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August 17, 2017
Team Development  |  6 min read

How to Keep Remote Teams Connected

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Amanda Cameron

Remote employees are used to working solo. For many online businesses, however, projects require collaborative efforts.

Building team unity can be challenging while managing virtual employees. You lose the “water cooler” effect of a regular office setting where employees run into each other and talk. These kinds of interactions seem minor, but they actually play a big part in your team’s success.

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Team builders for a remote team can help your employees develop trust. Use remote team builders to increase employee engagement and establish a company culture.

Team builders for remote teams

Your team needs to make connections, especially when they primarily communicate through technology. Try these team builders with your remote employees.

1. Social networking

Remote employees can interact through professional social media websites and hangout apps. Team members can share articles, information, and insights while building connections.

Remember the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words? It’s repeated time after time for a reason. Pictures can help your remote employees get to know each other. Team members can learn a lot about each others’ lives by sharing pictures on social media.

2. Personal updates

Being a remote worker can be isolating. Employees need to know that you care about them and they are part of a team. Make an effort to get personal updates from all your remote employees.

Personal conversations can be great icebreakers. Before each meeting, find out what’s going on in each employee’s life. For example, ask if they’re doing anything fun over the weekend. Be a leader that creates teamwork, even if your employees operate in a virtual workspace.

3. Virtual coffee breaks

Set a time for your team members to bond outside of their work roles. Take a break from work to connect through chat, phone, video conferencing, or another communication channel. You might even send coffee gift cards to employees ahead of time as a company funded event.

Have personal conversations with team members. A virtual coffee break is a chance for your team to have fun and unwind. The more comfortable team members are, the better they work together. Use a coffee break as a low-pressure way for your team to bond.

4. Collaborative calendars

Managing schedules can be tough for employees who work from different locations. Use a cloud sharing calendar that allows all team members to note events and tasks. Designate calendars for different types of events and color code each category.

Use the calendar for both work-related and personal events. For example, schedule meetings, team building activities, project deadlines, and manage appointments with clients. If you offer flexible work schedules or paid time off, have a place where employees can mark their work schedules. That way, employees know when it’s OK to contact their team members.

5. Group learning opportunities

Learning opportunities are a way for your team to talk about deeper professional issues, rather than daily tasks. Your remote employees might participate in online classes, discussions, webinars, or virtual conferences. After each event, connect with your team and discuss what each member took away.

Your team might want to be involved in shared activities. For example, you could start a fitness program for remote employees. Workers do physical activities from their locations, track progress, and discuss their experiences.

You might also start a book club for your remote employees. Many books can help your team grow professionally. You might read parts of a book or the whole thing. Make sure you designate a time for your team to discuss what they read.

6. Employee recognition program

To keep remote team members engaged, reward your employees for a job well done. Have employees set goals and earn points as they reach milestones. For example, you might reward your team for completing a certain number of projects, making a sales goal, completing training courses, or attending events.

Employee recognition can help remote workers feel less isolated and more motivated. Once a team member meets a goal, you might offer incentive pay, merchandise, or another perk.

7. Team charter

One team builder that can keep your remote employees on the same page is a team charter. A team charter is a document that defines the direction, goals, and boundaries of the team. It helps focus the team and onboard new employees.

The team charter should include the purpose of the team. What is the team working towards, and how does each team member’s role fit into the big picture? The document should include how employees will execute tasks, reach desired results, and measure success.

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Amanda Cameron is a content writer for Patriot Software, a provider of SaaS accounting and payroll software. At Patriot, she explains difficult small business payroll, accounting, and recruiting strategy topics.

 


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