How to Create Belonging for Remote Employees

Part of a company’s culture includes employee sense of belonging. Every employee is a teammate and it should be a goal of the company to have a strong team. Workers should be able to collaborate well with each other and always feel valued. After all, feeling a sense of belonging will shift employees’ perspectives from “just getting through the day” to wanting to contribute their ideas and make real change within the company.

All company leaders should want their employees to feel belonging because it will create a positive work culture, enthusiasm among employees, reduce turnover, and increase productivity. Creating this sense of belonging can be especially important for remote workers, as the lack of in person interaction can make them feel separated. So, how do you shift remote employees’ goals from just working to earn a paycheck to working towards the company’s goals? Here are seven ways to create belonging for remote employees.

1. Give remote workers plenty of opportunities to contribute.

Assigning remote workers the opportunity to contribute to the agenda of team meetings will enforce to them that they are key members of the team. It will also give them a chance to share ideas and comments in a group setting where they might otherwise sit back and remain quiet.

2. Schedule routine meetings for virtual “face to face” time.

Having one-on-one or small group zoom sessions regularly can help remote employees feel included and supported. The visual component is important so that teammates can feel more connected to one another and show that they care enough to invest their time with them.

3. Start team meetings with networking opportunities.

Giving your team a chance to network amongst other employees – especially those logging on long distance – is important to do for five to ten minutes whenever there are meetings. You can engage employees by using prompts to start up conversations and connections between employees. This will allow coworkers to get to know each other and reinforce the feeling of belonging for remote employees.

4. Check in regularly with remote workers.

Making sure to check in with how your remote employees are doing will make them feel a stronger sense of belonging. Instead of jumping straight to business during calls or meetings, make sure you take a minute to see if there is anything the employee needs or would like to share about their emotional health. Employees should always feel like their voices are being heard, even if you may not have an immediate solution or response. Putting in the extra effort to show your remote workers you care will create a much more positive experience and a stronger working relationship.

5. Recognize remote employees’ accomplishments.

Recognizing positive things happening among employees should be a priority in making all employees feel valued. When you see something that deserves acknowledgement, you should highlight these successes in an email to your groups. This will help in-person workers also see the remote workers’ contributions that they may otherwise not come across. Other ways you can show your appreciation could be with a physical representation such as company-branded merchandise or a gift card.

6. Make your expectations of remote workers clear.

With in-person and remote workers it is very important to make your expectations clear. Furthermore, when you tell your employees to do one thing, such as be online at 9 a.m., make sure that you are responding to their emails and being available at that time so that you are not sending the wrong message. Having behaviors that don’t align with your beliefs can make you seem disconnected from your team and lead to resentment in the long run.

7. Take time to recognize things that may be affecting your workers.

Leadership expert Magalie Rene recommends, “acknowledging any particularly traumatizing public events occurring that affect the marginalized members of your team.” Offer the employee to let you know how you or Human Resources can be of support. Rene says, “Ignoring traumatic public events is the quickest way to make someone feel invisible, ” and that “compassionate leaders make those around them feel seen. People who experience being seen are more likely to feel they belong.”

Source: Glassdoor – 9 Ways to Create Belonging for Remote Employees