Remote employment is a tantalizing option. The freedom to create your own schedule means you have the ability to meet quotas at your own pace and leisure. Believe it or not, creating your own schedule makes it harder for you to take meaningful breaks which allow you to recharge.
Lack of interaction with coworkers is a great contributor to this problem. You’re safely tucked away in your home office, you’ve created a distraction-free oasis, and most of your app notifications are muted. You realize quickly, however, that this is actually doing more harm than good because it seems that a project you are working on with your colleagues isn’t making progress at all.
This is a typical scenario that many remote teams have to deal with – there’s no proper communication in place that would help them achieve the level of collaboration possible in traditional offices. Still, there are solutions available – by providing your remote employees with the right communication outlets will not only improve team collaboration but employee morale as well.
Having a powerful communication strategy in place is key to keeping your remote employees engaged. On the work front, this strategy needs to include interactive conference calls. During meetings, remember to seek input from your employees – they do the work, they know the issues, and often times, great solutions too. Let them discuss those solutions between each other, and encourage them to find the best possible outcome together.
They should be made aware that they are a significant part of the brainstorming session and will help keep interaction flowing.
Integrating the right technology makes or breaks a remote employee’s ability to interact with others. While the adage, “a poor workman blames his tools,” is very true, there is a line that companies cannot cross if they want to keep their remote workforce happy.
Excellent remote workers cannot reach their full potential if they work with subpar tools. Investing in new tech solutions like AI, automation programs, data sharing options and communication solutions – especially for your remote team – is essential for keeping high motivation and productivity and the momentum flowing.
Image by rawpixel.com
Forcing an employee to work on outdated platforms, only use email or phone for communication, or use free versions of software is no way to produce quality work. Instead, give them the ability to collaborate in real time, and marvel at how much faster they can get the job done.
Team building for remote employees sounds impossible, but one way to do this is by creating non-work—related team goals. For example, some offices engage their entire workforce in things like weight loss or running/cycling distance competitions through the use of a workout app.
Image by rawpixel.com
The way it works is simple. Employees can be divided into several teams—whatever number is necessary for your workforce. Employees get on a closed chat group with their team and they devise the best strategy for them to beat out the other team this week. This can be done through healthy diets (no crash diets) and exercise programs. Workouts can be completed on an individual basis or through video chats for a more collaborative experience.
Still, when you think of team building, the first thing that comes to mind is going on a trip somewhere. You should at least try to make this happen once a year for all your remote employees because that face-to-face interaction will make the strongest bonds and improve collaboration between team members the best.
The beauty of building a true team spirit in the office comes in the convenience aspect. Employees can bump into each other on a daily basis which makes cracking jokes and discussing non-work-related topics much more natural. The Digital Water Cooler is a concept that helps mimick those interactions.
Remote employees need a chance for social interaction with their fellow employees. Creating an online social hub for employees to discuss non-work-related items is crucial. These can be groups dedicated to certain TV shows, hobbies, or other interests. The beauty of these groups is they allow a rapport to develop naturally.
The most important thing to remember in developing employee collaboration is that it must feel natural. The only thing you as an employer can do is create an environment that supports collaboration: invest in the right tools, software and nurture the right mindset for it. As an employer, it is your duty to provide as many opportunities as possible and watch your employees grow and bond together.