How to Make your Remote Workers Feel Like a Part of The Team
The outbreak of Covid-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. To prevent the acceleration of the infection, many countries have already closed their borders, declared travel bans, closed schools, and banned large gatherings. As the virus has been spreading worryingly fast, more and more companies are allowing remote workers in order to continue working. These new policies and encouraging employees to work from the comfort of their homes may continue on well after the virus.
As many companies and employees will soon understand the benefits of remote working, Covid-19 might shift working patterns for good. For employees, remote working provides more flexibility. They can now manage their time and tasks efficiently and finally balance their personal and professional life. Employers can benefit from remote working, as well. It will improve workplace performance, increase employee satisfaction, and retain them in the long-run.
However, there are many challenges for businesses adopting work-from-home policies. One of them is increasing the collaboration between remote and in-house employees and making everyone feel like they are a part of a team.
Here are a few simple tactics to implement.
Use Collaboration Software
Cloud-based collaboration software is the backbone of any company investing in remote working policies. These tools let you automate many tedious aspects of project management, boost project completion, and improve collaboration among your teams. By centralizing your project, team members, files, and assignments, you will help employees communicate in real-time and assign tasks faster.
The primary benefit of project management tools like Trello, Asana, or Basecamp lies in the fact that they are extremely easy to use since they are mostly based on drag-and-drop features. They include interactive and easily customizable dashboards, project timelines, calendar views of each member’s tasks, progress bars, and so forth. This way, everyone in the team can stay on top of the projects’ progress, irrespective of location.
Another great benefit of these tools lies in the fact that your employees will stop receiving a bunch of notifications about the projects and tasks irrelevant to them. Project management tools let project managers create countless projects, add new responsibilities, and assign them the right employees. This way, employees will be more productive. Their communication will be more fruitful, as they will receive only those notifications relevant to them.
Slack is also a fantastic tool to use when strengthening employees’ collaboration and boosting relationships among them. Employees can create multiple threads when working on tasks, as well as have fun chatting in real-time.
Schedule Video Meetups
With the rise of video conferencing tools like Skype for Business, Cisco WebEx, or Join.me facilitates remote working practices a lot. Namely, instead of hosting in-house meetings, you can now schedule them virtually. Apart from improving employees’ attendance, this practice will also help you minimize travel costs and help people share ideas and build stronger relationships, no matter where they are.
Many companies are taking video meetups to the next level. For example, GitLab uses video conferencing to replicate the everyday office culture and build stronger bonds among employees. It inspires their remote workers to take virtual coffee breaks to relax and chat with one another via video calls. This way, remote employees start building and nurturing stronger relationships, building a holistic atmosphere.
Set Aside Time for Team Building
If your remote employees are located in the same or nearby city, it would be easier to plan team building activities. For example, you could throw an office party or plan a monthly luncheon that will bring your employees together and encourage them to talk and have fun.
If you are hiring employees from all over the world, you could consider hosting video conferences to engage your workers and create unity. Help Scout takes this practice to a whole new level with their Troop Talks. Namely, they choose a conversation theme for their employees, set a date, and give people time to think about what they want to say. Everything is planned to run smoothly, allowing everyone to speak up and share their thoughts and experiences. This practice will make your remote employees seen and heard and help them build closer relationships with other staff members.
Provide them with the Right Tools
Employees working from homes should have access to the same documents and tools as ones working from your offices. The choice of tools depends on your industry. Always pick the ones that are available to everyone.
For starters, why not provide your remote workers with company cell phones? For your employees, this means more accessible communication with both clients and colleagues and an opportunity to get their jobs done faster. This may benefit your business, as well. Namely, reimbursing remote workers for using their phones for business would cover the cost of their individual phone plans. When establishing a business account and switching employees’ business lines to a single provider, you will be able to choose mobile phone plans that suit your budget. By providing remote employees with company cell phones, you will ensure they are available 24/7 and boost their collaboration with the rest of the team.
Prioritize Company Culture
Your company’s culture is your DNA. It defines your company and gives it a purpose, mission, and value. Above all, it defines company interactions and your recruiting efforts. Precisely because of that, you need to build a recognizable employer brand that will help you find and hire the candidates that share your values and feel your company culture. This way, you will be able to attract the right candidates and establish a solid foundation for better employee collaboration and inclusiveness, regardless of where your employees are.
One of the best ways to boost your company culture is to establish fun company traditions. For example, if you are having a pizza or cake party in the office on your in-house employees’ birthday, why not keep up with this company’s tradition online? For example, instead of throwing an actual party, you could make a video, where each employee would wish a happy birthday to their remote colleague. Or, you could even consider delivering flowers, pizza, or cake to their address.
Prove you Appreciate Them
To keep your employees satisfied and retain them, you first need to show that you appreciate their efforts. For starters, host regular meetings, either in-person or virtual, inform remote workers about the significant company changes and ask them for opinions. It is easy to overlook the people you don’t see or hear from every day. Schedule regular check-ins with remote employees to learn what they are working on and how satisfied they are.
You should also celebrate your staff members and show them how much you appreciate them. It may be true that remote workers have greater autonomy when it comes to planning and organizing tasks, but you should show them that their effort matters to your company. Recognize their accomplishments and make them feel proud of them. No matter if it is a personalized email, a voucher from their favorite bookstore, or building an Employee of the Month program, employee recognition programs boost their morale and encourage them to stay loyal to you.
Remote work does not need to be followed by isolation and the lack of career advancement. Unfortunately, today’s life in the era of Coronavirus backs me up on that. It is up to you to make your employees feel engaged, no matter if they work in-house or from home.
Be its collaboration software, video conferencing systems, or company phones; you need to give your employees the tools they need to complete their tasks efficiently and ensure smoother communication among them.
Above all, make them feel included, ask them for opinions, and reward their accomplishments regularly.
What tactics do you use to engage and retain remote employees?