9 min read
Jun 21, 2021
Human Resources

How to Keep a Remote Team Connected: 5 Actionable Tips

If remote work came with a warning label, it’d say “Warning: disconnection and disengagement highly possible!” Fortunately, following our five tips will help you build an engaging remote culture and avoid these pitfalls.

S.R.
Sierra RogersContent Writer

It may have taken a global pandemic to motivate businesses to embrace remote work, but we expect that work flexibility is here to stay—pandemic or not.

This January, GetApp ran a survey that found that 86% of employees currently working from home want to continue to work remotely at least part of the time.

Employees want work flexibility, and that means that businesses need to not only offer the option to work remotely, but also provide a remote working experience that guarantees employees are connected, engaged, and productive at home.

This is where HR communication leaders need to focus their efforts: On building a remote company culture that prioritizes connection, collaboration, and engagement. Below, we cover five tips that can help you achieve that. 

5 tips for keeping remote teams connected and engaged

1. Encourage frequent touch bases between managers and their team members 

Having an open line of communication is especially important in remote working environments, where it’s impossible to stop by someone’s desk to ask a question or share an update.

Luckily, collaboration platforms and video conferencing software help make up for the distance between remote workers with features like instant messaging and audio/video calls. Communication leaders should encourage managers to establish a cadence of touch bases between themselves and their team members with the help of these tools.

Coworkers connect one-on-one with GoToMeeting

Coworkers connect one-on-one with GoToMeeting (Source)

Encourage people managers at your organization to do the following:

  • Set up weekly or bi-weekly one-one-ones between managers and their direct reports. During this time, employees can discuss any challenges they’re facing, share feedback they have, or give updates on projects they’re working on.

  • Schedule monthly team meetings. Once or twice a month, managers should set aside time to meet with their entire team. These meetings can be used to share announcements, recognize the accomplishments of team members, and stay on top of action items.

Ready to rethink your communication tools?

2. Provide tools and opportunities that help employees collaborate

Remote worker isolation refers to the feelings of loneliness and disconnection employees sometimes feel when they are working remotely. If your employees are feeling disconnected, they are likely feeling disengaged as well, and disengagement can hurt your bottom line. Forbes claims that a single disengaged employee at the average salary level can cost you almost $16,000 per year

One of the best ways to connect your employees to one another is to provide them with opportunities to collaborate. For most employees, collaboration is required to get the job done. Even still, they need the right tools to help things go smoothly—even more so in a remote environment.

Collaboration software supports your team by providing a platform where coworkers can contribute to, share updates, and track progress on shared projects.

Coworkers brainstorm together with a mind map created in Samepage

Coworkers brainstorm together with a mind map created in Samepage (Source)

For individuals in positions that lean towards independent work, opportunities to collaborate with coworkers may be few and far between. Communications leaders should have strategies in place to bring employees together, whether it be on a single project or a larger, ongoing corporate campaign.

Consider some of these initiatives to improve collaboration between employees across your organization:  

  • Host a hackathon 

  • Schedule brainstorm sessions to ideate on solutions for organizational challenges

  • Set up a mentorship program

  • Establish employee resource groups (ERGs)

  • Connect employees through virtual lunch or team building activities

Longing for a collaboration platform that better suits your needs?

3. Create strong internal communications processes

No matter the size of your organization, delivering information in a timely manner to employees across different teams can be a challenge.

Add to that the different time zones that often come with a remote workforce, and without the proper communication tools and processes in place, your employees are at risk of feeling disconnected and disengaged from the rest of the organization. As a matter of fact, two-thirds of remote workers feel disengaged and experience little to no facetime with their teammates.

Put these communication best practices in action while working remotely:

  • Create an agenda for every meeting so key information isn’t forgotten

  • Keep internal resources up-to-date and accessible via a company intranet 

  • Develop guidelines that clarify when different methods of communication are appropriate 

  • Include all relevant stakeholders when sharing info to avoid siloed communication

While fractured communication is a risk of remote work, team communication software is specifically designed to help avoid this situation. From file sharing to instant messaging, team communication software offers essential features that help keep your workers connected.

Teams discuss projects in communication channels with the help of Flock

Teams discuss projects in communication channels with the help of Flock (Source)

Keep your coworkers connected and engaged with new team communication software.

4. Formalize your employee feedback process

According to Gartner, 81% of employees agree that feedback is critical to improving their performance (full content available to clients). Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of building a remote culture workers can succeed in, but without a formal process, conducting performance reviews can be intimidating and ineffective.

Adopting a 360 degree feedback process provides the structure needed for your employees to develop and grow. With 360 performance reviews, feedback is collected from your employees’ peers, supervisors, and direct reports, in addition to a self-evaluation from the employee themselves.

Launch your formal employee feedback process with these tips:

  • Explain the format of the performance review to your employees beforehand

  • Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure employee performance

  • Ask for input on each employee’s performance from collaborators across teams 

  • Schedule a conversation to deliver feedback and use clear, actionable language

A sample performance evaluation from 15Five

A sample performance evaluation from 15Five (Source)

Want to formalize your feedback process?

Start this search for a new tool with this guide to the 5 Best Apps for 360-Degree Performance Evaluation

5. Establish an employee recognition program

Our survey from this January found that of the small-business employees who transitioned to working from home last year, 77% are experiencing at least some burnout. Work-from-home burnout is a real thing, and while there isn’t a magic wand we can wave to make it go away, showing appreciation for your employees can help keep it at bay.

Recognizing (and rewarding) your team members for their contributions can reinvigorate the feelings of fulfillment and satisfaction they get from doing their job.

With a remote workforce, many of the typical ways companies show appreciation, like office parties or catered lunches, aren’t as accessible. Even still, there are other thoughtful ways to show employees you care.

Show appreciation for your remote employees with some of these ideas:

  • Gift them half or full days off

  • Send them gift cards or care packages

  • Host a virtual happy hour 

  • Give them a shoutout in team meetings

Additionally, employee recognition software can help your people managers come up with ways to acknowledge and reward their team members’ contributions. Employees can also shoutout and interact with one another on the platform, usually in a social media-like feed.

Coworkers recognize and reward each others’ efforts with Guusto

Coworkers recognize and reward each others’ efforts with Guusto (Source)

Want to give timely kudos to your team?

Find your next employee recognition platform with the help of our Category Leaders.

Take action: Upgrade your remote work tech stack

Remote work has its benefits, both for business owners and employees. Employers can attract and retain top talent, employees can enjoy work flexibility, and both can save money and enjoy better work-life balance overall. 

But in order to successfully embrace a remote work environment, you’ll need a strong set of tools on your side. Throughout this guide we’ve included examples of software that can make staying connected to your team a whole lot easier.

Here’s a quick recap of the tools we covered:

Visit these software directories to get an idea of the features and price points offered for each type of tool, as well as read reviews from real software users.

Survey methodology

The GetApp HR in the New Era Survey 2021 was conducted in January 2021. We surveyed workers at U.S. small businesses with two to 500 employees. The responses are a representative sample (by age and gender) of the U.S. population. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood the meaning and the topic at hand.

Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication. 

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