The Way We Work
August 23, 2010 by Erica Benton

Whether you’ve got one remote worker or your entire team is distributed, helping them embrace your company culture can mean the difference between having truly engaged employees and those just in it for the paycheck. Consider adopting the following tips to make your remote workers truly part of your team.

1. Educate Remote Workers on Details - When you hire new in-house employees, you likely spend some time ramping them up – you introduce them around, explain who they’ll be working with, what hours everyone keeps, etc. When doing the same with your remote team members, don’t forget to fill them in on the details that local employees figure out on their own: which folks prefer to be contacted by email instead of phone calls, how open the “open door” policy really is, when their coworkers are heading on vacation, etc. These types of things can affect your remote worker’s productivity and how they are perceived by your local team. Taking the initiative to educate your remote folks about these “little things” can make them feel like they are truly a part of your team, even when they’re miles away.

teamwork2. Remote Team Meetings – Your team meets once a week to go over progress, plans and priorities – where are your remote workers? If you haven’t invited them to these regular meetings, you might be missing out on their perspective and expertise. Being left out of team meetings might also make your remote worker feel aliented and isolated, and turns you into a traffic cop for information travelling between the local staff and the remote team members. While you may not need them on the line for every meeting, carefully consider when topics invloving their projects are on the agenda, and include them!

3. Happy Holidays Apply to All - If your company hosts a holiday party, be sure to invite your remote team members. Even if there’s no way they can attend, the invitation itself speaks volumes about how you value the relationships with your remote staff. Does everyone in the office get company-branded shwag from the boss? Your remote team should too. Likewise for the minor celebrations – if your team kicks off the weekend with a happy hour every Friday, let the remote workers know why everyone’s offline at 4pm. Invite them to start their weekend early too, even if they can’t join you for a brew.

4. Initiate Casual Checkups - How often do you check in with your in-house team? Beyond scheduled meetings, it’s likely that you stop by their cubicles or pop your head into their offices every once in a while just to ask “what’s up?”. These casual conversations give your employees the chance to share things with you in a more relaxed atmosphere, one that lends itself to relationship building and trust.  If you don’t already, occasionally call or IM your remote staff to check in and make sure everything is on track in their world. While they may not have time to talk, they’ll likely appreciate the interest – and you may find out clues to their daily worklife that will help you manage them better.

hands in center

5. Nice Bosses Finish First – Day to day pleasantries are the norm in most office environments. You say “good morning” when someone walks past your desk on their way into work. You thank staff for their time in meetings. You wish people a good evening as they are headed home for the night. When your communication with remote staff relies primarily on email and other written communications, it can be easy to forget to exchange these pleasant additions to your conversation. Begin your first email or IM chat of the day with an upbeat greeting, or tell them to have a great weekend before you log off on Friday afternoon. Suggest that your in-house team to do the same. It’s a small courtesy that can bridge distance and help your entire team feel connected.

6. Balanced Gratuities – When recognizing the efforts of your team, don’t forget about the remote workers who contributed to the project’s success. Whether you call them out for praise in front of the larger group, send them a monetary bonus for going above-and-beyond, or simply say ‘thank you’, be equal in showing your gratitude to your remote and in-house staff alike!

Got your own remote team culture challenge? How do you make your remote staff feel integrated into your local team? Let me know in the comments!


Erica Benton brings nearly a decade of experience as a small business owner, freelancer and independent contractor to her position as the editor-in-chief of the oDesk Blog.

Erica Benton

Social Media Guru

Erica Benton joined oDesk in 2009, bringing with her nearly a decade of small business and freelance experience, and a love of all things social. Her passion for startups, technology and marketing was born during her tenure with Kulesa Faul Public Relations, while she learned the art of entrepreneurship firsthand through Equine Alternatives, a business she founded while earning her Bachelor of Science degree from… read more

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  • isah

    very useful, we need to have a team relation in order to get updated to all job progress. This give us the best idea on how our team become more successful in different fields.

  • Cathy Tibbles

    THank you for this. I appreciate the tips on any management related topics, as the freelancers that I’m hiring (& other too I’m sure) are our first foray into being the boss.

    Great ideas that I intend to not forget. Thanks!


  • shohidul islam

    Great source of inspirations. Thanks a lot. Iam looking for a job on odesk

  • Fidelito Iniego

    Diversity, an attitude towards work verifiable

  • shchamon

    Great suggestion
    We get so used to directing rather than being a team player that your advice comes at a good time. Thank you

  • MIchael Tait

    We get so used to directing rather than being a team player that your advice comes at a good time. Thank you

  • Md. Tanjil Islam Bappi

    Great suggestion……. I love it…… Thanks a lot.

  • i am women

    Here are some really good practices for me to follow. I am a new employer here in odesk and I just hired 3 contractors. I will try my best to implement all the tips into my company.

  • pintu sarker

    thnks all of odesk site.

  • pintu sarker

    This is very necessary to me. And good chance to me.

  • Al_sk

    A great deal of effort is needed to create diversity in a workplace.

    Language and Culture
    The langauge and the cultural differences are a reality but both parties have to get to a point where the comfort level is at its best, in other words, if one doesn’t feel comfortable with some employee’s accent or appearance, must understand that it should be dicsussed with the employee and the employee and the management both have to work together to take care of this issue. For instance, English language courses and Self-Grooming is essential to make that person more acceptable among other people of the organization.

    The Ideology
    When companies hire people from the other side of the planet, they have cheap labor on their mind but they totally overlook the unforseen issues they might hav eto deal with that certain person who can hardly speak the business language, having difficulties with communication but when he or she codes, the end-product is excellent and that person remains as an asset to the company.

    The Resistance
    It has also been noticed that the co-workers don’t like to see colored people or they are never trained to work with a diverse group of workforce but since the company directors save alot of money by hiring such people, they don’t care much about how is their staff handling the influx of people who are not from their kind.

    The Stereotype
    The stereotypical jokes and gestures are very common in these workplaces these days and it always happens when the new hire leaves the coffee room after having a conversation with a group of people. Sometimes that person learns from some sources and it makes that person very emotional sometimes. It hurts people’s feelings
    and also it give a bad reputation to the company as well.

    A Suggestive Solution
    People are doing the Lip-Service and the Pen-Service every second– pages are being blackened but it is happening everyday–everywhere.
    Companies must start a program to educate the people about diversity and the multi-culturism which is inevitable in this present world now.
    The more they learn about other cultures, the more they feel comfortable with ethnic work environment and would definitely work towards creating a diverse workforce.

    Something concrete has to be done — since these people work so hard under all types of pressure, resistance and opposition but still they are not accepted among those hwo they are giving them a huge favor over a half a decade.

  • Imiaz Ahmed

    i am looking for a job on odesk