One challenge to managing remote workers is that there’s limited face-to-face interactions, and this lack of personal contact can make everyone feel a bit distant. To combat this issue, it’s important to create team-building events that will bond your team of telecommuters. Below are four ways to encourage remote workers to meet in person!

Ways to Get Remote Workers Together

1. Host regional meetings.

Plan meetings for remote workers who live in close vicinity to one another—for example, in a tristate area. Schedule these informal get-togethers every six months or so and make sure you find a meeting location that’s an equal distance for all attendees. Incentivize attendance so your remote workers are more likely to attend on a regular basis by offering a drawing for a great prize or giving attendees corporate gifts. Be sure to designate a facilitator for the meetings so conversation flows, and encourage the use of ice breaker games.

2. Plan an annual gathering or retreat.

There’s no better way for remote workers to meet in person than to gather them all in one location. Hosting an annual retreat allows space and time for team-building exercises, staff recognition, and remote workers to get to know one another on a deeper level.

3. Manage travel schedules.

When a staff member is traveling on business, be sure to allow extra time for them to meet remote coworkers while they’re in the neighborhood. For example, if a staff member is traveling to Houston, be sure to have them meet their remote colleagues who live in Houston. A little extra time in the travel schedule for remote workers to meet in person for coffee or lunch is an ideal way to foster team building.

4. Pair newbies with experienced remote workers.

Match remote workers who live in close proximity to each other. Pairing newbies with experienced remote workers takes this arrangement to the next level and allows remote workers to meet in person on a regular basis.

Bonus Tips: Build Relationships Remotely

Host online get-to-know-you gatherings. 

Several services allow you to meet with a number of remote workers online. These meetings can be visual with the use of computer webcams, allowing remote workers to see each other and put a face with a name. Use this time to connect with remote workers to offer them work-related updates, but also be sure to reserve plenty of time to chat with coworkers in an informal way. This will allow remote workers to feel much more connected.

Use meeting software to host remote lunches or water cooler breaks.

Keeping varying time zones in mind, host online water cooler breaks or brown bag lunch meetings where remote workers can connect and get to know each other better. Keep these meetings to informal chit chat and let the conversation meander.

Foster holiday cheer as another way to connect remote workers.

Host a voluntary cookie bake exchange or Secret Santa gift exchange as a fun way for remote workers to bond.