Thanks to an ever-increasing number of communication tools, more companies than ever before are embracing the benefits of having remote workers, but does out of sight mean out of mind? Having a remote team means that you’re not constrained by geography when it comes to hiring top talent for your business, but there are unique challenges that companies encounter when some—or all—of their staff telecommutes to work. The strategies you use to manage your team in your brick-and-mortar location may not be as effective in keeping employees who you don’t meet in-person engaged. Fortunately, you don’t have to let a great long-distance working relationship end in a breakup. Keep your remote staff on task and enthusiastic about being part of the team with these strategies:
Build Better Communication
The boom in remote work is tied closely to the development of real-time, low-cost communication tools, but they only work if you leverage them. Your work-at-home team needs a way to communicate with the on-site employees and management staff as quickly and easily as if they were in the office. Harness the technology at your disposal to create a format for fast, virtual communication.
One of the most effective ways to make this communication connection is to choose a digital water cooler environment that can be used for informal conversations, such as Slack or HipChat. These tools take instant communication to a new level, with the ability to swap files and archive important messages. Encourage employees to use this platform to get answers to questions about work quickly and to engage on a personal level about everything from pets to weekend plans. Urge your on-site staff to use the platform for the same reasons, so it feels like a home base for everyone. Simply seeing other employees being active on the platform and at work at the same time will help your remote team feel connected.
Highlight Their Value
It’s not always easy for remote workers to see the value they bring to the company or the role they have in the company’s direction. Be proactive about involving remote staff in important projects and detailing their place in the broader project structure. Remote staff will be more connected with the team when they know where they belong in it and that their contributions are important.
You can also highlight the value of your remote team by investing in their futures. Provide continuing education and new training opportunities so that they can hone their skills. By giving your employees these opportunities, no matter where they are located, you will send the message that you see them as part of your company’s future.
Make Meetings Matter
Time differences and flex scheduling can make meetings that involve remote staff and on-site employees a challenge to arrange, but it’s a good idea to host a few meetings annually in which everyone is involved. Use video chats, GoToMeeting, or even conference calls to let everyone come together in one virtual place. Reserve these meetings for major announcements or to review company policy, and encourage people to share their questions. Putting faces and voices to names on emails instantly makes people feel more connected.
If your company has the budget, hosting an annual, face-to-face meeting will benefit your entire team. The remote staff gets to see what is happening on a day-to-day basis at your headquarters, and your entire staff gets a chance to develop a bond that will make their collaborations more productive.
Put Outcomes Before Working Hours
Remote workers are often working from home because they want or need flexibility in their schedules. Managing how they spend their hours is futile for companies. Time differences make having a set schedule challenging, and because remote workers are in a different environment, the amount of time they may need to spend on parts of their jobs may not mirror what happens in the office.
Instead of focusing on setting hours for remote workers, set work outcome requirements and deadlines. Approaching work in this way shows remote employees that you’re invested in their success and that you acknowledge the differences in the way they work versus how work is performed in the office.
Create Perks That Go the Distance
Most companies provide on-site staff with little perks here and there to boost morale and show appreciation for hard work. Remote staff doesn’t get the chance to experience these small gestures in person, so they miss out on the goodwill that they can breed. Prevent this issue by periodically treating your remote staff to a few perks they can enjoy from a distance.
Your remote team doesn’t get to make use of the company’s coffee pot, so send out a $5 Starbucks card so they can get some coffee for work. In lieu of a team lunch, send an Amazon gift card. These small tokens help to replicate the experience of being an on-site employee for your remote staff, so they know they are part of the team.
At Pennington Creative, we know your business doesn’t have any borders, so we can work with you from anywhere to create quality, custom content that brings your products and services to a new market. You’re just a few steps away from perfecting your brand with a new digital marketing strategy designed specifically for your company’s needs. Visit our website to explore our content creation services and to contact us to build a customized plan for your business.