TEAM BUILDING

11 Techniques for Connecting With Your Remote Team

Home is where the heart is, and work is where the laptop is.
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Working remotely does not have to feel so distant for your team. Here are 11 techniques to help you team feel more connected.

Team Meetings:

1.  Create a regular schedule and stick with it. Avoid the temptation to have impromptu meetings with those who are under your same roof.

2.  Incorporate rituals into your virtual meetings like quickly sharing High's/Low's since your last meeting to get warmed up and create a window into your team's world.

3.  Ask for input from those who are remote first, then canvass the in-person team members to avoid falling into the "out of sight, out of mind" syndrome.

4.  Send all documents in advance so everyone is (literally) on the same page.

Electronic Meeting Tools:

5.  Use various tools to engage the remote employee in the conversations.  Google Hangouts, Skype,  GoToMeeting and other on-line collaboration tools allow your team remain intellectually and visually connected.

6.  Consider having everyone attend electronically if your team is only partially remote to level the playing field.

Face-to-Face Time:

7.  Periodically bring your entire team together. This also creates a fun team ritual (e.g., a quarterly or annual meeting).

8.  There is no substitute for another as powerful as face-to-face interaction, so be intentional with your agenda to facilitate "connection time."  It could range from a structured team activity to completely unstructured time just to talk over a meal.

9.  Do not cram your agenda so you strangle any chance for your team to really connect during breaks or really delve into issues that bubble up during a meeting.

Personal Touch:

10.  Remember, you live in a high-tech world, but leadership is still a high-touch job.

11.  Tame your technology. It's great to send emails, texts and IMs to your remote team, but if you really want to get the best from them, give the best of yourself with an occasional handwritten note of appreciation or a grateful voice message. Going old school can get you new, improved results.

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Last updated: May 15, 2014

LEE COLAN | Columnist

LEE COLAN is founder of The L Group, a consulting firm that equips and inspires leaders at every level. He is a leadership advisor, presenter of practical ideas, and a Thinkers 50 nominee for Top Management Thinker.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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