The population of remote workers is growing rapidly. A Gallup poll showed that 43 percent of employees worked remotely at least part of the time. It’s extremely convenient to work from the comfort of your own home without a traffic-laden commute.
However, many leaders of remote teams struggle with collaboration. It’s a difficult task to get everyone on the same page when they have unique work schedules and needs. Here are some tips to help you out.
Remote work wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for technology. Most remote workers can connect with their company with just an internet connection and a laptop or mobile device. Managers of remote teams should investigate the many tech tools available to help their teams stay on the right track. Here are some suggestions:
Voice Collaboration: When you have meetings with your remote employees, it’s best if you have software designed to help you collaborate via voice connection. Look for a tool that integrates Skype for business phones so that your employees can call in no matter where they’re meeting.
Project Management Software: One of the best ways to stay on top of employees and their tasks is to use project management software. It puts everyone on the same page so that you can avoid overdue tasks and track employee time.
Email Newsletter: Using digital emailing software, you can create custom newsletters to keep your employees in the loop. Include information about exciting company news, employee spotlights, the company mission statement, and other details that can keep everyone in the loop to make them feel like a bigger part of a team.
Get to Know Each Other
Remote employees often struggle because they don’t feel like they’re part of a team. When you don’t see your co-workers every day, it can feel like you work in isolation. It’s hard to create a strong company culture when you don’t know your employees well at all.
“In addition to regular project updates, have scheduled one-to-one meetings and performance development discussions,” says Cord Himelstein in a Forbes article. “Communicate via video and keep remote employees updated on corporate and in-office news. Create time for informal conversation, much like you would have around the conference table at the end of a meeting or in the hallway during a coffee run.”
You might also try in-person meetings when possible. A company retreat to bring everyone from all walks of life together for a weekend can forge new bonds and improve employee retention.
Be a More Proactive Manager
Sometimes, better collaboration starts with the person in charge. As a manager of a remote team, you have a responsibility to keep everyone on track. A managerial lapse, even a small one, can create problems for your employees and your goals.
Proactive managers of remote employees should:
Know Your Team Members: Meet individually with each employee (either by email, phone, or video chat) and learn more about them. You’ll learn when they work best, how much work they can handle, their likes and dislikes, and other useful information that can help you stay connected.
Check in: About 46 percent of remote workers said that having a manager who checked in frequently helped them stay productive and motivated. Some great managers send a weekly “water cooler” email to their team where they check in to get them more involved.
Try Group Projects
Encourage your remote employees to work together. It teaches them valuable skills and helps them feel more valued in their work.
“When people are paired up, they learn to communicate more easily and often, and to share (rather than hide) problems and solutions — all of which increases overall information flow and team alignment,” says Obie Fernandez of The Muse. “One team leader observed that after pairing up developers, his fragmented team began to have ‘real conversations…they actually began to enjoy and trust each other.’ They turned from a ‘random collection of six, bright talented individuals who didn’t work together’ into a genuine team.”
You have the power to create a stronger remote team for your company as long as you’re willing to use your resources and stay proactive.