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In order to perform well, it is vital to have great engagement in your remote team.  For distributed teams, it brings the extra challenge of social distance.

Remote work puts a strain on the ability of team members to create bonds.

How do you cope with this challenge and build the same amount of engagement in your remote team as you would with a co-located team?  

Let me show you three ways to improve engagement in your distributed team.

1. Reaching a mutual goal together

Team members feel engaged when they have a clear common goal. With the whole team focusing on the same purpose, it will lead to bonding and team spirit.

Remote team common goal

Make sure remote employees have constant access to the mission, vision, goals and project updates. They will feel more committed.

Joint team goals make it easy to visualize their personal contribution within it.

This way, everyone is committed, focusing on the same future.

2. Establish strong connections to increase remote team engagement

Strong connections and camaraderie are essential for any team. It fosters a we-feeling. This feeling of belonging has a big impact on engagement  in a remote team.

On the opposite side, if the connections within the team are weak, it will result in a feeling of isolation and create a culture of individualisation.

Make sure you connect team members on a regular basis, so that they can exchange on a social and emotional basis.

relationships remote team

Here are some ideas to establish strong connections:

  • Enable colleagues to work together on projects and not just on their individual tasks. If you have an international team, try to combine people from different timezones.
  • Create frequent opportunities to communicate, have team check-ins and time for brainstorming
  • Create an online water cooler environment, where team members can chat about non-work related topics.
  • If possible, meet up face-to-face on a regular basis 
  • Make a habit of using video often, to enjoy the emotions and expressions of team members
  • Have a virtual icebreaker at the start of a meeting
  • Have a virtual lunch or coffee together
  • Start each meeting with a few minutes of casual chat

There are many other ways, you can think of, to establish strong connections.

Just pick one at a time and start applying it in your team.

Do you want to learn more about building relationships? Get my free guide '3 fun & easy ways to build strong relationships in your remote team'.

3. Intelligent use of communication tools

Because remote workers work together from a distance, it needs to be easy for them to connect through the internet

Preferable in one central place in the cloud, where co-workers can find each other at any time. 

The following collaboration tools will help grow the engagement in your remote team:

Chat

As a team, it is good to have a chat tool, like Slack, Google Hangout or Microsoft Teams, for short questions, non-work related chat, and discussions.

Chat Remote Team

Video

Wherever you are, whenever you need some face time – a video call can make all the difference.

Video meetings enable co-workers to see each other's facial expressions and emotions.

For this purpose you can use tools like Skype, Google Hangout or Zoom for planned and spontaneous video meetings. 

Updates 

Before we talked about having a common goal. In order to keep track of the status of your projects and goals, it is great to have a central place with the overview. A place where everybody is up to date and can discuss the progress. For this purpose you can use a tool like Trello, Asana or Microsoft Project Planner.

Document Sharing 

In order for co-workers to easily share knowledge, it would be good to have one common place for this purpose. Preferably in the cloud, like Google Drive or SharePoint.

E-mail and phone

And then, of course, there are the usual communication channels of e-mail and phone. 

I would like to challenge you to use these means of communication as little as possible. Mostly to experience the benefits of the other tools

Besides, if you use the other means of communication on a regular basis, you will see, that you hardly need to use these more old fashioned tools anymore.

Remote team phone

Conclusion

Here you have it, three ways to increase the engagement in your remote team:

  1. Reaching a mutual goal together
  2. Building Personal Relationships 
  3. Intelligent use of communication tools

In which of these areas could you focus on to improve the engagement in your team? Let me know in the comments below.


Saskia Langenberg

Saskia Langenberg is the founder of Mindshake. With consulting and coaching she helps managers to build great remote teams. And remote workers to have a happy and productive work-life.

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