We’ve been talking a lot about the workforce of the future, but the reality is, distributed and remote teams are already a big part of the current work landscape. According to Inc. Magazine, at least 2.4 million U.S. employees telecommute two or more days each week. And even among employees who spend most of their time in an office, TECHi statistics suggest that more than 90 percent of workers use smartphones and other portable devices to work remotely.

With these numbers in mind, I want to acknowledge the realities—and challenges—of coordinating and managing remote team members and offer up a few strategies for keeping remote workforces connected, motivated and on task.

Face-to-face interactions
While it may seem basic, the simple act of meeting with team members face-to-face can improve morale, promote cooperation and lead to more effective interactions. Since nonverbal cues can help facilitate clearer communication, regular in-person visits can ensure that you and your team are connecting on every level. As Entrepreneur notes, when it comes to increasing motivation and morale, “you’re saying as much with your body as you are with your mouth.”

Positive reinforcement
Offering incentives for teams that produce outstanding results can be a powerful motivating force for remote workers. By basing those incentives on team accomplishments rather than individual performance, you can also reinforce the importance of working as a team to achieve corporate objectives. This positive reinforcement can help promote communication and cooperation among all members of your team—no matter where they’re located.

Focusing on results
Rather than accounting for each hour of time your employees in remote locations work, assess the results they achieve. This is especially effective for workers who have little or no direct supervision. By basing evaluations on results rather than where and when team members do their work, you can more accurately determine the value of each link in your distributed project chain.

Multiple avenues for communication
While face-to-face contact is important in managing teams across long distances, other forms of communication can be just as critical in ensuring productivity and resolving issues as they arise. Encourage messaging, email and conference call applications among members of your remote team and make yourself available to the team for questions, clarifications and guidance in meeting project specifications and deadlines.

What strategies am I missing? What ways have you found to successfully manage distributed teams?