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How to help remote teams feel more engaged and happy

The Young Entrepreneur Council is an invite-only organization composed of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses. Read previous SmartBlogs posts by YEC.

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Q. What’s one way to make a remote team feel more engaged and happy in what they’re doing?

yec_Jonathan Long1. Hold team video conferences

Hold a regular weekly video conference with everyone on your team. This is a great time to acknowledge those who are performing well and make sure everyone on your team is aware that you are paying attention. A simple recognition can go a long way to make them feel appreciated, as well as motivate everyone else to work hard and eventually receive that same acknowledgement. -- Jonathan Long, Market Domination Media

yec_Angela Ruth2. Offer them small perks

Because we have employee socials and other events to engage and motivate local staff, we had to get creative with our remote team so they know we value what they do. These rewards could be a special birthday gift certificate, holiday gift basket, or some other perk that personally appeals to each team member's unique preferences. — Angela Ruth, eCash

yec_Blair Thomas 23. Retreat and meet

One of the ways we inspired camaraderie with our remote team was by organizing a paid company retreat. It gave us all a chance to rub elbows, talk about the future, and bond as a company. We also began arranging weekly one-on-one meetings with critical staff to discuss and help resolve their grievances, communicate personal wins and failures, and generally give them a verbal outlet. — Blair Thomas, EMerchantBroker

yec_Wesley Mathews4. Use technology to your advantage

Three days a week, our small team of remote web designers and developers jumps on Google Hangouts with the rest of our team to discuss company updates, project status, and to simply brainstorm. Just because they're not in the office, they shouldn't feel separate from the rest of the in-office team. Use technology to your advantage to bridge the distance between your teams. — Wesley Mathews, High Level Marketing

yec_Jacob Goldman5. Recognize and reward creativity

Acknowledging and rewarding innovative contributions from individual employees and teams should be a top priority among remote teams. Sharing announcements on outlets like company blogs and social media platforms makes employees feel proud of their work. Organizing annual social meetups for teams and the whole company is also a great way to connect with peers offline and build relationships. — Jacob Goldman, 10up Inc.

yec_Kim Kaupe 36. Send snail mail

Surprises via snail mail are delightful ways to keep team members connected over long distances. Whether everyone is sent the same book or perhaps flowers after a tough task, receiving something thoughtful from colleagues never fails to strengthen bonds. A simple postcard congratulating them on a recent accomplishment will have minimal cost and time implications but will have maximum meaning! — Kim Kaupe, ZinePak

yec_jared brown7. Provide fulfilling work

Thanks to the nature of remote work, job satisfaction depends primarily on the work itself. Provide fulfilling work related to their specialties. Give them avenues to continue learning and developing their skills, and let them own the tasks that they're good at. We make sure everyone on our distributed team is doing work that they care about personally. — Jared Brown, Hubstaff

yec_Diana Goodwin8. Meet them in person

Once a year, our remote team members meet up with the rest of the team based in Toronto. These in-person meet-ups occur over several days and include lots of group working sessions and social events. The first time we did this, the remote team members said they had a renewed energy and felt more connected to the company's mission and team members, which led us to make meet-ups a regular event. — Diana Goodwin, AquaMobile Swim School

yec_Piyush Jain9. Have a monthly virtual conference

Most of my team is remote. To keep them engaged and happy, we conduct a monthly virtual conference on Skype. Everyone talks about their experience, and things going on in their personal lives. Everyone tends to appreciate each other. We do it on last Friday of the month, so everyone has some extra time and stories to share. Many times, it works better than meeting in person. — Piyush Jain, SIMpalm

yec_Heather Holmes10. Host virtual happy hours

Our entire team is remote and we've found that the best way to bring everyone together is to have virtual happy hours. Every Thursday, we hop on video chat with our favorite adult beverages and discuss our long-term goals. It's a fun way to feel connected across time zones and transitions to an online event surprisingly well. — Heather Holmes, TapGenes

yec_Marjorie Adams11. Create a wellness plan

Because our team is completely remote, we have found that a social program is important to engage the introverts and extroverts. We implemented a wellness plan that allows employees to create challenges, be competitive and get out of their desk chair at home. We have a wellness advisor who gives tips weekly on our all-hands meeting and encourages 100 percent participation. — Marjorie Adams, Fourlane