Remote work has been on the rise for several years now and in all probability it will grow further. With businesses and their employees gradually settling into the new normal mode, several people are realizing the benefits of performing virtual work and there is no surprise to it. These remote workers are more likely to be engaged, productive, and happy.
In addition to that, the businesses that are offering flexible and remote work options are becoming a more attractive workplace for the top talent. Due to this, various businesses are landing and retaining a competitive workforce even when they hire internationally. However, managing such a workforce is not always easy. Here are some strategies for engaging remote employees.
1. Stay connected with them by using technology
Keep remote employees in a connected mode by using effective communication techniques and by using the technology strategically. For instance, you can use different tools for streamlining communication with the employees and project management between groups to keep everyone on the same page.
Encourage the team members to use Cloud services for file sharing and for increasing the seamless efforts from all members of the team. You can also take advantage of video conferencing. Digital and email chats are great methods for keeping in touch while face-to-face communication helps your virtual team feel like being in the office.
For instance, you can use Zoom breakout rooms for smaller group discussions, where employees would feel more comfortable and grow closer to one another. Or you could think of simple yet fun activities to do after the end of a busy week. You could all have drinks together via Zoom. Virtual meetings can feel like real ones if you add the element of drinks and food there. Bonus point if you accompany such an evening with pleasant heartfelt conversations.
2. Encourage social interaction
Although there are many benefits associated with remote work the biggest drawback to the method is that the employees have to face loneliness. You need to keep the remote employees engaged by encouraging contact, especially with team members via video chats, social hours, and other team-building activities. You can assign people to mentor the new employees so that they have someone they can go to for any needs and get oriented in the company in their first year. Plan for company in-person outings and retreats for strengthening these new connections.
You may go even further by suggesting shared activities that can be done online and the possibilities are truly endless. You could play online games, such as solving a puzzle together. Puzzles usually take a lot of time and during this quality time together remote employees get the chance to have fun with other people.
For the workers who are not interested in games, you can present other ideas that suit them more. They might want to join an online yoga group together where they get to release the stress of work. Another fun idea could be learning how to cook together, either by watching some tutorials on Youtube or by sharing recipes and cooking tips with one another. If they hesitate to do so, then have the option of merely enjoying a virtual meal via video chatting.
3. Show that you care
Develop meaningful relationships with these remote employees and permit them to create a balance. You must respect the time they spend by setting up healthy boundaries across the assignments, schedule, and performance expectations. Find time to talk to them about:
Their families and life away from work. Try to remember the names of their children or other family members and ask questions on how they are doing.
Personal hobbies. Pay attention to their hobbies and passion and ask genuine questions about them. For example one of your workers is a film addict, so you can ask them for movie suggestions or someone else could be really into sports and you could invite them to a game.
Stress, mental health, and emotional health. It would be a thoughtful gesture if you send care packages to your worker’s home and check up on them from time to time. It would also be nice to send personal cards as a way of showing that you keep them in your thoughts.
The workloads for helping them avoid burnouts. Truly listen to their concerns and take them into consideration. Make them feel comfortable in expressing their complaints to you and try to help them in overcoming unnecessary stress and anxiety.
4. Ask for their feedback and listen to it
Communicate your actions with the employees especially when you are taking an action or when you are not taking action about the feedback they have provided. This will allow them to feel that they have been heard and their opinion has value. If the employees feel valued they are more likely to feel happier and are more likely to be engaged at work. Do not hesitate to provide constructive feedback. Help the remote workers in taking advantage of various development opportunities.
In addition, you can sometimes include them in decision making or ask for their ideas for future projects. Allow them the freedom to express their creativity and use it for the overall benefit of the company.
5. Keep them in the loop
It is significant to maintain the remote workers updated about the team progress, projects, goals, and company news. As a lot of information around the business gets circulated through chats across the desk and water cooler talk there is every possibility that the remote employees are left out from the loop and are feeling disconnected. The goal-setting should be employee-friendly and the tracking system must provide everyone access to the company goals, newer projects, and progress updates. Always check-in with the remote employees for team meetings and one-on-ones. This provides an opportunity for everyone to touch base and keep a finger on the company pulse.
6. Provide them the tools needed for success
Making sure that the employees are confident, and are empowered to provide their better work no matter where they are working from, is the key to improve their performance and engagement. It may be a veteran employee or a new hire, ensure that the remote team has all the requisite tools along with the necessary training for getting the job done.
These resources do not just mean hardware or other equipment required such as laptops or cell phones. Consider if the employee has a place at home to work effectively. You can also get creative and offer stipends for a combined working area for employees that cannot have an office at home. You might think of covering the costs of sending the employees to professional development courses and business conferences.
Most importantly, treat them with warmth and kindness as feeling good emotionally is crucial for remote workers, or anyone for that matter, to perform well in their work.
Remote work is slowly becoming the new normal therefore it is important to think more about it. It is not easy to keep your workers engaged when they are not physically in the same room with you or even one another. Loneliness and laziness can easily show up in such cases. To prevent this you need to take the right measurements that will help with work productivity.
These were some steps that have proven effective, the main ones revolving around keeping virtual connections with your employees, encouraging social interaction, and caring about their physical, mental, and emotional health. Another key point would be to include them in decision making and truly listening to them. If companies follow these simplistic yet crucial steps, their remote workers will undoubtedly perform better.