By Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms

When you run a remote company, it becomes even more important to communicate clearly. You don’t have the luxury of popping into someone’s cubicle to ask them a quick question or gather their advice. Because technology is the only variable connecting you to your colleagues and employees, collaborating effectively is essential. 

Even when we have the tools and software to communicate, according to Harvard Business Review, we’re still missing out on body language. It’s challenging to decipher the meaning behind what others say in an email or chat. Where there’s any misinterpretation, there’s also anxiety that affects morale, communication and productivity. 

Collaborating with a remote team is no easy task at first, but it’s essential for your company to reach its goals. Here are three things you can do to bring your remote team together so your business and its employees can succeed. 

1. Encourage your team.

People are more willing to speak up and add their thoughts if they feel their peers welcome those thoughts. It’s crucial to listen to each team member and hear what they have to say. That way, your company is cohesive, and everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves. Not only that, but you’ll receive more constructive feedback that could potentially boost the company to new heights.

At our remote company, we use a system called Cheers for Peers to praise colleagues for a job well done. Anyone can write a positive note about a co-worker for things such as performing a task well, exceeding deadlines, maintaining a positive attitude and more. Outward praise builds a culture that recognizes hard work and increases productivity. 

When people recognize and encourage the effort their team puts in, it boosts innovation and morale. It also makes it easier to work with others when everyone appreciates a job well done. 

2. Switch to video chat.

Email might be a useful tool for marketing to customers, but that doesn’t mean it’s what your company must use to communicate with each other. If you need immediate responses, email isn’t the way to go. On top of using collaborative software, such as Slack, you should also turn to video. 

Video chat requires employees to get in front of the screen and show their faces to the team. It offers a more personalized, intimate conversation because you’re able to gauge others’ body language and expressions. There’s no room for misinterpretation when you’re looking at someone as they speak, which is why using video calls is so important for remote teams.

You can implement video as early as the interviewing process. Rather than conducting phone interviews, video calls can assist you in making the right decision so you find the most suitable hire. From there, you can use it for the onboarding process and when conducting monthly or weekly conference calls.

3. Have intentional fun.

The best way to improve collaboration among your team is by implementing fun into the equation. Just because everyone works from home doesn’t mean your company has to miss out on birthdays and socializing. Having fun is essential for everyone to connect with each other so they can effectively collaborate during work hours.

In our company Slack, we announce an employee’s birthday early that morning. By the time everyone logs in for the day, they see the announcement and wish their colleague a happy birthday. Even if we can’t gather around a delicious cake, it helps everyone feel special and included despite the distance.

Our company also wanted to find a way to connect employees on a deeper level that was friendly, fun and creative. So, we created an annual retreat where everyone flies in and meets each other face to face. We host games, eat meals together and hang out to discuss life and work. It’s easier to go home and communicate with people you know and trust, and meeting them in person makes a difference.

Over to you.

Working together in a remote team of employees is about more than having the right technology. If anything, it’s about forming deeper connections with co-workers and colleagues that encourage productivity, creativity and innovation.

It’s easier to work together when everyone feels welcome, heard and free to express themselves. Therefore, it’s crucial to implement practices in the company that encourage both individuality and togetherness. How will you motivate your remote team to work together more efficiently?

Stephanie Wells is the founder of Formidable Forms, a drag & drop form builder for WordPress that empowers freelancers to create form-based solutions.

Published on: Nov 1, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.