It’s the question every digital manager dreads: are you truly connected with your remote workers?
There are many advantages to having a remote workforce, but typically communication quality isn’t one of them. With the geographical distance between you and your team members, not to mention the difficulty of gauging the right tone over email, it can be difficult to build a proper two-way rapport with staff.
Luckily, there are some key things you can do to strengthen the connection with your remote workers. Check them out below, and get relationship-building!
- Give feedback on a regular basis
It’s your responsibility as a team leader to show your employees that their work matters, and isn’t just being sent into a void. This necessitates feedback: break the radio silence and tell them what they’re doing fantastic on, as well as what they have to fix. Don’t only offer them your feedback, either. It can be hugely beneficial for employees to hear what the client or customer thinks of their contribution to a particular project.
Be careful to moderate your tone. Email tends to make comments seem harsher than intended, so if you’re not already well-versed in using friendly punctuation and the odd smiley face, it might be a good idea to take a course in Professional Digital Friendliness 101.
- Prove that you’re a listener
While regular feedback is fantastic, problems can arise when you’re sending your criticisms on a regular basis, but your employees aren’t getting the same amount of airtime in return. Be careful about the dynamic you establish with your feedback: you don’t want it to become a case of you telling your workers that they did this and that wrong, and them being forced into a permanently-apologetic stance.
Realise that it’s your responsibility to be a listener, too. Your employees need to know that if ever they have problems – professional or personal – they can come to you. And remember that you don’t just have to make contact with your workforce when issues arise: the best relationships are built when you’re all able to talk about things other than just work.
- Plan an in-person conference or getaway
Sometimes nothing else will do but proper, face-to-face interaction. You could have had all the email contact in the world, and it’ll still feel as if there’s an element of intimacy missing.
Solve this problem by organising an in-person conference or getaway for your team. These kinds of events are fantastic for team-building purposes – and don’t forget that if you’re feeling disconnected, then your remote workers will be, too.
- Don’t restrict yourself to written media
Of course, email messaging is the most convenient form of communication for millennial types, but when you’re working to establish long-term relationships with your workers, you need more than just that.
Have more sustained discussions with your employees by utilizing video calling at every opportunity. Alternatively, be old-fashioned about it and pick up the phone. You’ll find that having a proper conversation is much more economical time-wise than is sitting in front of your computer trying to compose a perfectly-pitched email.
5. Think about renting a coworking space
This won’t be an option if your workers really are sprawled all over the country, but if a good portion of you are located in the same city, then scoping out some coworking spaces is a prime idea. Such spaces are becoming popular in regions like Southeast Asia – and for a good reason.
You can rent a space for the day, week, month, whatever you like, and gather everyone for some work and fun. This might prove exactly the right amount of time to “touch base” with each other and rejuvenate as a collective before you each return to your independent working lifestyles once again.
Cloe Matheson hails from the charming South Island city of Dunedin, New Zealand. She has enjoyed the perks of working at home, and can’t deny the great fun she’s had in her travels, especially her time in coworking spaces. Cloe has penned articles for a plethora of blogs and business websites including Hercules Gazebo. Check out more of her work on Tumblr.