By Jeff Rebh
Depending on the scope of your company, your spending abilities and the number of team members, different plans may work better for you than others. The main thing is humanizing your group members. They’re more than just a name on an email list. They’re real people, with real jobs, real lives and real feelings. Work is more enjoyable when you get along with your coworkers. Just because they’re behind a computer screen, doesn’t mean you should dismiss getting to know them.
Here are some ways you can connect remote team members.
Tools like Basecamp or Slack are great for internal communication. You can make internal communication as personalized as you want. By incorporating profile photos into those channels, it humanizes your remote employees even if they’ve never met in real life. The big thing with this is implementation. If your team members aren’t using it or don’t take the time to learn how to use it, it’s pointless. It’s only effective if it is a primary application they use every day.
This is great for sharing articles, jokes, things on your mind, etc. This is a little more laid back, but obviously shouldn’t be home to anything inappropriate. It’s important to have fun, but it’s also important to remain professional.
Tools like Skype and Sqwiggle are great for remote teams because it associates a face with a name. They get to hear their coworkers’ voices, see their facial expressions and interact with them in ways that can’t be conveyed through text.
A great way to connect team members is by pairing them up for a weekly/monthly chat. They can be paired with the same person every time in a similar field as them (or a different field), that way they can go over their recent successes, where they struggled and why, and ways they can do better. This option breeds collaboration which can lead to future business successes.
This isn’t always a feasible option, but if you have the time, resources and money, team retreats are a great option. This will bond your team members together even more.
This goes hand in hand with retreats, but try to fly your remote employees to your HQ every year. Schedule team building activities and company events during this time and introduce them to employees there. This will make them feel like they are an important part of the company and that you value their work.
This point is more about connecting your remote team members with their surroundings, rather than their coworkers. Nonetheless, it is a very important part of making them feel like they are important to the company. No matter where they are located, find ways for your employees to get involved locally. Even though they aren’t in a face-to-face type work community, they can be involved in their local community. This can take many forms, whether it’s through volunteering, local event sponsorships, etc.