Ways to Make Your Remote Staff Feel Part of the Team Managing Your Online TeamChris JankulovskiMay 20, 20151 The benefits of having staff work remotely are self-evident. Employers see an immediate increase in the engagement of employees, they have far less infrastructure overheads and costs involved with overall operations are greatly reduced. However, there is one key piece to this jigsaw puzzle that can sometimes be missing when it comes to telecommuting and remote workers. This is the feeling of being connected to the company you work for; a very important part of keeping staff motivated and productive. So how do employers overcome this and empower those working remotely to feel ‘part of the team’? Technology is your friend The term telecommuting is in fact a dead one. Workers no longer communicate via a telephone to their employer and instead use much more sophisticated forms of communication. Think video, screen-sharing applications, virtual meeting websites, the cloud, various social media platforms that enable sharing almost instantly across a whole group of people and file sharing. All these methods of communication build on the one solid principle of personal collaboration that will make workers feel more integrated within your company These tools enable managers to foster the same types of relationships with remote staff as they do with those based in the same building or office. They should be taken advantage of and all senior staff responsible for over-seeing those working remotely briefed fully on the whole suite of tools and applications available to them. Personal interaction is key While technology is great you should not let it totally rule how a team collaborates. Sure, technology brings everyone together, all pulling in the same direction and in a more cohesive way, but personal interactions still need to be part of the equation. The theory that the social aspect of any team project is often lost through technology does have legs. There is little time for small talk and this lack of deeper understanding of their colleagues can alienate some remote workers. The first few minutes of a meeting for example, before the subject of business has started, talking about the game last night or how the kids are doing all build a human layer to the colleagues around you. This enables everyone involved then to connect deeper with that person not just as a co-worker, but also as a parent, football fan or a lover of jazz. Not just an acquaintance or a stranger that works for the same company. Some companies achieve this balance between technology and personal interactions by holding weekly meetings for all those involved, or thrice monthly meetings. Another great remedy to this is after-work events such as functions or guest speaker events, hosting those involved within your industry. A little thought into this area really can uncover a multitude of ways to bring everyone on the team together – even if it is only once or twice a month. Never lose focus of the big picture A big part of making those workers who aren’t in the office feel they are really part of the team as a whole is to give them a place and an understanding of where they fit into the company. Those working from home can often be left out of this company ethos and it is important for managers to establish and build on clear goals and targets, not only for the current project but those that will come after. A key part of this is an understanding from the worker of just what part they are playing in the complete mechanism. If a remote worker understands the businesses’ aims and goals they will carry a clear idea of how they fit into that. Special thanks to: PSFK PSFK for the main image, follow him on Flickr. About the Author Niall Phillips is a freelance writer and blogger, you can check out his website here. He enjoys writing about most subjects and has built up an affinity over the years for working from home.