Improving Teamwork When Employees Aren’t Face-to-Face

Are your employees strangers to one another? That’s not all too uncommon. More companies are national or international in scope these days and telecommuting for work is a reality for 37 percent of the workforce. Face-to-face interaction has subsided. As more of your employees become far-flung, your team’s camaraderie suffers.

In fact, studies find that employees given the chance to socialize are more engaged in their work and have the energy to persist in the face of adversity. That’s great for companies with a localized workforce, but how do you go about improving teamwork when physical barriers prevent employees from meeting? Try putting these tips in action.

Simulate the Watercooler

That old watercooler did more than keep employees hydrated. It provided a place where social bonds were formed and ideas could spread. Research finds that face-to-face interaction makes people 10 percent more productive. So, how do you simulate that group cohesion when regular face-to-face contact isn’t an option? Implement an online watercooler.

There are plenty of tools available these days to allow for easy interoffice communication. Tools like Yammer or Slack can create an internal social network for your employees to have conversations and speed up collaboration on projects. Skype even offers free individual and group messaging to create bonds between employees who are miles away from one another. Any tool that allows your employees to more easily chat is worth investigation as you are improving teamwork.

Create a Culture of Connection

Sometimes, improving teamwork requires the help of a matchmaker. When a team is spread out, employees may be unaware of the hidden value of fellow coworkers. Is there a subject matter expert off-site who can help solve a complex problem? Can a team member elsewhere solidify a bond with a national client? The role of a leader is matching up these complementary skills or even just encourage the connection.

Most employees outside of management don’t have a bird’s eye view, so you need to provide a stratospheric perspective for them. Assign compatible employees across locations to work on projects. Even if a project may not necessarily call for interoffice collaboration, make this cross-pollination of ideas a priority. An added bonus is that these opportunities for collaboration can create great learning opportunities, also helping to boost your retention strategies.

Find Ways to Bring Your Team Together

Don’t pass on face-to-face connections. Certain circumstances are better served with in-person communication. Imagine if two employees will be working from different locations on a client project. Bringing them together for the project launch can help to build rapport early and quickly hash out the details and deliverables.

Other circumstances just present a valuable opportunity to improve inter-office teamwork. Industry conferences and conventions are a perfect time to provide employees with the opportunity to build bonds. You just need to have events of this nature on your radar so you can make the arrangements far enough in advance.

Bringing your team together doesn’t have to be all business. If you have an employee recognition program in place, you’re probably improving teamwork in ways you might not expect. We always see stronger bonds develop after we’ve sent our top performers on our annual all-expenses paid trip to Mexico. In addition to our annual trip, we have found that summits, client events, internal celebrations and leadership development seminars can strengthen the adhesive that holds a team together.

An Extra Shortcut to Improving Teamwork

Improving teamwork is dependent upon the personalities you bring into the mix. You want employees who not only bring a sharp technical acumen to every project, but who are also amenable to the way your culture works. That means ensuring that you find, screen, interview and onboard IT professionals who can climb on board without missing a beat.

The current candidate market is highly competitive and is only becoming more complicated as the demand for high quality technical talent increases. At IDR, we offer you an efficient and effective solution. Our team of technical recruiters have access to a nationwide pool of IT professionals. Plus, we work together to find you the best fit, wherever that person may be. Contact us today to find more people who will take your company to its full potential.