A major benefit of remote teams is the ability to hire the most talented people, regardless of location. Once you've assembled your A-team, the last thing you want is to lose them because they're isolated and disengaged from their colleagues. Distance doesn't have to be a barrier, especially given the tools and technologies available to facilitate communication and connectivity. Keep your remote workers engaged, productive, and happy with these six practical tips.
1. Support Professional Growth
Understand what excites and motivates your remote team members by getting to know them on a personal level, beyond project expectations and due dates. Just as you do with on-site team members, check in with your remote workers to discover their goals, and help them learn new skills to advance their careers. Budget funds for tuition reimbursement, conference attendance, and certifications, so they're incentivized to expand their skills.
2. Create Connections Between Teammates
As manager, you likely have regular calls scheduled with your remote team members to touch base, answer questions, and provide support. In addition, regular communication should be happening between the whole team, about both work and fun. Video hangouts, instant message chats, and other real-time communication channels provide important outlets for fun and friendship, not to mention collaboration. Connect colleagues who share hobbies or common interests, and partner someone who's new to a task or project with an experienced co-worker.
3. Prioritize Face Time & Prevent Isolation
Even if your remote workers are connected to the rest of your team through instant messaging or video chat, they may still feel isolated. Combat loneliness and burnout by building a yearly, in-person company event into your annual budget, or provide some funds for remote employees to join a co-working space in their local area. Exposure to new people and ideas is still a key ingredient for creativity, and there's no substitute for face-to-face interaction.
4. Keep Work Fun
To bridge the gap between annual in-person events, plan virtual events to build camaraderie among your team. For example, during March Madness, the Olympic Games, or the World Cup, schedule a 30-minute break to hop on a video call and watch or stream the event together. Other ideas here: Ultimate Guide to Team-Building Activities That Don't Suck
5. Recognize Accomplishments
Remote workers may feel like many of their contributions go unnoticed, and local employees may wonder "what they do all day" if they aren't directly impacted by their colleague's work. Make it a point to highlight remote workers' achievements for the rest of the team. Start meetings by recognizing important projects or successful results for all members of your team, particularly if they're remote.
6. Support a Healthy Work-Life Balance
When your home and office is the same place, it can be tough to avoid workaholic patterns or effectively "switch off" from work mode. Encourage flexible schedules and designated time off: pay attention to how often your remote employees request vacation time, gently remind them of the PTO they've accrued, and make sure they know they're encouraged to take it.
More Tips for Keeping Remote Team Members Engaged
Boosting remote team morale doesn't need to be complicated or expensive. Try out these easy ways to have fun with your virtual team: 5 Ways to Show Your Remote Workers Some Love.