More employees are choosing to work remotely as companies embrace alternative work schedules. In fact, the number of remote employees has increased by 140% since 2005, which is 10 times faster than the growth rate of on-site employees or self-employed individuals. Yet building culture and camaraderie among a remote team can be a challenge for even the most skilled managers.
The last thing you want is for your remote workers to feel isolated on an island, as this increases turnover and dissatisfaction. Ensure your remote employees feel like part of the team and stay engaged by following the guidelines below.
Building camaraderie involves connecting people to each other in a significant way outside of the work environment. At Flackable, under our hybrid office model, we make it a priority to give a new employee an experience that connects them to their team right away. For example, we will invite a new hire to attend a happy hour or a sporting event to meet other coworkers face to face. The introductions ensure remote workers have a sense of team before they become immersed in day-to-day work.
Onboarding is an essential component in connecting an employee to their managers and the company, and this is no different for remote employees. In fact, it’s more important. Introduce your new employees to their teams on their first day of work. Initiate introductions and make it part of your culture for team members to start chatting with new employees.
Additionally, setting clear boundaries and expectations helps prevent remote employees from falling into a silent silo. Make sure new employees know who the right people are to contact if they have questions or issues.
Setting clear expectations is only one step in the process of driving success through communication. Work meetings and open dialogue are essential for remote employee success. We keep an open dialogue with all team members, creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable to ask questions. More importantly, at Flackable, we want our employees to bond with each other, building camaraderie by sharing their personalities.
Familiarity is a large part of camaraderie, but with remote workers, there is not an automatic familiarity built from seeing each other all day long in in the office. Instead, familiarity must be intentional in order to create comfort. Start meetings with friendly discussions to build familiarity beyond business-as-usual meetings.
Implementing virtual water coolers and other messaging apps or channels designed to support informal conversation strengthens communication as well. Remote employees will begin to bond with each other as they learn personalities, rather than feeling each meeting is filled with strangers.
While we use happy hours and sporting events to assist with onboarding new remote employees, Flackable does not limit its camaraderie-building efforts to activities outside the office. Our headquarters is an office within a shared workspace in Philadelphia, and we use this space for training, community and collaboration. Not only is the office time an impactful experience, but we can continue their professional growth as a team.
Shared spaces have helped to create increased collaboration and productivity, even between individuals who do not work for the same employer. For remote employees, having office time with their teammates helps them continue to develop familiarity and reduce their sense of isolation. Virtual watercoolers become more effective after employees have a chance to interact and meet in person.
Also, using friendly competitions like games and other team-building activities creates camaraderie and friendship with a common goal that is not directly business related. Pairing up remote workers on projects fosters meaningful experiences while building a bonding environment.
Building camaraderie increases job satisfaction and decreases overall turnover, setting your employees up for success. Traditional work environments often benefit from camaraderie and teamwork, but building similar models with remote workers can be challenging if not handled correctly.
Ultimately, connection is the basis for camaraderie in any work situation. With Upwork predicting 50% of the workforce could be freelancing by 2027, establishing and maintaining connections between remote employees will become a necessity for companies to continue to operate in the new work environment. The key to a successful approach is forming that connection early by way of thorough and involved onboarding, building impactful work-related experiences, and then continuing these experiences throughout an employee’s professional career.