How to Keep Remote Employees Engaged
4 Minute Read
Telecommuting…sounds like something from the future. However, it is one of the most challenging issues for businesses today. Employees want flexible work schedules and work hours. And many companies are trying to make it a priority and allow employees to work remotely. Some have even gone as far as hiring full remote teams that work in different states across the country.
Having remote employees can be a benefit to both the employee and the company. The employee finds harmony by being able to have a professional career, as well as more time for activities outside of work. They have the choice to work for an organization halfway across the country, giving them unlimited possibilities. The company can benefit from this as well. It reduces overhead costs and they are able to have access to more talent that otherwise may not have been an option to them. And technology has given us this alternative; it’s a beautiful thing. But as with all new things, there are some obstacles to overcome, such as how to keep remote employees engaged.
A recent Gallup article provides us with a staggering statistic: “54% of office workers say they’d leave their job for one that offers flexible work time.” That benefit alone drives engagement and performance. In fact, the same article states that employees who work remotely 3-4 days per week are the most engaged. And research shows that companies with highly-engaged employees see better results.
“54% of office workers say they’d leave their job for one that offers flexible work time.”
Here’s the caveat: unfortunately, simply allowing employees to work remotely isn’t enough; the tactics you use to keep employees engaged must also change. It’s no longer a one-size-fits-all solution. Therein lies the challenge.
How to Keep Remote Employees Engaged:
Step up your communication game.
Email just doesn’t cut it anymore. How many times have you sent out a quick email when you needed something, hoping for an immediate response? Sometimes the recipient’s response time is sufficient, but other times, you can wait days for a simple “yes” or “no” answer. Remote communication should be treated no differently than if you were face-to-face with someone. Schedule weekly calls or FaceTime meetings. Use instant messaging platforms such as Slack, Skype, or Microsoft Teams. And allow employees to text you for quick answers. Whether you’re the remote employee or the one managing the remote employee, the key to this is making sure that people know when you are available, and when you are not. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself searching for information on how to manage interruptions.
Keep your people in the loop.
It’s easy to forget to include someone because you don’t see them every day. But they more than likely need the same information and updates that you need in order to be successful. Collaborating with your remote team all that different; you’ve just got to do it in a different way. Use technology to your advantage. Team projects can be managed on platforms such as Teamwork, SmartSheet, or even Google Docs. Typing in simple updates, comments, or checking off tasks can be enough to keep your team updated and in-the-know. After important meetings, if a remote employee wasn’t in attendance, simply summarize your notes in a quick email; these notes could benefit you as well.
Yes, a big part of managing and keeping remote employees engaged is…you guessed it, employee feedback! Remote employees, as with all other employees, need to know that their work is noticed and appreciated. They need to know that they’re making an important contribution to the company. Shout-outs can come in the form of one-on-one feedback, in weekly video meetings, or in emails that include others to showcase a person’s contributions. Another valuable way to do this is to create a program that allows other employees to give shout-outs or praise to each other. It’s all about being able to celebrate the big wins and the small victories. Take a note from Chatterkick! When receiving their 2019 Sprout Partner of the Year award, they found a way to celebrate in style, even when some employees were halfway across the country.
Bring people together.
Just because an employee is remote does not mean they can’t travel from time to time. If you have a team of people working in different parts of the country, it’s important to bring them together at least once per year. Make it a company tradition, or use it as a motivational tool. It could be a corporate conference, a series of team meetings, or a yearly retreat. The purpose is to allow the team to connect with each other on a more personal level, and get to know the voice at the other end of the phone. Creating team unity will also create engagement and further encourage collaboration.
Remote employees are not in the office or face-to-face with you. You may find that people spend less time around the watercooler and more time in a team chatroom. With new technology, countless tools to help, and endless innovation, employees and organizations now have options. You may have an excellent culture, or may have already established a motivation plan for those in your company. But let’s face it, you can’t work differently and still use the same approach. Keeping your remote employees connected is critical to your company’s success.