The distributed workforce has led to many benefits for both employers and workers. While companies can benefit from having a diverse workforce and a broad array of talents across the globe, employees enjoy the flexibility of working from anywhere. Even if employees don’t share a physical office space, it’s still important for everyone to feel connected.
Both remote and in-house employees need to feel a strong link between themselves and the rest of the company to avoid loneliness, maintain productivity and creativity, and know they’re playing a meaningful role in helping the organization meet its goals. Fortunately, it’s still possible to engage your remote employees—it just takes a unique approach. Here’s how to make remote employees feel connected to your company.
How to make remote team members feel more connected
Maintain open lines of communication
Your remote employees won’t have the benefit of chatting with colleagues as they see them in the hallway, but you can still give them virtual opportunities for informal conversations. Create a “water cooler” channel and other channels that might appeal to specific interests, like TV, sports, and pet photos, on your company’s chat platform. Employees can share personal updates and participate in conversations about topics that interest them.
It can be more challenging for remote employees to know where they stand without face-to-face discussions with supervisors. You can help them get a clear picture of their performance with consistent, specific feedback. This will let them know that you’re paying attention to the contributions they make, which can make them feel connected to their work and the impact it has. Aim to provide feedback that’s honest, constructive, and timely.
Let team members assess managers
While remote team members need feedback from you to do their best, they’re also more likely to thrive when they have an opportunity to give feedback to their managers. Empower your direct reports to assess your performance as a manager. You could either offer anonymous surveys or ask them directly how you’re doing. Simply checking in from time to time and asking if there’s anything they need from you will help them feel supported.
Make time for social calls
While a water cooler channel is a good start for encouraging connection among remote workers, you can also invite teams to interact by holding routine social calls. Having a virtual coffee catchup can be a fun and inviting way to keep team members connected. Consider taking turns sharing updates on topics unrelated to work to get the conversation flowing.
Hold regular team meetings
Just as important as informal virtual meetings are work-related calls. Synchronous team meetings should be held at regular intervals and scheduled for a time that best accommodates everyone’s schedules. These check-ins can be brief, but they should provide the opportunity to get aligned on goals and contributions.
To keep meetings on track, have each team member discuss what they’ve finished recently, what they’re currently working on, and what they intend to wrap up before your next check-in. Managers should follow up with questions on the status of any key deliverables as needed. These virtual meetings give both in-house and remote employees a clear sense of purpose and direction, and more importantly, routine meetings allow the whole team to feel connected.
Call out successes
Sometimes, remote workers can feel as if their contributions are invisible to others on the team. One way to ensure their work gets noticed by colleagues is to mention it in a public channel. Simply saying thank you or congratulations for a job well done or the completion of a project can make remote employees feel seen. Offer these accolades in whatever communication channel feels right, whether it’s during a video chat, by email, or via your company’s chat platform.
A final but important way to keep your remote employees connected is to hold fun events virtually. Remote workers often experience FOMO (“fear of missing out”) since they don’t get to enjoy some of the fun aspects of working directly with others. Bring the fun to them with games, themed meetings, and celebratory parties online. Some ideas to consider are:
- A monthly virtual book club
- An after-hours cooking demonstration
- Weekly trivia competitions
- A virtual talent show
- Breaks for online versions of board games
- A drop-in happy hour video chat
- An office-wide fantasy sports league
If you’re not sure where to start, consider your company culture. You can always have several different types of running social events or poll employees to see which they’d like best. No matter which options you decide on, be sure to send out notices and reminders so remote employees can plan to attend.
Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, engage, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.
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