A thousand miles away has never felt closer: How to make remote employees feel like part of the team
As technology rapidly changes and makes working from anywhere easier, more people work remotely than ever before. Working remotely can be a challenge. Trust me, I know this from experience, having worked almost 13 years from home in a previous association management life.
When AMPED recently transitioned in a new client, the National Air Filtration Association (NAFA), we were fortunate to add NAFA's long-time staff person, Terry, to our team. Terry happens to live in another state, over 1,000 miles away. In addition to everything associated with bringing on NAFA, we wanted to be sure that Terry felt like a part of the AMPED team right from the start, regardless of the fact that we didn't share office space.
How can you make a new, remote employee feel welcome? Here are a few tips:
Terry was included on our staff instant messaging system, Convo, right away. This allows us to quickly and easily communicate. It’s faster than email and means we don’t have to pick up the phone every time we need to share a bit of information.
No one looks good on the web cam, which is why I was hesitant when it came to making the leap from phone to Skype. But once we started holding our weekly check-in meetings via camera, I quickly realized the value of seeing the person on the other end. That one once-a-week, “in person” catch-up helps us feel more connected and strengthens our relationship.
Our cloud-based server through Egnyte allows Terry to access all of the NAFA files the same way we do in the office. We’ve moved to the cloud and already see the benefits. There’s no need to email files back and forth.
Meet the Team
It was important for Terry to see the new NAFA headquarters and meet her co-workers, so we invited her to Madison for an onboarding visit. We took advantage of the few days she was here by holding our annual AMPED photo shoot and rescheduling our weekly staff meeting so Terry could hear about all of the things the staff was working on. We also spent meal time with her, included her in our "$2 Latte Tuesday" tradition and got to know each other on a personal level – a big part of the AMPED culture.
In the end, the benefits of having a remote worker who is passionate about the organization far outweigh the challenges. Technology allows us to communicate just as effectively as if we were in the same office. As long as we remember the importance of incorporating the relationship building and the human touch into our daily routine, we can make the most distant worker feel like a part of the team.
Do you allow employees to work remotely? I’d love to hear how you’ve made them feel like a part of the team.