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How to ensure remote employees feel part of the team

Best practices to help you build and support a distributed team.

Too often remote employees feel the phrase ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is applicable to them. They feel left out, not a true part of the team, and therefore missing out on elements that bond the team together. At the same time team building is challenging enough for leaders without adding in the element of physical distance. Here’s how leaders can help change things around and make their remote employees feel more included.

1. Ensure annual visits to the HQ
There’s no substitute for actual face time, so plan to fly your remote employees down to the HQ at least once a year. Make the most of the time by discussing business goals and change in strategies; provide performance feedback, schedule brainstorming sessions and some team building exercises as well. This could also be the time set aside for the company offsite as all employees will be together. However, your interaction with your remote employees shouldn’t just end there. Make it a point to visit remove offices and spend quality time with your team there. Don’t make it appear like an inspection, but rather an opportunity to keep abreast of what’s happening there and cultivate better employee engagement.

2. Pick up the phone
Rather than dashing off an email take the time to pick up the phone and get your remote workers engaged. There are so many technologies available that help you reach out and regularly connect with your employees. Use video conferencing platforms to do regular check-ins. You will communicate a lot more than what you would have on email, it builds rapport, and helps your team get to know you better. It also shows that you value your interactions with them, making them feel valued and boosting their morale.

3. Recognise their contributions
In a team everyone is aligned towards a common goal, with each person playing an important part. Leaders need to regularly recognise these individual contributions that push the team towards achieving that goal. Remote workers often miss out on these regular reinforcements that occur during everyday conversations or impromptu celebrations. These pats-on-the-backs go a long way towards increasing employee satisfaction, thereby boosting motivation and engagement. As a leader you need to ensure your remote staff doesn’t miss out on this. So make it a point to recognise their contributions and make them feel included, whether it’s during the weekly meeting or a private conversation.

4. Help them understand their value
As a leader you need to connect your remote workers skills to the company’s future. Help them understand how their role and skills are driving the company forward. Also, discuss what are the skills they need to hone/develop to be relevant and a part of the company’s future. This connection to the company’s needs will make remote workers feel more secure about their role and their future in the organisation. They will be more interested in making the company’s future their future, increasing engagement, loyalty and motivation.

Photograph: mgstanton/Flickr 

Categories:   Lifestyle, Work Buzz

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