Are you concerned that your remote team members feel disconnected? Here’s how you can fix that.
Here's what you need to know:
- Help new hires feel they're included by having an effective onboarding process
- Set clear expectations on job duties, communication, and available hours
- Schedule regular video team meetings
- Make time to publicly and individually recognize team members
- Demonstrate trust and let employees do their jobs
- Help your team learn from failures and mistakes
- Allow your team time for life’s interruptions
Remote work started to become more prevalent with the inception of the dot com boom at the turn of the century, but many thought it would be a passing fad. The past few years have proven that to be anything but true.
Remote work is here to stay. Employees appreciate the convenience it gives them and the additional time they have gained for work-life balance by eliminating their daily commute.
You may be thinking that’s all fine and well, but how do you make sure everyone has the feeling they are part of a team when they’re all in a different location? We’ve got your solutions! Keep reading to see 7 different ways you can ensure your team members who are working remotely feel engaged and part of the team.
How can we be a team if we’re always in different locations?
As the globe has opened up to broader travel and work opportunities, so has the geographic disbursement of our teams. What used to be a tight-knit group in the same office is now spread out all over the:
Calling impromptu team meetings for quick brainstorming sessions used to be a matter of spontaneity. Now, scheduling through multiple time zones is often involved. Does it make you wonder how you can possibly keep everyone connected in this new environment?
We’ve got your back!
Geography doesn’t define your team – working toward the same goals and outcomes does. In fact, Webster’s simply defines a team as “A group of people who work together.”
So let’s get going on our list.
7 ways to ensure your remote team members feel valued
Of course, you can do a myriad of things to assure your team members that they’re valuable to you. However, we’re going to focus on some big-bucket items that sometimes get lost in the craziness of day-to-day work life.
Start strong and have an effective onboarding process
When you bring a new employee onto your team, one way you can be sure that they feel they are genuinely part of your team is to include an effective onboarding process. Frequently, onboarding gets limited to required federal and state payroll forms.
An effective onboarding program often involves video presentations and includes:
- The company’s vision, values, and mission
- Information about the systems that are used by the company, how to access them, and how to effectively use them
- Training about company policies
- Information about the company’s target client base and why they’re important
If holistic onboarding is a new concept for you, check out this Zenefits eBook, The Definitive Guide to Employee Onboarding.
Set clear expectations
You remove any opportunity for misunderstandings when you provide clear expectations of the employee’s:
- Job duties. Of course, there are always unique processes that aren’t included in the average job description but be sure the employee is doing the job you hired them to do and the job they believed they signed on for.
- Communication frequency and process. For instance, do you prefer that employees reach out to you with updates and/or questions via phone, email, chat, or another method? Do you have expectations about how long it will take an employee to respond to you? To a client? If you are clear about this, you will set both your employee and yourself up for success.
- Hours of availability. If you tell an employee that you don’t care when they work as long as they get the job done and then get frustrated when they’re not at their desk when you want to reach them, you may have an expectation you weren’t aware of.
Set regular times for everyone to communicate — on screen
Speaking of communication, creating a team environment requires the entire team touching base. And getting to see one another. One way to do this effectively is to schedule regular video team meetings.
These meetings not only offer time to share business dealings and expectations, but they also give everyone a chance to have time to catch up and get to know one another better. Putting a face with a voice or a name is invaluable when building relationships.
This is particularly valuable for the extroverts on the team who may be feeling particularly isolated by their remote work environment. It also gives the team introverts a chance to observe how other team members function.
Show your team members appreciation for their valuable contributions
There are times when public recognition is helpful. Some examples include:
- Work anniversaries
- Customer appreciation
- Outstanding contributions
- Volunteer excellence
That said, there are also times when sincere, one-on-one recognition is priceless.
Let your employees do their jobs. Avoid the temptation to hover or check-in frequently. Set an expectation of:
- When you want to receive updates
- That you’re available for any questions, troubleshooting, or needed clarifications
- When a project is due
Then trust that you’ve made an excellent hire and let your staff do their jobs.
Help each other learn from failures and mistakes
As much as we wish we were, none of us is perfect. Things go wrong. Even when there are the best of intentions and communication processes.
When this happens, have a private conversation with the employee about what:
- Can be learned from the issue
- Could have been done differently to prevent the issue
- The employee will do differently should the problem arise again
If there’s value in the learning for the entire team, let the employee know that you would like the whole team to have a chance to learn from this experience. Be sure the employee knows that you support him and that the new approach you two just developed will benefit everyone. This lets the employee own part of the solution and, therefore, is part of the win for the entire team.
Be flexible and respectful
There are times when things come up … doctor’s appointments, family illnesses, vehicle repair needs, etc. As long as your processes aren’t being abused, be flexible about allowing your team time for life’s interruptions. Feeling supported by one’s boss goes a long way toward loyalty and company longevity.
It’s also important to remember that although you may decide to work into the night, your employees should not be expected to drop everything and take a call outside of their general work hours. Respecting their home time apart from their work time is significant. When their work location is also their home location, that can become a challenge for you if you let it.
Today’s remote work environment creates unique challenges for some. Still, it is also full of great opportunities for the entire team structure. When you take the time to make your team members feel valued, it will undoubtedly come back to you full circle, and you’ll get more back from your team than you ever thought you gave.
If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, consider: