Research shows that, post-pandemic, nearly half of companies (45%) plan to implement a hybrid work model, where employees can choose to work remotely part-time or even full-time. As companies hire more remote employees and distributed teams continue to grow, it’s important to not allow distance to be a barrier to your company culture. Make it known to your team members—from full-time and part-time employees to contractors and freelancers—that they are invaluable to your organization.
Here are some ideas for involving remote employees in your team culture and making them feel right at home at your company, no matter how many miles away from your office headquarters they may be.
Technology plays a vital role in keeping remote employees connected.
To help your remote team members feel prepared to work alongside their in-office coworkers, ensure they have all the necessary communication and productivity tools at their disposal. Consider using team collaboration systems or project management systems—like Asana or Trello. Seeing as communication—from weekly email updates to Slack discussions—sets the tone for a team’s unique culture, use digital communications systems as your virtual office to allow employees to collaborate.
The face-to-face element can be crucial to making your remote employees feel visible and included within your team.
As much as possible, invite your remote employees to team meetings using video conferencing so that they can stay synchronized with team updates. In team-wide company meetings, it can be easy to overlook the presence of virtual members who are dialing in to listen in on the meeting. During the Q&A portion of those meetings, make sure to check in with any employee calling in so that they have the opportunity to ask for clarification or bring up any concerns/suggestions.
As managers work to master managing and motivating in-office workers, having the added responsibility of off-site workers can present an additional challenge.
Make sure your company leaders are prepared to lead effectively through comprehensive leadership development programs, including offering strategies for managing remote workers, providing access to a full range of tools and resources for connecting with virtual employees, and encouraging ongoing check-ins and conversations between managers and employees.
Recognize and reward good work on a regular basis
Company community grows through the recognition of employee achievements. There are many creative ways to give your remote employees the kudos they deserve. Be sure to regularly bring attention to your remote colleagues’ outstanding work when recognizing employee accomplishments. A simple shoutout will help ensure that the employee feels like an essential part of the team. As well, don’t underestimate the gesture of sending mail to your remote workers, including company swag, birthday gifts, and thank you cards.
Organize in-person events as much as possible
Nothing can compare to the energy brought through in-person experiences when meeting, collaborating, and connecting with your fellow team members person-to-person. As much as your resources allow, plan to bring your employees together for face-to-face meetings once a year, a couple times a year, or if budget allows, once every quarter. These events can take the form of your company’s annual retreat as well as other learning and development, team-building, and community service events.
For remote employees within your region, arrange for team members to attend professional events, such as workshops and conferences, together. This way, everyone can bond over what they’re learning together and bring back the knowledge and skills to the work they do for your company.
With these ideas in mind, you can continue to be open and flexible in hiring the best people while still providing a strong and lasting company culture experience both inside and outside of the office.