The number of remote employees in the workforce has increased dramatically in the past two decades. If your workforce includes remote team members, then you probably have experienced the challenge of keeping these members engaged. Though there are many benefits to telecommuting, it’s harder for remote employees to feel a part of the team when they are working in an isolated environment away from the community environment of an office.
Engagement remains a vital factor in employee satisfaction and retention, so it’s important for employers to make sure all of their employees feel valued and plugged into the organization.
Employee engagement ideas for remote workers
There are so many benefits to working remotely, including decreased commute, flexibility and, in most cases, improved productivity. But a number of remote workers also express struggles with loneliness, as working remotely isolates them from the rest of their team. While this is a definite drawback, a number of strategies can be put into place to help engage remote employees and allow them to feel more connected to their team members.
Respect their autonomy
It’s important to note that if a remote workforce is new to your company, it may be tempting to initially micromanage off-site employees. But it’s important to treat them the same as your non-remote workers so they feel that they play an equal role on the team. Employers can respect the autonomy of their telecommuters by trying some of the following:
Focus more on what they accomplish than on when they accomplish it. It shouldn’t matter if an employee happens to work better in the evenings or late at night (with the exception of client-facing tasks and deadlines, of course)
Don’t schedule unnecessary meetings. Respect their time
Avoid constant check-ins, provided they accomplish goals and tasks on time
Trust your remote employees just as you would your on-site staff; just because you don’t see them every day doesn’t mean they’re not completing their work.
Keep them up-to-date on company matters
Being out of the office makes it challenging for remote employees to feel part of the company culture. As an employer or manager, you can offset this by making sure your remote team is kept in the loop. There are many communication tools to help with this, such as Slack, Zoom or Skype. Being able to communicate with coworkers in real time helps replicate an office environment.
A regularly published newsletter is another great option for keeping all employees up-to-date on company news and events, as well as coworkers’ accomplishments. Make sure you recognize remote employees as often as in-house employees for their good work. It is vital to acknowledge their contributions so they know you value them as team members.
And for new hires, consider assigning them a mentor for their first six months, or during the onboarding process. This will help them feel connected, gives them a senior go-to employee with whom to engage and can promote faster learning.
Let them know you prioritize engagement
Managers and HR personnel should communicate to employees that engagement is a priority for the organization. An important aspect of this is welcoming feedback and suggestions. Let team members know you are open to implementing new tools and programs to maintain positive morale and improve remote work processes and policies. When remote workers know that their needs are important to their employer, they are more likely to be engaged in the company and the work they do.
Some excellent ways for organizations to show their dedication to employee engagement include:
Setting and tracking engagement goals
Providing feedback channels and responding to messages in a timely manner
Offering training and professional development programs
Investing in an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and letting employees know it is there as a resource for their personal and professional growth
While managing a team of remote employees has its challenges, the right tools and strategies can make these employees feel just as much a part of the team as their coworkers in the office. As a manager or employer, you shouldn’t focus on their status as a telecommuter. Instead, work to make sure they are recognized as a vital part of the team. Letting them know you value their contributions and providing responsive feedback channels will go a long way in increasing their engagement.
Help your remote employees feel more connected
In order for your company to experience the full benefits of employing a remote staff, it’s crucial to prioritize their engagement and involvement in the company. Keeping them looped into on-goings in the company, as well as trusting them to meet deadlines and complete projects are just a few ways to help your remote staff feel connected to their workplace.