4 Ways to Stay In Touch With Your Remote Employees (That Aren’t Email)

4 Ways to Stay In Touch With Your Remote Employees (That Aren’t Email)

sms messaging for business

Usually, most remote workers actually want to find ways to be engaged and enjoy their time spent on your team—good news for you if you’re an HR professional or business leader. It’s fair to say that a lot of employees, however, don’t want another email. Which could spell bad news for you if your main employee communication strategy is email.

Keeping your remote employees happy and motivated doesn’t have to be done primarily through email, though. Getting creative, like using text messaging for business, can help you engage your employees without clogging their inbox.

4 Tools for Chatting With Remote Employees

Emails can often get lost in the shuffle, which is a challenge when managing remote workers who you don’t see regularly in the office. Here are other options for engaging with your employees.

1. Use SMS messaging instead of emails

It can be really frustrating as an HR professional or small business leader to hear your employees say something like, “you never told us!” when you know you sent an email. On the other hand, you can hardly blame people for missing emails in their inbox. We’re so inundated with email these days that it can be difficult to stay on top of everything you need to read.

A strategy that works well for many team leaders is to send business text messages instead of emails. You can schedule automatic text messages to remind employees to sign up for trainings, enroll in benefits, to wish them a happy birthday, or to see how they’re doing. You can even text your remote employees links and track to see if they’ve opened those links. Send links to forms, sign-ups and other important information that you want to convey.

When you’re sending information using a text message, you want to make sure you’re as concise as possible. Of course, it may take you some time to convey all the information you need to, but if you find you’re getting into the three paragraph range, consider ways you can condense the information. Also, make sure you use a text blast service that allows for two-way messaging so you can reply to any questions your employees might directly text you back. In SlickText, you’ll need to make sure your inboxing feature is set to on so you can do this.

Another point that’s worth mentioning regarding SMS blasts is the type of number that you’re using. Various services make use of 10-digit numbers to send text messages which is fine in some cases however these types of numbers are subject to spam filters. This means that some of  your messages may go undelivered to your team. Be sure that you choose a service that can offer a dedicated short code as an option for you to send with. They do come with an additional cost however you can be sure your messages are reaching your employees and in a timely manner.

2. Randomly pair remote employees with each other for chats

Implement a way your remote employees can meet up and chat amongst themselves, whether that’s ultimately through video or a chat window.

You don’t run into each other in the lunchroom as remote employees, so if you want to foster connectivity between team members you’ll have to be intentional about it.

For Slack users, there’s a coffee roulette widget called Donut that’ll randomly pair your members who don’t know each other regularly—every one to four weeks (you choose the pace). Donut will also remind your employees throughout the week that they need to meet!

To help make these informal get togethers less awkward for everyone you could try coming up with a list of conversation starters that employees could use to get to know one another. For the people who aren’t comfortable starting a conversation with someone they don’t know, this could be helpful. Try to get creative with these topics so they go outside the normal bounds of “What’s your work history? Where did you grow up?”

3. Create team challenges that facilitate chatting

A creative way to chat with your employees is through challenges. Here are two ideas to help you create challenges for your team that get them out of their inbox and interacting with each other.

  • For the fitness minded, apps like Stridekick allow you to place employees anywhere in the world on teams together. The app will tally their steps (using a FitBit, Apple Watch, Garmin, smartphone connectivity or manual entry) and you can have teams race to complete the most steps together the quickest, or see which teams amass the most steps over the challenge. Teams can chat within their Stridekick challenge using the company’s business platform MoveSpring
  • Play a game of trivia. Take advantage of SMS messaging for business to set up a quiz that asks your employees trivia questions about the company or other employees. This gets people engaged with each other and with your history and values as a company. You can set up the quiz as a survey in SlickText so it’s sent using our mass texting service. When the quiz is over you can reveal what percentage of people guessed the correct answer. 

4. Survey your remote workers regularly using text or chat

Office small talk is really helpful for business leaders because it’s during that time people often feel comfortable bringing up issues or suggesting ideas for improvement. These informal interactions build culture, and when you’re remote you don’t have them. That’s why it’s a good idea to find ways to regularly survey and poll remote workers. You can do it anonymously if your employees are afraid of their comments negatively impacting their job. Here are some tools you could use.

  • Officevibe has polls and open-ended questions. The widget integrates with Slack.
  • Send surveys via text message. Setting up an automated text survey that asks your employees for a numeric response, multiple choice or open-ended questions is an efficient way to get their feedback. You can announce a prize such as a gift card to an online retailer as an incentive to get employees to respond and finish the survey. This video can show you how to set up a text to vote survey to stay in touch with your remote employees. You can also find step-by-step instructions for setting up the text-to-win component.

Incorporate new tools like SMS messaging for business

Some of the ideas and tools on this list might be new to you. But getting outside your comfort zone and experimenting with unique approaches to connectivity could help you create a culture that attracts new employees and helps your current ones want to stick around.