How to Keep Remote Employees Engagedengage

It’s become increasingly more common for IT professionals to work remotely from home, from the road, or from client locations. But working on a virtual team does have its challenges. That said, there are ways to keep remote employees fully engaged with their teams.

Virtual work brings plenty of advantages to employers and workers. Companies can bring together top talent in from around the country or the world. Other benefits include happier employees with better work-life balance and flexible schedules.

It also turns out that virtual teams can be tough to manage and hard to get right. Why?

It begins and ends with team communication and building rapport. Whether a team is creating a new product, improving a process, or planning an event, communication skills are critical to the success of a business and its bottom line. The better the communication and rapport among team members, the better the relationships. For one, when team members are physically together, communication flows naturally. You can tap someone on the shoulder and ask them a question. In the case of virtual teams, you tend not to want to bother people with minor questions. That’s a mistake, and it can be the crucial difference between a team where employees work well, share best practices and come up with new ideas or a team that feels like they’re out of sight and out of mind.

Thankfully, there are many effective ways to keep your remote employees engaged. Here are potential starting points.

Use a messaging app like Slack as a better way to communicate.

Many companies across a wide range of industries are using Slack, a free group messaging application, as the primary means of communication. With nearly 3 million users to date, Slack is the fastest growing business app on the market. What makes Slack especially useful for teams is that it can replace email, instant messaging and face-to-face meetings.  While it’s possible to send private messages in Slack, by default, all discussion comments are visible to members of a closed group. Discussions in Slack are automatically archived and easily searchable. And because it’s hosted online, Slack is easy to set up and maintain.

Use videoconferencing for your next meeting.

Videoconferencing is a great choice when your team needs to talk about project updates and clarifications. It’s also a great way for remote workers to interact in new ways and build rapport. Through video, virtual workers can benefit from reading people — seeing the facial expressions and the nonverbal cues of their team members. As it turns out, these are key ways that team members establish trust. Because even with the best technology, it can be tough to conduct a meeting when a connection is unstable and audio is delayed, make sure to choose the right videoconferencing solution for your team’s budget and goals.

Mail them company-branded gear.

Bond with your remote workers and show them they’re an important part of the team by sending them gifts from the company office. They’ll appreciate some fun swag like a coffee mug with the company logo or an embroidered golf shirt.

Virtual teams made up of members working in different locations are on the rise. Even so, managing a team of remote workers can be a challenge. As this article illustrates, using tools like Slack and videoconferencing can help with communication and building rapport. For more ideas about building employee engagement, visit the Nesco Resource website.