Tech Trends That Turn Remote Employees Into a Cohesive Team
Where’s your staff? Are they hunkered down at their desks or spread cross-country in coffeehouses far and wide? If it’s the latter, your remote employees are among the 13.4 million people currently telecommuting at least once a week.
If so, your team is likely happier than those stuck in cubicles. In fact, a study from Stanford University and Ctrip noted remote employees have higher psychological attitude scores than those in traditional office settings. They also have higher work satisfaction rates and are less likely to succumb to job attrition.
While this is great news as remote work becomes more commonplace, it still poses a challenge for many leaders. Few are equipped to handle remote employees.
It’s difficult to determine whether someone is on task, and it’s even harder to keep him engaged. When there’s no office to corral employees, it can be hard to track them down. That’s why it’s very important to leverage technology when you have remote employees. It brings people together in one digital space.
Communicate to Connect
Communication is often one of the biggest obstacles in developing cohesion among remote employees. Establish clear standards for correspondence. Encourage team members to connect over Slack, Perch, and Skype. Go so far as to schedule mandatory meetings each morning, but keep them short. Fifteen minutes should be more than enough time to tackle issues and share updates.
But don’t limit interactions to just business. This can leave dispersed workers without the one dynamic that only comes from an office: camaraderie. Make a point of getting personal on calls and chat platforms to create a connection.
Remotely Recognize and Reward
Everyone wants to be part of a winning team. But the realities of a scattered workforce can leave people feeling isolated, if not unappreciated for their efforts. One of the most effective ways to become more inclusive and maintain momentum is to give credit where credit is due.
Celebrate achievements companywide to boost morale and motivate your team. Invest in online employee recognition software, such as Loyaltyworks’ Total Recognition Suite or WorkStride’s Employee Recognition Program.
These tools make it easier to recognize day-to-day employee contributions and accomplishments. A quick post of congratulations strengthens bonds, and it’s engaging and fun.
Facilitate a Feedback Flow
While rewards and recognition are great, it’s also critical to give timely, specific, and productive feedback. Given ineffectively, feedback can lead to resentment, anger, and a loss of respect, not the best way to manage remote employees.
This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be candid. By all means, keep things honest, but you always walk a fine line with even the most constructive of criticisms. We’re hardwired to protect ourselves, so keep things in perspective and sort out your thoughts before the conversation.
Of course, feedback isn’t just something you give. It’s something you should be just as willing to receive. Ask remote employees for their input. Solicit feedback through questionnaires and surveys. Qualtrics offers a platform for just this purpose. So do CustomInsight and TINYpulse.
Get Real About Development
Let’s be honest: Most training is repetitive, boring, and company-centric, if not altogether irrelevant. It’s no wonder leaders shy away from making professional development a priority.
But investing in your team’s future makes it much easier for them to invest in yours. They’ll stay motivated and committed to your goals.
Look for fresh and interesting ways to challenge remote staff. Give your team a one-stop shop for learning through a platform like LearnCore, or get everyone together on interactive video chat platform Shindig for some professional development.
Arrange Some Face Time With Remote Employees
While technology is great for collaboration, sometimes, you just need to be face-to-face. Invest in your culture by bringing everyone on your team together once or twice a year, or more often if you can afford it. Use it as an opportunity to discuss company strategy and major milestones, as well as to do some training and team building.
But don’t keep the group together throughout the whole event. Carve out some time for small-group activities and games to help people get to know one another. Balance business with fun to make the event worthwhile. It may cost a pretty penny, but in-person connecting is incredibly valuable for a company.
While uncertainties will always be present, those who work remotely, and do it well, will often need less of your time and energy. They’ll be self-starters who take the initiative to reach their goals and provide you a return on your investment.