Telework — another designation for working remotely — is becoming increasingly popular. For employees, remote work is a highly attractive model: it allows them to own their work-life balance regardless of family circumstances, it avoids draining commute times and it also offers a much-desired flexibility when it comes to being able to independently manage their workload and time.
Companies can also benefit from hiring remotely: having someone work from home will significantly reduce real estate and maintenance costs (electricity, furniture, overhead, IT equipment), while increasing their employees’ motivation and productivity. Moreover, organisations can expand their talent pool, because they will have access to workers outside their region, facilitating their ability to scale the business.
When companies integrate both in-house and remote teams, sometimes it can be difficult to create an environment that can successfully bridge the physical distance between those working in the main office and those working somewhere else. Fortunately, there are a few tactics you can implement to avoid falling in the “out of sight, out of mind” trap that can help you create processes and instil behaviours that will make remote employees feel inherently a part of the team. Here are a few tips to follow:
Leverage technology to communicate
The current model of remote work was only made possible by technology: the internet, all the collaborative tools and a multitude of (affordable) communication channels. While managing remote workers, it is fundamental to encourage the use of technology to bring people together. Collaborative software like Slack, Fleep or any internal system can be excellent communication channels. You can encourage your employees to create fun online conversation starters, sharing pictures, interesting articles or kicking off weekly debates on relevant topics. Remember that communication sets the tone for each team’s unique culture, and it should be a manager’s priority to ensure their teams have the tools and the space to communicate effectively. If there is no physical water cooler for people to gather around and chat, there should be a viable alternative online.
Ensure your meetings are inclusive
When scheduling a meeting, remote participation should always be encouraged. There are many free tools like Skype, appear.in, or Google Hangouts that can be used to bring everyone together, while also including the ability to share documents and screens. You should schedule your meetings at a convenient time for all the participants. If you have people on very distant parts of the world, meeting times should rotate to ensure there is no privileged time-zone. Rotating the ownership of the meeting is also a good idea. While hosting a meeting that is being held over video call, remember to make an effort to speak clearly, pause and solicit your remote participants’ input as much as the input from the people in the room.
Take advantage of online training
Offering a fully branded, high quality training experience to all your employees — regardless of location — is a great way to ensure their onboarding happens smoothly and their ongoing training and development is consistent and part of a shared experience. Here are some tips to choose the right online training platform.
Encourage remote workers
Distant workers might need a stronger nudge when it comes to accepting a project with a tight deadline or sharing their thoughts in a large video-conference meeting. It is important to guarantee that remote workers are encouraged to take risks and participate in every opportunity they might have access to. It is also recommended to publicly praise remote workers when they deserve it. A simple shout-out will make your remote employees feel appreciated. Lastly, do not underestimate the gesture of sending actual mail to your remote workers — including company swag, birthday presents and thank you notes. The thoughtfulness of receiving a gift in the mail is still hard to beat.
Organize in-person gatherings when possible
Holding company-wide gatherings is the best way to give your teams the space and time they need to bond, and we recommend evaluating the possibility of bringing everyone together in the same space at least once a year. Most companies try to have a “togetherness week” once a quarter.
In summary, if you want to foster a culture in which all of your staff talks to one another and builds ideas off each other, creatively pursuing solutions to your business problems, you have to foster a sense of trust and inclusion. We recommend actively monitoring your actions and double-checking if you’ve left anyone out. If you always keep inclusion in mind and make it a real objective, location will naturally cease to be an issue.
You may also find interesting:
12 Tips to be more agile at getting things done (article)
12 Tips to choose the right training platform (article)
Is it time to get an online video training tool (checklist)
Why online video training is the smart choice for your company (article)
Would you like to learn more about how bugle can help with onboarding and training your team?