In recent years, technology has revolutionized the world of business. With the development of communication technologies, it is now possible for employees to work remotely from various locations. Employers are increasingly adopting this hiring model since it gives them an opportunity to hire talent outside their local areas.
Because of their physical absence, however, remote workers aren’t able to adapt to company culture the way in-office employees are. They also often don’t get to see the people with whom they work. Remote workers can quickly find themselves detached from the company culture enjoyed by onsite workers.
This is why careful integration of your remote employees into the office culture is so important. A successful integration strategy results in the establishment of good rapport between remote employees, managers and associates. It also reinforces engagement with the overall company culture and helps remotes workers adjust to the social aspects of their job.
Companies that don’t properly integrate their remote workers set the stage for failure. Without proper assimilation to their coworkers and job requirements, remote workers can become disengaged and directionless. You can customize the process for each of your remote workers using the following best practices.
1) Set clear expectations
Setting expectations clearly from the start will help get your new hires onboarded more seamlessly. Make sure that they understand the proper procedures and requirements of the company’s telecommuting policy. Whenever possible, get relevant information to your remote hires before their first day of work so they can jump in and feel like part of the team.
Remote workers need to know their responsibilities and have achievable goals for future advancement. As a manager or business owner, you should let your workers know, in a clear fashion, exactly what they can expect from you. Present yourself as a team member and a facilitator, not as a taskmaster, and you will have better relationships that result in a more profitable operation.
2) Connect face-to-face
Physical interactions can help cement a relationship. If possible, have your remote workers come to your office to meet you and your team at the beginning of their employment and on a somewhat regular basis, even if only a few times a year.
If your remote employees aren’t able to come to meetings in-person, use video conferencing to have face-to-face meetings. Whenever you have meetings with your on-site employees, make sure you invite your remote workers to participate using a video conferencing app. This will help them feel more included in the company culture. Make your remote employees feel safe about asking questions and even sharing some personal details that will help colleagues get to know each other.
3) Make them feel welcome
Working from a remote location requires adjustments from workers and employers. You need to go the extra mile to make your remote employees feel welcome. Inspire your team to embrace the coworkers they don’t see in person and include them in brainstorming and collaboration. Encourage your team members to chat and share their experiences.
Don’t hesitate to think outside the box when incorporating remote employees into daily office life. Get a wireless mobile camera that will let you give new remote employees virtual tours of your office, in real time. Show your remote workers how work flows through your company and introduce them to their coworkers in their natural context. Make sure your traditional workers understand the importance of bonding with their virtual counterparts and involving them in daily activities.
4) Evaluate and refine the process
Spend time evaluating the success of your remote worker assimilation process. Solicit input from your on-site and remote employees and encourage them to share suggestions and feedback. Keep an open mind as you assess the process and carefully consider every new idea.
As a result of periodically evaluating your company culture, you can correct mistakes and find ways to provide a better experience for everyone involved. You should do everything possible to give every worker – remote or not - a positive and pleasant experience with your company.
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