Question: What is your best tip for making employees working remotely feel integrated into the culture of your company?
Use Technology to Your Advantage
"We use collaboration tools to increase team communication and boost productivity. Whether someone is working from home, working remotely, or in the office, the tools they use at each location stay consistent. This allows everyone to stay on the same page regardless of their work location and leads to better team cohesion."
Make Time for "Face Time"
"Half of our company is remote, while the other half works at the same office with me. To help our remote workers connect to our culture, we rely on a lot of Skype video calls every single day. I probably have just as much "face time" with most of my remotes as I do with the staff that work in the same building, and it helps keep everyone on the same level with regard to our culture."
Establish Community Traditions
"Anything that feels strictly limited to the in-person work environment, such as employee birthdays or holidays, is crucial to also be integrated into your virtual working culture. I try to mix the work-specific messages with lighter, friendlier communication; I want my employees to feel like I value them not just for their output."
Use a Chat Application as Your Watercooler
"It's so useful to have everyone on the team on a chat application whenever they're "in the office," wherever that might be. It's not only a place to ask questions and bounce ideas around related to the business, but it's also a place for employees to build a rapport with each other and share more casual conversations."
Use All the Tools at Your Disposal
"We keep our remote team of a dozen people feeling integrated in various ways, including an optional book/article club and technologies used strategically for different purposes (Slack, Gchat, GoToMeeting). We also hold short weekly video team calls where each person gives a one- or two-minute achievements update, and we make a point of meeting in-person a few times per year."
Document Work Events and Outings
"One Instagram, Vine or YouTube video can tell a thousand words. Spend time documenting what was said, what was done, and what everyone learned about each other from company programs. Then share that information with remote employees. Of course, now with live streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat, companies can have remote workers tune into every new office party or celebration."
Implement Weekly Reports
"A virtual job is still a job. Connect weekly via Skype and require video to be used by everyone. On Friday at 5 p.m., every employee should spend 15 minutes creating a report that says what they accomplished and what they'll do next week. This keeps everyone on the same page -- even virtually!"
Show Your Appreciation
"Remote employees won’t be able to participate in certain events, but you can show them they’re part of the team by including them in key conference calls, asking them for advice and delegating key tasks. You can also create a connection through occasional emails or phone calls or by making other small gestures that show them you’re thinking of them."
Send Out a Newsletter
"We keep our remote team in the loop with a monthly newsletter. This is great for a few reasons: 1) It’s a public record for the remote team and everyone in-office; 2) It’s easy for our remote team to consume on their own time; and 3) It can be sent to new remote hires so they have context on recent events. Each newsletter includes a satisfaction survey, shout-outs, and a picture of everyone."