With a recent survey suggesting 80% of Canadians would seek a new job if forced back to the office full time, remote work doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon. However, whether you employ local work-from-home staff or online workers from other regions, following a distance-based business model isn’t always easy.
Here are 6 things you can do to keep remote employees feeling connected in a digital work world.
1. Use tech consistently across your business.
One of the simplest ways to promote workplace cohesion—and keep staff from feeling disconnected—is by having all your employees share the same set of communication and productivity tools.
If, for example, you have some staff who work remotely and others who come into the office, using a common collaboration platform will help keep everyone in sync.
For best results, encourage your in-office team members to meet virtually whenever possible (rather than in person) so they can loop remote co-workers into their conversations.
2. Make your culture virtually inclusive.
Feeling left out of the loop is a major complaint among remote employees.
To promote a more inclusive culture, make it a priority to:
- Include out-of-office staff in key decisions and client meet-ups when you can
- Keep them informed of project outcomes or any changes in direction
- Connect with remote employees individually through occasional, one-to-one emails or phone calls
It’s especially important to remind staff working at a distance that they matter, and to show you’re grateful for their contributions.
3. Set up a remote watercooler.
Missing out on daily bonding time is one of the main reasons why so many remote employees feel disconnected from their teams. This can be especially problematic if your entire workforce is virtual.
To offset the sense of separation that can happen when working exclusively online, try using a dedicated chat app as your company’s remote watercooler.
By providing a space where employees can mix work-specific exchanges with more casual conversation (much like they would in a physically shared office) you’ll help remind them they’re part of a like-minded group.
4. Use multiple connectivity tools.
There’s no shortage of devices at your disposal for promoting group connectivity and helping co-workers feel mutually engaged.
In addition to integrating collaborative technology (like messaging and video apps) into your virtual workplace, why not try:
- Holding weekly lunch or coffee gatherings online
- Celebrating work milestones and other special events over video
- Leading or suggesting that staff organize virtual, after-work get-togethers
You might even help your remote employees form a digital book, music, or movie-lovers club.
5. Create a company newsletter.
Sharing company news and events monthly, in an easy-to-digest digital newsletter, is a great way to keep distance-based employees in touch with business happenings.
By also including staff photos, stories, and role descriptions—or circulating the results of a series of lighthearted employee surveys—you can help your team feel more connected to co-workers they may not get to spend much (if any) time with in person.
6. Gather in person as much as you can.
Remote connection strategies and online meetings can go a long way to lessening the strain of working apart from others. What they can’t do, however, is fully replace face-to-face interactions.
As much as possible, you should try to gather your employees together in person on a regular basis, whether it’s through:
- Monthly dinners
- Quarterly conferences
- Annual conventions or trade shows
Psychologically speaking, experience is more than just what we see—it’s also what we feel. Making it easier for remote workers to experience one other’s company in person is one of the best ways to keep them feeling connected.