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How To Make Remote Employees Feel Included

If you’re like most managers these days, the ongoing pandemic has a great many of your employees working from home. 

That fact has made life difficult for employees and managers alike, and one of the most commonly heard complaints from remote workers is that they feel isolated and cut off from their coworkers.

This isn’t just idle complaining, either.  That sense of isolation leads to lower morale and decreased productivity. 

The good news is that there are a few simple things you can do as a manager of a still-adjusting remote workforce to help make them feel more connected and included.  Here are the most impactful strategies we’ve seen employed to this point:

Communicate Via Multiple Channels

Don’t rely exclusively on email for communications with your remote team.  The problem with email is that old habits are hard to break, and many managers are in the habit of sending out batches of emails in the early part of the day and then not checking back in until late in the afternoon.

That leaves your remote employees feeling disconnected for the better part of each workday, which is obviously nonoptimal. 

To counter that, have everyone on your team use whatever virtual meeting software your company has gravitated toward:  Google’s Meet, Zoom, Skype, or similar.  Stay in regular contact via that channel and mix it up with text messaging and the occasional good old fashioned phone call.  It’s the small things that can make the biggest difference and the personal touch goes a long way here.

Don’t Always Make It About Work

Another important thing you can do is this:  When you reach out to the remote members of your team, be sure that it’s not always about work.  Granted, your employees are there to do a job and talking about work-related stuff is critically important, but again, part of your goal here is to counter the feeling of isolation. 

With that in mind, be sure that at least some of the communication you initiate is more lighthearted, casual and conversational.  Maybe share a funny meme you discovered, or strike up a non work-related conversation.

This shows your employee that you genuinely care and see them mas more than a virtual cog in the corporate wheel.  It builds bridges that would normally be built via face to face interaction but since that’s not possible right now, this is a worthy substitute.

Include Remote Workers In Your Recognition Program

Finally, if you’ve already got a recognition program, be sure your remote employees are a big part of it and that their efforts and contributions are recognized right alongside the employees who are still coming into the office.

If you’re in the habit of giving out small gifts in recognition of certain achievements, nothing will brighten the day of a remote employee faster than getting an unexpected package delivered to their door. 

It doesn’t have to be anything big or extravagant.  The simple fact that they were remembered and included will be more than enough.

If you keep these three strategies firmly in mind and employ them on a regular basis, your remote workers will be happier, more productive and feel more included, and that’s good for everyone.