Overseeing remote employees often means having to tweak your management style and make an added effort to keep workers in the loop. But ensuring that your remote staff works well together can be equally challenging, especially if your employees are spread out across a wide range of time zones and rarely manage to land in the same room at the same time. Here are a few steps you can take to help your remote employees better collaborate.
1. Communicate frequently
When you have your staff spread out in various remote locations, consistent communication becomes key. And as the person in charge, you need to set a good example by communicating with your teams frequently. You can do this by establishing a check-in schedule that requires workers to send updates at predetermined intervals and by sending out daily or weekly updates yourself (whatever's most appropriate for your business).
2. Invest in technology
There's something about the ability to match a name to a face that helps strengthen working relationships. If your employees can't collaborate in person, the next best thing might be to do so on screen. Therefore, it pays to invest in videoconferencing tools and other programs that allow employees to work together virtually.
3. Give workers a dedicated communication channel
As the person tasked with running a team or business, you don't necessarily need to be privy to every conversation your employees take part in. In fact, they should have a means of communicating directly, and that's where tools like Slack and other such group messaging services come in handy. This way, your workers will have the option to chat live on screen, communicate via group messages, and share updates in real time.
4. Hold meetings or conferences that allow teammates to gather in person
When your workers are spread across the country or globe, getting them together on a regular basis can be cost-prohibitive. But if you're able to swing even one major meeting or conference each year that gets them into the same building, you'll be doing a lot to strengthen your existing teams. If it's not feasible to have your entire staff convene simultaneously, aim to set up in-person events on a team-by-team basis, and do your part to encourage attendance.
5. Be mindful of time-zone differences and constraints
It's one thing to oversee workers who aren't in the same building but are basically on the same schedule. But when your staff is scattered all over the country or world, time-zone differences can make collaborating difficult. It's your responsibility, therefore, to take these constraints into account so that they don't become an issue. That could mean timing meetings more carefully so that most, if not all, employees can attend, or assigning projects to folks in the same time zone when possible so they have an easier time virtually working side by side.
It's hard enough to foster collaboration for teams that sit near each other in an office; getting remote employees to work well together often requires even more of an effort. At the same time, developing a remote workforce has its benefits. It can save you money on office space, allow for added coverage outside of standard working hours, and give you access to a larger pool of talent than you'd get by limiting yourself to locals alone. And that's reason enough to put in the extra time it takes to bring those workers together.