Managing a team of remote workers can be tricky, especially when it comes to communicating and building rapport. Without careful attention, remote workers can easily start to feel that they're "out of sight, out of mind." So how do you help your distributed team members feel valued, keep them engaged, and even have fun working together?
Here are 5 ways to show your remote team some love:
1. Engage With Them
Just because you're not all in the same location, doesn't mean you can't enjoy team bonding activities. Try some fun activities for remote employees, send each other packages of goodies from your local area, and find ways to liven up conference calls and get to know each other. Use this list of team bonding activities for remote teams (scroll to the bottom of the article) for more ideas.
2. Include Them in Office Celebrations
Include remote teammates in regular office activities like holiday parties, big announcements, and special celebrations. Live video streams, invites to participate in Secret Santa gift exchanges, ugly sweater or costume contests, online karaoke parties — the possibilities are endless.
3. Chat About Life Outside of Work
Provide an informal place like Skype or Google Hangouts for the team to chat and get to know each other (and you)! Even though you may not meet face-to-face more than once or twice a year, you're still colleagues. Talk about the same stuff you discuss with your co-located peers in the hallways or kitchen: vacations, families, sports, pop culture, the works. That camaraderie and familiarity will be a huge benefit when it comes time for your team to collaborate, brainstorm, and creatively solve problems.
4. Don't Micromanage!
When you can't physically see your team at their desks, typing away or making phone calls, it can be tempting to start micromanaging or checking in needlessly just to reassure yourself that things are getting done. Instead, set a regular schedule for how often you'll check in with your team, both as a group and one-on-one, and then stick to it. Focus on results and show your team that just because they're working remotely, doesn't mean they're being treated any differently than your local employees. Setting clear expectations and building trust can go a long way when it comes to keeping your employees happy, engaged, and motivated.
5. Send Them Company Swag
As Jason Evanish points out, it'll help them feel like part of the team, boost morale, and reinforce the fact that they're valued just as highly as their colleagues who work from the office.
More Tips for Managing a Remote Team
As part of a global team ourselves, we at Wrike have learned from experience how to avoid the common pitfalls of remote work and discovered strategies for effective collaboration. Download our free eBook for simple techniques that will keep your team productive, no matter how many time zones separate you.