July 22, 2019
How to Stay Close When Colleagues Work Remotely
Whether it’s across town or across the country, companies that have a remote workforce face special challenges in forming tight bonds with employees they rarely lay eyes on.
And while building cohesion and finding ways to encourage employees to bond is crucial for all companies, it’s even more important when face-to-face interactions with some employees are infrequent.
Managers and team leaders play an influential role in helping remote workers feel connected to the rest of their team and colleagues across the company.
Here are 7 ways to stay tight with colleagues who work remotely:
- Loop Them In. Be sure to copy remote workers on important information or happenings at the office that they might not pick up because they aren’t physically present. That includes major business decisions, product development updates, staff changes, events and other happenings that you would want to hear about.
- Call Frequently. When an email gets longer than about three paragraphs, pick up a phone and turn it into a phone call instead. These live interactions allow for follow up questions, clarifications and the casual personal small talk about life outside of work such as kids, pets, sports and other things that help us bond.
- Group Video Conferences. These are especially effective for small teams that work closely together and need to have an “all hands on deck” catchup call every few days. They work best with 6 or fewer people to minimize overlapping conversations. Encourage every participant to share thoughts and carry the conversation at some point, and encourage a few minutes of small talk about social things at the start of the call.
- Use Collaboration Software. Programs like Slack, Monday, Podio and others help teams manage workflow and share information and files through group chats and one-on-one instant messages. Be mindful of runaway threads that can become a time suck and distraction (ahem: Game of Thrones), and choose a notification setting that won’t constantly yank you back into work mode during the evenings and on weekends.
- Encourage Social Butterflies. Most teams have social butterflies who always have the latest news about what’s going on. Encourage those employees to keep in touch with remote colleagues to share information and insights outside of more formal channels like email and company announcements.
- Recognize Their Work. Remote workers might miss out on the daily feedback, praise and encouragement that the rest of your team gets on the regular, so make an extra effort to recognize their work to bosses — and let the employee see that you are doing so.
- Find Ways to Meet In Person. Get creative about finding ways to get some face time together at least once a year. That could mean attending a conference together, visiting a customer together or making plans to have a one-on-one dinner during a larger company gathering.
Savvy managers who put extra effort into forming tight bonds with remote employees and making sure they feel part of the team helps strengthen company culture.
It also creates a happier, more cohesive workforce that is more productive and better at collaborating and tackling challenges. If you’d like to learn more about building a strong virtual culture, this book by Brian Miles is terrific.
Find out how we can help your company build a stronger culture by contacting us here.