How to help remote employees to feel part of the team
With technology advances and changing attitudes about where and how work can be done, remote work has become commonplace in many organizations. These arrangements can help companies and their employees be more productive while giving professionals the opportunity to achieve a better work-life balance.
However, there is a potential disadvantage of this HR strategy that employers should be aware of: External employees can sometimes feel isolated from their colleagues in the office.
If this feeling persists, there’s a great chance your remote employees will become less productive over time – and possibly even leave the company. According to a study by Robert Half and Happiness Works based in London, positive relationships with the workplace have a major impact on whether employees are busy in the workplace and are happy in their job.
Here are some things you can do as a manager to make the employees in the distance feel more connected to the company and their colleagues. These ideas are easy to implement and can bring benefits to all employees, no matter where they are:
Use tools that everyone can work with better together
The corporate culture has a lot to do with whether an employee feels connected to his or her workplace. And good communication is an integral part of a strong corporate culture. Fortunately, we live in a time when there is a plethora of simple and cost-effective tools that people can work with and stay connected anytime, anywhere. (Skype, Google Hangouts, Basecamp, HipChat, Slack, and Bitrix24 are just a few examples of commonly used tools for this purpose.)
A quick Internet search can help you find the right technology solutions for your employees. However, make sure that employees are first asked for their input. It will be difficult to improve team communication if few or none of your employees want to use the resources that management has selected for them.
Create ways to talk in a pause style
Even if external employees are in constant contact with their teammates in the office via email, text, phone, and collaboration tools, they may not have much opportunity to talk in person. You know, the kind of relaxed, organic work-place talk where people talk about their weekend plans, talk about their favourite TV shows, or how their kid scored a playful goal in Peewee football. These conversations help build fellowship among colleagues, which means members of the remote team miss much more than a relaxed conversation with colleagues.
If possible, you should allow yourself a few minutes before or after group sessions so that your employees can share personal updates if they so wish. (If you have more time for a “more humane” conversation in the workplace, you can also improve communication with your employees.) Videoconferencing is, of course, ideal for this type of information exchange, as it is a way for everyone to have a personal conversation virtually – but conference calls can work too. You could even go one step further by having a short team meeting – eg. For example, every other Friday – just set up for the purpose of catching up like a virtual coffee break.
Invite remote employees to participate in job rotation and mentoring programs
Financial leaders polled in a recent survey by Robert Half Management Resources said job rotation has many benefits for businesses and workers. Top examples include professional development, stronger succession planning and improved attitude and retention.
However, setting up a job rotation program for your workplace can easily overlook remote workers. This can prevent remote team members and internal employees from gaining valuable experience. The same applies to mentoring. Remote workers can certainly benefit from these arrangements – both as mentors and as mentees. So be sure to invite them to join.
Do not forget to explain how everyone makes a difference
Another survey by our company found that more than half of professionals (53 per cent) want more information about how their daily tasks can make a difference in their organization. This means that you have a good chance of helping your employees understand how their contributions fit into the overall picture of your company.
Staff meetings, performance reviews, and regular check-ins provide executives with the ability to communicate this information. However, you may need to make additional efforts with your remote teams, as they may not always be able to see the impact of their work on the business.
Involve remote employees in external teams and other special events
It does not matter if it is an official event, eg, For example, a company-wide meeting or a more casual activity such as a prize-giving competition, make sure that employees are invited to attend from a distance. If logistics prevent them from being present in person, try to involve them virtually. Or take photos during the event and share them on the company’s intranet or social media page so employees can be seen from outside as well.
So be careful to make sure team members who work outside of the office – and possibly in locations that are not close to headquarters – do not get important information first-hand or join a group of fun.
Emphasize the message of teamwork
As a manager, you can only do so much that all your employees feel more connected to their jobs, to their colleagues and to the organization. However, you can make a lot of progress by integrating the message of teamwork into the corporate culture.
Teach the importance of working together to make the business a success, and highlight the achievements of the people who excel at it. When teamwork is proud of your company and actively promoted and celebrated, there is less likelihood that employees in your organization will feel isolated.