Keeping Remote Employees Engaged

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As your startup grows, you may find that you begin to take on remote employees or telecommuters.

On the plus side, telecommuting can save you office overhead and absenteeism and boost productivity, but it can be harder to keep remote employees feeling like they’re part of a team.

So here are some tips for creating a “virtual team” and keeping your remote workers engaged, courtesy of the Vaya Group.

Spend time forming relationships. Getting to know team members is critical, so take time to learn about each worker’s career aspirations, strengths, development needs and style.

Recognize accomplishments. Consider creating a team newsletter that highlights individual efforts, and send customized gifts, like gift cards, flower arrangements or gift baskets, for important personal and professional milestones.

Schedule regular coaching sessions. Use frequent phone or video conferences to present new assignments that match employee interests and strengths, and use them as an opportunity to learn more about remote workers and ways their work experience can be improved.

Communicate interactively. Go beyond email to develop an interactive team intranet that lets individuals share ideas, post accomplishments and ask questions. Use video conferencing and other virtual systems for more personal interaction.

Schedule periodic face time. Don’t pass up an opportunity for face-to-face meetings; they can be invaluable for getting colleagues together who otherwise never see each other. Virtual team-building games can help where there’s no chance for face-to-face contact. Try having everyone send in little-known facts about themselves, then displaying it for the group to guess who it is.

Adapted from 5 Tips for Motivating Virtual Teams at IT Business Edge.