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How to make your remote team feel more connected

Investing in the people who work for you is key, but how can you make them feel valued and supported when they are based elsewhere?

The concept of a company headquarters and a network of local offices is becoming much less common, therefore bringing about signify cant changes in how businesses attract, recruit and retain the best talent. The traditional model of a company bearing the fixed costs and lease liabilities of office premises and filling functional, soulless office space with staff chained to their desks has thankfully changed. Modern workforces have different requirements and it’s important to respond to them. Hiring and holding on to staff is an expensive and lengthy process. According to a Fast Company article, in 2011 companies spent $45 billion on recruiting, yet 46% of new hires still left the organisation after their first year; according to a Global Workplace Analytics study, losing a valued employee can cost an employer $10,000 to $30,000. While you should feel driven to invest in your employees, what is equally desirable is that your employees are also invested in your company. Staff who feel connected and engaged are less likely to leave their jobs, which will save your business money, ensure smoother working practices and help retain top talent for longer. So how can you best collaborate, communicate, support and develop your remote team?

Collaboration and communication

Working from home or remotely can have its benefits, but productivity can sometimes suffer. Start with communication – an instant individual or group chat tool, such as Slack, is a great way to stay connected for quick Q&As while a Skype call is suitable for those discussions where eye contact really is necessary. However, even the best technology can’t create those “water cooler moments”. Informal run-ins, such a chat in the lift or while grabbing a coffee, can be when ideas spark or decisions are made. Remote workers should therefore have access to inspirational and flexible meeting and work spaces to boost productivity, satisfy these impromptu brainstorms and be around like-minded people.

Support and development

Making sure your team has the technology they need to work and connect efficiently is key. Time must be taken to ensure the support is there and time isn’t lost trying to solve IT nightmares which drain both productivity and motivation. Homeworking can create social exclusion and concerns about the lack of wider opportunities or promotion, so if an employee wishes to attend a conference or course, they should be encouraged to do so providing they can demonstrate how it will benefit them, who they will meet and whether the skills obtained could benefit others in the business.

Let them turn off

Working remotely or flexibly can often translate to working all the time. We’re living in a culture of being “always on” but the backlash is beginning as people feel more overloaded than ever by 24/7 communication. Have clear guidelines on how you will communicate and when you expect them to be contactable.

Feedback and meet-ups

Out of sight should not translate to out of mind. Invest in feedback software, such as a weekly survey, to keep teams and leaders connected. Equally, while the benefits of working remotely are numerable, working from home or alone can be lonely. Regular meet-ups in creative environments are a great way to build teams, strengthen relationships and encourage collaboration.

This article was originally featured in The Informer. To read the full magazine, please click here.