A lot of the collegiality of a workplace comes from being in the same place at the same time. Working on-site means employees can bond over chitchat during a coffee break; it also means they're able to drop by the boss's office or a colleague's desk to ask questions. When workers aren't on-site, they lose these interactions that make employees feel like they're part of a team. Here are six ways to overcome the distance and keep your remote team members engaged.
Don't bug your remote employees for status updates.
Managers ask for status updates from on-site workers, too, but it's easier to tell what's going on because you can see what's going on. Use technology to give you the same insight for your remote team, with activity trackers and team communication tools that help you know where their time and effort are going.
Keep in touch with them regularly.
Just because you aren't bugging them for status updates doesn't mean you shouldn't have routine conversations with them. Make sure you communicate on a regular basis, and be available for ad-hoc discussions as needed.
Talk about things besides work.
You take time to know your on-site employees' families and how they spent their weekend. Take the same time to get to know your remote workers. If you treat them as a person, not just a resource, they'll be much more engaged and committed to your project.
Accept that remote workers have their own schedules.
Don't expect your remote workers to adhere to your work schedule. The productivity of working off-site is enhanced when they can work on a schedule that works for them. Judge the quality of their output, not the specific hours they're at their desk.
Include them in team conversations and decisions.
It's easy to forget to include remote workers in team discussions, but if all decisions come to them without having asked their opinions first, they'll feel their opinions don't count. Also, make sure you consider your remote team equally when handing out favorite assignments and opportunities for advancement.
Have periodic face-to-face meetings.
It isn't always possible to meet remote employees in person, but you should try to have occasional face-to-face meetings. Bringing them to your office site gives them a chance to bond with the team. At the very least, include video conferencing at occasional meetings to put a face to the names and establish a basic personal connection.
The Armada Group knows working with remote employees is tough. Contact us for more tips or to search for employees who work efficiently on-site or off.