Plugged In: How to Get Remote Employees to Collaborate Well

Business.com / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Cohesive collaboration equals higher productivity, which in turn leads to better companies. Learn how to get remote workers to collaborate.

As the push toward virtual workplaces continues across every industry, business owners are at a loss as to how to cultivate and sustain personnel collaboration.

Team building, employee relationships, and office culture support productivity and profitability. Without a physical office, maintaining a collaborative workplace is more difficult and more crucial than ever.

Whether your workforce consists entirely of remote employees or you manage a hybrid office with telecommuters, here are a few tips to master collaboration.

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Understand the Draw Toward a Remote Workplace

According to Global Workplace Analytics, 2.8 percent of the U.S. workforce now works from home at least half of the time. That’s 3.7 million Americans who opt for the remote workplace instead of the traditional brick-and-mortar structure. This number only continues to grow as more and more enterprises offer flexible options to accommodate and attract employees who want to work from home. The rise of mobile technology has made telecommuting easy for employees, but it has put a serious strain on workplace culture.

Workplace culture plays a large role in how happy and healthy a business is. Employees deem job satisfaction as more important than pay. Good office culture leads to increased productivity, employee satisfaction, and ultimately, more success as a business. Understanding why employees prefer a remote workplace can help you encourage office culture in a way that will get results. Working from home offers a variety of benefits to employees, including: 

  • Zero time and money spent on a commute
  • Schedule flexibility
  • Striking a work/life balance
  • Quieter atmosphere
  • More productivity

Looking at these benefits, it should be clear to managers that promoting office culture isn’t a matter of bringing employees together physically. While face-to-face interactions certainly form bonds between people, remote employees may resent traveling just to “get to know” coworkers. Instead, managers must utilize the myriad virtual tools available to bring employees together.

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Incorporate Today’s Best Collaborative Technologies

The technologies enabling the remote workplace are the same ones you can use to bring employees together. Thanks to apps like virtual whiteboards and enhanced video conferencing technology, business managers have new and exciting ways to bridge the gap between remote employees. Your remote workforce is an advantage to your business if you know how to optimize productivity with the right workplace collaboration technologies:

  • Weekdone. An app that enables employees to share weekly progress reports, plans, and tasks. Think Google Docs optimized for the workforce.
  • HipChat. This app encourages communication in a relaxed online environment where employees can come together and share files and messages on a private network.
  • Slack. A tried-and-true communication enabler, instant messaging is the ultimate way to connect employees. Try Slack, an alternative to traditional email.
  • Video conferencing. Capitalize on the benefits of face-to-face communication and a remote workforce by incorporating video conferencing. A popular statistic originally from Albert Mehrabian is that 55 percent of message interpretation comes from body language.
  • Jawbone. A revolutionary UP fitness tracker remote employees can use together to promote healthier lifestyles and boost team spirit.

Encouraging remote employees to collaborate with one another through shared workplace apps and technologies can create a dynamic, communication-driven environment. Focus on your adoption rates and employee training efforts to get the best results from integrating tech into office culture. Technology can go a long way toward encouraging office culture, but it’s not the only way to enhance collaboration.

Go Beyond Collaborative Tech

As useful as today’s technologies are for promoting collaboration, they only work as part of a larger strategy. Get to know your team on a personal level, and improve your efforts based on what your team wants from their workplace. From day one, have workplace culture goals in mind that you want to accomplish. Setting goals for your employees can set the stage for what you expect from them in terms of communication and collaboration. When your employees are working toward a common goal, your entire organization will run more smoothly. 

Keep your team organized during your collaboration efforts, and ensure everyone is on the same page. If you adopt a new technology, stay readily available to answer questions and concerns about the new practices. The businesses that are famous for their incredible office culture focus on what their employees want. Take Google, for example. Google offers many perks and benefits to employees, including free meals, employee trips, bonuses, and a relaxed workspace. You may not be able to do everything Google does for its employees, but the point is to tailor your efforts toward what will make your employees happiest. 

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Remote workplaces look different for every business. It may take some trial and error to finally discover the ideal methods for establishing employee collaboration, but the returns for your efforts will be worth the time and energy. Cohesive workplace collaboration equals higher productivity, which in turn leads to better enterprises. Make the most of your remote workforce by taking advantage of workplace collaboration tools.

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