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Posted on September 24, 2018

The Secret Ingredient to Engaging a Remote Team

We’re a badass, bicoastal team – so when a client is looking for ways to better engage their people around the country or the globe, the first piece of advice we give them is to tap into empathy. What do we mean? It’s about considering someone else’s work experience when it comes to time zones, the mix of face-to-face communications versus emails or Slack messages, and so on. Showing empathy to your team is also about inclusion. Engaging in the right ways with your people can be a huge step forward in showing that you are a truly inclusive company.

 

Here are six ways to infuse some empathy into your employee experience and ensure you’re including everyone:  

  • Know the purpose of each internal comms channel and when to use it. Even though this is a communications fundamental and second nature for most of you, check yourself on it, especially as you introduce new workplace collaboration tools. Are you relying on Slack when you really should just pick up the phone? Most of the time it’s okay for someone to respond during working hours in their time zone, but sometimes it is important to communicate in real time. Do you have instances when you can see people face-to-face? Onboarding new hires or big, company moments are great opportunities to be in-person.
  • Take some time for a fun exercise: build personas! Think about the typical employee in your Tokyo office, in Dublin, or in New York, or the person who works from home in Houston. Ask yourself, “Am I doing everything possible to include them?” For instance, if you work out of the main office, don’t post HQ-specific content to your #general Slack channel. Another thing: be sure to add functionality to your intranet’s calendar so people only see events that are happening in their location. Even consider what time you send emails or schedule video calls — time zones matter! It’s especially important when you’re sharing company-wide news or hosting a virtual All Hands meeting.
  • Re-read your emails or Slack messages to check for tone. It’s crucial to make sure you’re hitting the right tone when you’re not communicating face-to-face or over a video call.This is a piece of advice that you’ve probably dished out yourself! It’s an important one because we’ve all seen what happens when an email is misinterpreted or just slightly off.
  • Become project management/task management pros! Invest in communicating and clarifying team members’ roles and responsibilities on a project — I promise, it’s worth the effort. When your people know how they contribute to the bigger picture, it makes virtual collaboration that much easier.  At Brilliant Ink, we’re big fans of 10,000 ft. and Trello, especially for our video projects. There are tons of tools out there—try them out!
  • Celebrate! It’s always important to recognize when people go above and beyond, even when you’re literally sitting next to a colleague. But it’s valued even more when you aren’t seeing each other face-to-face or even talking everyday.
  • Create a random, fun channel on Slack or at your All Hands. At BI, we have a #unicornadventures channel where we post photos of dogs, kids, vacations, just about anything! We also have a #brilliant books channel where people post everything from romance novels to cookbooks to business-y books that they’ve read. It’s a fab way to connect and see what’s going on with people outside of work!

And my last tidbit of advice: People want to connect, so you might find that if you provide the right channels, this will be easier than you think!

 

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Kate Brinkerhoff