Remote workers are on the rise.
In fact, an estimated 3 million Americans consider home their primary place of work, according to a study by Global Workforce Analytics. We can thank cloud computing, uninterrupted (hopefully) Wi-Fi, and our smart and mobile devices for the ability to work in pajamas from the comfort of home.
It’s hard enough to keep employees in the office up-to-date on company affairs, so how do you manage to keep virtual employees within the company loop?
Try these six easy ways to keep your virtual employees engaged and in the know:
1. Create a mentorship program
Starting a new job is nerve-wracking for most, but starting a virtual position where no one is physically there to show you the ropes — that’s another story. In order to combat first day jitters and further streamline the onboarding process, consider starting a mentorship program for new hires.
Assigning a mentor to new hires for the first few weeks on the job can make a world of difference. This mentor can serve as the new employee’s go-to person for work-related questions, comments, or concerns. Mentors will aid in assimilating new hires, thus ensuring that they are at their most productive, sooner.
2. Develop a newsletter for informal matters
How do you keep remote employees in the loop?
First and foremost, keep communication constant. In addition to sending updates out in company-wide emails, providing employees with a monthly newsletter including anything from birthdays to important company updates is an effective way to brief remote employees on formal and informal matters of the company.
Furthermore, in an effort to avoid the all-too-familiar “out of sight, out of mind” feelings remote employees experience, try including an employee spotlight piece in the company newsletter. This will give employees an opportunity to learn something new and interesting about their team members, creating a more engaging company culture.
3. “Hangout” with employees
Sometimes “LOL” just doesn’t cut it. Unfortunately, remote workers miss out on the chance to attend company Happy Hour get-togethers. That doesn’t mean you can’t “hangout” with virtual employees.
Google+ Hangouts is a video chat platform that can help to maintain a connection with employees outside of the workplace. Consider planning weekly “hangouts” after work or as an end of the workweek activity. Doing so will give employees a chance to see each other and chat about matters unrelated to work, creating a better sense of camaraderie.
4. Share and collaborate
Working remotely doesn’t always have to mean working independently. Implementing real-time applications such as Google Docs helps to foster collaboration among team members.
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Instant screen-sharing tools, like join.me, are another great way to communicate with virtual workers. Since remote workers can’t physically assist one another, screen-sharing capabilities allow them to explain processes in greater detail.
In addition to sharing and collaborating on documents, consider consolidating and sharing key events happening within the company through shared calendars. Doing so will allow employees to see and plan for company-related affairs, such as events, deadlines, vacations, and holidays.
5. Send physical reminders
What better way to remind virtual employees of your existence than to send an occasional physical reminder?
Important events, holidays or milestones provide a perfect opportunity to reach out to employees and send a card, gift, or something similar. Not only will employees appreciate the gesture, but it will give virtual employees a better sense of inclusion.
6. Schedule occasional face time
There’s no denying that working from a remote office has its benefits. Even so, there is no substitute for connecting with someone in-person.
It can get lonely working from home, so consider implementing video conferences into your weekly routine when possible. Having a bit of face-to-face interaction can make virtual employees feel more connected in the workplace.
Want to take it a step further? Invest in bringing remote employees together at least once a year to encourage team-building and bonding with co-workers they don’t usually get to see. It may sound expensive, but the benefits of occasional face-to-face interaction are worthwhile.
Do you have remote employees? How do you go about keeping your employees engaged and informed?