There’s a lot of value in periodically bringing all of your employees together for a team building exercise. When done right, these activities can improve communication, foster cohesion, and bolster morale.

With that said, team building is harder than it used to be, and that’s largely thanks to the phenomenon of remote workers. Simply put, it’s a lot harder to include employees in your group activities when those employees don’t work in the same building—or in some cases, when they don’t even work in the same town!

While it’s challenging, it’s by no means impossible. Let me offer a few specific ways you can include remote employees in team activities.

Team Building Activities

Including Your Remote and Virtual Employees

Start with some small talk. One of the disadvantages of being a remote employee is that you don’t get to participate in everyday small talk, like on-campus employees do. As a leader, you can encourage your virtual employees by building some space into each conference call or video meeting for personal chat. Make it a point to go around to each employee, and especially each remote employee, and ask them something about their family or about how their week is going.

Set up meetings off-site. With Wi-Fi accessibility, it’s easier than ever for your employees to spend an hour or two working outside the office—in a coffee shop, for instance. This can be a good way to include employees who live in the same community but don’t come into the office each day. Set up an afternoon for employees to get together in an external location—somewhere the remote employees can be in the mix!

Assign on-campus employees to work with remote workers. A simple suggestion: If you have a project requiring two people, encourage one in-house person to work alongside a remote employee. Have them get together over Skype or Facetime to work on the assignment together. Simply facilitating these partnerships can be very valuable to building team cohesion!