Team building is hard work. When your team is spread across different geographic locations, it’s challenging to keep them integrated; you are likely to fail without a solid plan. However, do not worry! Managing remote employees is a task all managers and entrepreneurs can learn. Most important of all, it’s a type of skill that will offer your company a significant advantage over your competitors.
Some things you learn by experience. When I was managing an offshore team, I had too much on my plate. I thought getting a great deal on WOW service would be enough as it offered a reliable Internet connection for my office. What I realized was that WOW Internet availability was not a problem. Managing a remote team was. But through trial and error, I was able to create a process to manage the team and make my remote employees connected. Let me share some valuable tips….
Ways to Make Your Remote Employees Feel Included
1: Pair Them Up
Even if they are located remotely, there’s no harm in pairing up your employees. This is practiced very frequently in software companies. When developers work in pairs, they are able to create better code, make fewer mistakes and they are able to finish the project faster.
When people pair up, they communicate, share problems and come up with solutions. As a result, team alignment improves and the flow of information becomes smooth. You might have to first instill the culture of pairing to make this work.
2: Provide a Shared Purpose
Aligning the goals of each team member through a common purpose is essential for team building. The same practices are important when you are working with remote colleagues.
Being a manager, you must create a system to ensure all your remote employees feel included. It is also important to recognize the contribution of each person to the purpose of the organization itself. It’s a key ingredient to team building.
3: There Is No Such Thing as Over Communication
Regular communication will keep your entire team tied together. When your team is located offshore, there is no such thing as over-communication. You need to know what’s going on at the remote employees’ end. Use a single channel of communication for this purpose. For messaging use Slack and for video conference, use Perch.
4: Celebrate Great Work
Who doesn’t want their hard work to be valued? 79 percent of the individuals reported that recognition makes them work even harder to impress their bosses. Often, the work of remote employees goes underappreciated and unrecognized.
Don’t forget to acknowledge their performance and let them know how much you value them. To make them feel a part of your team, let them know they matter. It’s not difficult to foster a culture of appreciation.
Those who feel appreciated are likely to appreciate others as well. Feel free to publically celebrate the efforts of your employees. Once the company leaders plant the seed of appreciation, it will grow within the organization very quickly.
5: Make Time for Small Talk
You don’t always have to be there in person to make small talk. You can also do that on chat or while you are video conferencing with your remote employees. It’s important to build rapport with every member of the team. It will help you work through problems. Keep in mind report does not come from talking about work. It comes from getting to know a person.
Ask for an introduction, learn about their family and where they are from. This will create ease and level of comfort between you and your team members. They are more likely to open up to you this way.
6: Use Emojis and Gifs to Convey Emotions
Don’t make the conversations formal by writing formal text. Use nonverbal cues of communication. Plain words can come across aggressive at times. To add humor or any other emotion, use gifs and emojis.
Next time you send an email saying “good job”, include emoticons and this will be acknowledged by your team members better.
7: Get Together at least Once a Year
A very useful way of making your employees a part of a team is to get them together face to face. Be prepared for receiving reactions such as wow, you look different than you do on video. This would come a long way in building rapport. If you cannot arrange meet-ups every 2 months, at least have them once a year.
8: Brainstorm Digitally
It is high time to shift your brainstorming sessions digitally. It is hard for remote employees to share ideas with their team members. By using certain tools, this can be made easier. The mural is very useful for visual collaboration. It can be used on any device anytime.
Tools like these will improve the quality of brainstorming sessions too. Apart from tools, you need to have a reliable Internet connection while these sessions are being conducted. I am glad I had WOW. Whenever we had an issue, I just had to reach out to WOW customer support and they would fix it immediately.
Implementing these tips will be an investment in your team. Eventually, it will help them and your business thrive.