topic or skills areas they are focused on. All posts are peer-reviewed by CMOE.