The image of the traditional office is changing. An increasing number of small businesses are allowing their employees to work remotely part- or full-time. While this has shown an increase in productivity in some cases, there is a substantial risk to businesses that choose this option.

When you have employees who work remotely, you lose that natural bonding that occurs from working in the same space. It becomes harder to build trust and loyalty within a team.

So, what can you do to provide that work-life balance that telecommuting offers without losing your company culture?

#1: Define the Goals

If your employees are working remotely, it can be difficult for them to stay on task. Establish clear short- and long-term goals for each individual employee and the team as a whole. The more specific you can get, the better.

#2: Check In Often

While working at home is going to different for each employee, you can keep everyone on the same page with weekly meetings. Hold one team meeting, and individual meetings to remind your employees that you are all in this together.

#3: Ask for Feedback

One of the most challenging aspects of managing a remote team is that you cannot walk by someone’s desk and sense when they are struggling. You rarely ever see remote employees, so it can be easy for them to hide issues. To mitigate this, ask frequently for feedback about how they are doing. By keeping that “open door” policy, your employees can let you know when they have a problem, and you can work together to overcome the challenge.

#4: Use the Right Tools

Real-time communication tools are a must when managing remote teams. Slack, Skype, Evernote, and similar tools can help you keep your employees engaged as a group, no matter how far apart they are. Every business is going to have different needs, and use different tools.

#5: Watch for Communication Breakdowns

Communication practices will make or break remote teams. Be mindful of potential communication barriers between departments or within teams. You need to be able to get your team together in person to avoid any major breakdowns. Have a plan in place to schedule retreats when needed.

Are you managing a remote team? What would you add to the list?

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