Telecommuting options have exploded over the past decade, and Gallup’s 2017 report showed that 43% of professionals work remotely at least some of the time. Offering remote flexibility is often a wise business decision for many reasons, not the least of which because it’s good for team members themselves. Remote contributors commonly report lower stress levels, higher productivity, and a better work-life balance.
But managing a remote workforce brings intrinsic difficulties, particularly when it comes to strengthening workplace community and connection. This division can sometimes feel amplified during the holidays, especially if you have a blended workforce. Here’s three tips to help your remote team members feel connected to your organization’s seasonal spirit:
- Strategically schedule on-site visits. At Ultimate Software, remote workers typically attend all-team gatherings at least once a year. While today’s tech tools enable camaraderie, there’s really no substitute for face-to-face interaction. If resources and scheduling allow, consider scheduling team meetings in October or November — before most holiday PTO begins, but close enough to get into the spirit. Especially when coupled with gift-giving or a celebratory dinner, these events can pack a lot of collaboration and team-building into a short period of time.
- Send care packages. Every organization has different policies regarding gift-giving. If you’re purchasing gifts for your team or taking them and their spouses out to dinner, be sure to treat virtual employees, too — don’t underestimate the power of a gift card to their favorite restaurant or an extra day off to spend with family. You can even host a white elephant or similar gift-giving exchange while video conferencing if flying teams in is not an option. Sending a hand-written note to each member of your team is an incredibly powerful way to let them know you’re thinking of them and that you appreciate their contributions, and that you value them as both an employee and as a person.
- Let them share in the festivities. If you’re planning a holiday event, either tie in a virtual social component or be sure to share photos and videos with the off-site team. At Ultimate, we look forward to our fierce Halloween competition every year, and it’s recorded and shared company-wide. Another cherished tradition is our #UltiUglySweater day. Virtual team members love these social engagement opportunities, and it’s an easy (and inexpensive!) way to bolster holiday and community spirit.