March 24, 2020

Using Social Media to Build Community for Remote Workers

As we know, remote workers are playing an increasing role in many businesses. Allowing professionals to work from outside the office can give your company much needed flexibility. You can hire people from all over the world. You can also work with freelancers and independent contractors for specific projects. There can be one potential drawback to this approach, however. Remote workers may not feel as closely connected to the workplace as those who work in the office. How can you create a sense of community for such people?

The opportunity to work remotely is a fairly new phenomenon. At the same time, it’s rapidly becoming part of the new normal. One of the main challenges for remote workers is a feeling of separation from the workplace. One study found that 70% of remote employees feel left out of the workplace. This can be a serious issue as it can affect job performance. It’s harder to attract and hold onto quality workers if they don’t feel included. Social media can provide you with several solutions.

Acknowledge Your Remote Workers

It’s a basic principle of effective management that praise and acknowledgment go a long way in motivating workers. When it comes to team members who work remotely, you can’t look into their eyes, and tell them when they’ve done a great job. Social media can help to fill this gap. Be sure to include your remote workforce in your social media posts. Take the time to praise individuals and teams for jobs well done. Even a short post can go a long way to letting remote workers that their contributions are appreciated.

You can praise remote workers individually as well as mention their efforts in general team post. Of course, acknowledging workers on social media isn’t a replacement for speaking to them directly such as on the phone and via email. However, it’s also nice to publicly praise them as well.

Start Groups

Groups on Facebook and LinkedIn can be good places for remote workers to socialize. Depending on the size of your business, you may want to set up multiple groups for different departments. There are several benefits to work-related groups.

  • A closed Facebook group can be a digital clubhouse where remote workers can meet one another and interact. They can connect with team members they already know as well as others they wouldn’t have otherwise met. Aside from leaving posts in the group, they can easily connect via Facebook Messenger.
  • An open Facebook group is a general group that can include both remote and in-house workers. This helps those who work outside feel like they’re part of the wider community.
  • Create a LinkedIn group. If you’re a B2B company, you’re probably active on LinkedIn. An employee group gives remote workers another place to communicate.

Before starting a group, consider the demographics of your workers. Which sites do they use most frequently? This will depend on factors such as their age and location. It also depends on your own business and branding.  As with marketing strategies, you can do a certain amount of testing and tracking with your community-building efforts. For example, if you’ve set up a few groups and one of them isn’t getting much attention you might dismantle it.

Use Workplace by Facebook

You may be using one or more collaborative tools for managing remote teams such as Slack, Trello, Zoom, or similar software. Facebook has its own collaborative platform called Workplace. It has features such as:

  • Messaging
  • An internal newsfeed for company-related updates
  • Collaborative space for teams
  • Broadcast live videos to provide the latest information to team members

Workplace from Facebook can be useful for any company but is especially useful to connect with remote team members. Using this platform can provide a more seamless experience if your professionals also connect using Messenger and perhaps in a Facebook group. Workplace includes both work and social functions so it can help remote workers feel more in the loop.

Set Rules and Parameters for Social Media

There are potential pitfalls when using social media for communication. Unlike internal company tools, there’s always a chance that messages may be broadcast beyond the appropriate channels. You need to set clear rules for your professionals, including those who work remotely. This includes:

  • Set clear rules for sharing sensitive or proprietary information. A team working on a project should only share information dealing with specifics in a closed group and not on public social media posts or groups.
  • Make sure everyone knows when social media is and isn’t the right channel. For example, you may prefer to handle work-related tasks through a platform such as Slack and confine social media for socializing. You can set up policies that are appropriate for your needs. What’s important is that everyone is aware of when to use which channel.
  • Clarify your social media policy for personal social media accounts and make sure your remote workforce is aware of this. People working away from the office may casually post about work and mention certain people or projects. Many companies find that it’s best to encourage a policy of separating work and personal accounts.

Benefits of Social Media for Remote Workers

When remote workers make the most of social media it can be beneficial to both themselves and your company.

  • They can stay up-to-date on important company news. While there are other channels that can keep everyone informed, social media is a convenient and popular way to share information.
  • They can widen their social circle and connect with other remote workers as well as those who work in the office. Social media serves as an equalizer as everyone, regardless of work status, can participate.
  • Social media channels can be used for team members to stay in touch and share information about projects on which they’re collaborating. Once again, this depends if you choose to let people communicate about work matters on social sites.

It’s extremely important to build a sense of community in your remote workforce. When people feel like valued team members, they are more likely to perform at their best. Social media is useful in that it can be used for both socializing and professional purposes. Tailor your strategy for your company’s needs but make sure you give your remote workers as many ways as possible to feel included.

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