The remote workforce is a fact of life for businesses in New Zealand and around the world. Mobile technology allows people to get work done at countless locations other than the office. But however far flung your team is, it’s important that everyone stay in touch to maintain a sense of shared mission and cohesiveness. Knowing that colleagues are just a click away can help bolster morale and give everyone a sense that they’re ultimately working together toward common goals.
Here are 4 strategies for staying in touch with team members working off-site.
1. Make Your Expectations Clear
If you don’t make it clear that you expect team members to stay in touch regularly, some of them will assume that you don’t and won’t make the effort. Whether you want to stay in contact based on time intervals (a weekly or monthly team video conference, for example), or whether you stay in contact based on project milestones, it’s important that you make these priorities clear. In fact, it should be something you discuss with potential employees during the hiring process so there are no misunderstandings. For some businesses, regular email contact is sufficient, while others may want a weekly phone call, Skype session or Google Hangouts meeting. Ensure team members know what communication is expected, and how frequently.
2. Select Technology Tools With Care and Forethought
Fortunately, there is an abundance of technology that makes communication with off-site team members easy and affordable. From video conferencing solutions to project management platforms, remote collaboration is common enough that technology producers address these needs with their products and services. You could, for example, use a shared project management platform for everyone to keep the team apprised of which tasks and milestones have been completed. Additionally, you could schedule a regular all-hands video conference so everyone has a face to put with various project tasks that are going on. You can even take advantage of business social media solutions that allow your team members – wherever they are – to socialise around a virtual “water cooler,” helping them get to know each other better.
3. Special Effort May Be Required at First
If you’ve had telecommuters or a geographically distributed team for a while and want to implement a better system for remaining in contact, expect some growing pains at first. People may need multiple reminders that a group teleconference is to take place, and the first few collaboration sessions or video conferences may feel a bit awkward whilst everyone is getting used to it. But if you stick with it, encourage participation and make these sessions rewarding and informative, they will eventually come to be something your team expects and doesn’t want to miss.
Don’t be discouraged if some trial and error is required at first. Finding the right platform and communication techniques that work best for the most people can take time and effort. But if you are willing to try new things and make the effort, eventually everything will fall into place.
4. Make It Worth Their While
Your work team should feel as if they benefit from regular contact and collaboration with colleagues, management and possibly even clients. Not only should you have valuable information to present them with, you should make it worth their while in other ways too. Perhaps you could name an “Employee of the Month,” or allow each team member in turn to make a presentation or tell the group about themselves. Everyone involved should feel that their particular role is valuable, and that they take something away from interactions with the team.
Another idea for making collaboration or meeting time worthwhile is bringing in experts on various aspects of work. Those aspects could be anything from creating more informative graphics to stress-relieving yoga poses that can be done sitting at a desk.
As easy as it is to work from home or on the road, it’s also easy for team members to drop out of touch with each other, and this can affect the quality of collaboration. Fortunately, there is a wealth of technology solutions available making it easy for work teams to stay connected and have a sense of unity and shared goals.
At Canon Business Solutions, you will find clever equipment as well as clever thinking from our people. We have solutions from printing and copying to connecting your branches, educating and sharing. These include multi-function printers, SMART Boards, projectors, video conferencing solutions, network security cameras and 3D printers. When it comes to office technology we have you covered.
To contact us – Click here