A lot of my clients with remotely located sales, service teams as well as people at client locations and client implants struggle with keeping their people engaged and connected to the organization.
The Challenges with remote teams are many;
- Sense of loneliness leading disengagement with the organization and its culture.
- Victim syndrome can kick in leading to lack of motivation
- Alliances and associations within or outside the company that leading to unwanted cliques
- Limited and passive communication often leading to miscommunication or wrong interpretations.
Here are my thoughts;
Leadership involvement & acknowledgment
Remote employees want to feel that they are important and that they are contributing and working hard for the organization while missing out all the perks of being in big corporate office with its parties, informal gatherings and festival celebrations etc.
Nothing conveys that you are important like a willful, vocal and direct acknowledgment of this fact from the Leadership. A video file works best as it is human and personal in nature. Ideally done as a casual surprise message on one random Monday morning.
If there is a buy-in, then comes the matter of a mechanism or a medium to make this happen.
Any internal messaging, internal social media platforms or an LMS platform that is frequently accessed by the employees is a good place to plant these video messages as they can be sent to targeted people.
Of course, nothing like a personal visit once in a while from a senior member who may be someone higher up than the line manager.
Personalized messages from the team on important days
As clichéd as it may sound, a personalized and direct message as an email or a WhatsApp video or audio message from each member of the team to celebrate an important day of a team member goes a long way in establishing a sense of camaraderie and bonhomie in a team. The operative word is “personalized”.
Extend your team meetings/conferences
A Team review meeting is one occasion where the entire or most of the team makes the effort to come together . This is an excellent opportunity to reinforce the common ground that binds them together and get the team an opportunity to interact, share and engage with each other. This is the essence of being part of a team and understanding the culture that binds them.
But this can't happen over the business. Organizing team activities facilitated by a trained facilitator who will drive the process of sharing and reflection will help the team understand and articulate what binds them as a team and what challenges them as a team and more than anything else creates opportunities to connect with each other outside of the roles and transactions of business.
Most managers share the happenings of the company with remote teams so that they may stay connected, but what says you are important and a valued team member more than anything else is when communication works the other way round. Share with the rest of the organizations the happenings at remote location, which is often where the action is, closer to the customers. This serves the purpose of both giving the remote team a sense of purpose and importance and the company a first-hand view of life closer to the customer.
- Give the remote teams questions like, “your most challenging customer situation in the last month” or “What is the most difficult situation you faced in the last month”.
- Ask them to shoot a videos of themselves answering these questions prefixed by information about who they are, their location and role and then share this information on the intranet with comments from senior members of the team.
These will go a long way in bonding the remote teams with the organization and building a culture of recognition and respect in the organization.