How to Keep Remote Workers Engaged

How to Keep Remote Workers Engaged

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It’s hard to really put in to words the impact the internet has had on or society, but perhaps one place to start is to call upon the way it’s transformed the work place. Emails and messaging platforms help us exchange information in mere seconds, documents and contracts can be shared with workers and clients with the click of a button, and company leaders can dial into hear and often see each other, even if they’re miles and miles away. The ever-evolving nature of technology has also lead to a fairly new phenomenon – the remote worker. 

 According to a recent poll, 43 percent of workers report that they have worked remotely at least part of the time in 2016, and that trend continues to grow. 

 Though there are plenty of people out there who see this increase as problematic, many argue that remote workers are more efficient and productive, all while having less stress and a higher morale. 

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The problem of course is that it’s not always easy to engage remote workers the same way that you would engage those that call the office home 40 hours (or more, as we all know) a week. However, remote work doesn’t spell an end for engagement. Instead, when done right, remote employees can be highly engaged and valuable assets to your business. 

 If you are considering hiring remote workers, or you already extend that opportunity, here are a few ways that you can create an engaging and productive work environment regardless of office location.

Use Video Chat

I’ve had the opportunity to work with companies that did and did not use video chat, and I can honestly, say that I was much more connected with those that did – I felt like I was part of the team as opposed to a hermit in my office in my home office. 

Video chat is essential to keeping remote workers engaged. The ability to see a person’s face (or for them to see yours) allows for the important exchange of non-verbal communication. The absence of that ability means that your remote employee risks becoming just another chat handle. A faceless, disembodied entity. 

Video chat also requires a heightened level of engagement and responsibility. Voice calls and text messages can be taken or sent from anywhere, and that includes the bed, the grocery store, or on the morning commute. And while that availability can be helpful, it doesn’t always lend itself to the notion of accountability or focus. Video chatting requires that your employees be ready to discuss and focus on the issues at hand. 

Hold Meetings 

 We all know that too many meetings can be a bad thing, but for remote workers, a regular standing meeting keeps the in the loop and up-to-date on conversations that otherwise may take place in passing or during ad hoc meetings throughout the day. 

A standing meeting, even if it just to check in and chat, allows employees, remote ones included, to develop a rapport with each other. The first or last few minutes of a meeting, which often includes some general chit chat, can be a great way to develop relationships with remote workers that extend just a little extra past the daily grind (think virtual water cooler). 

Encourage Regular Office Visits 

Many employees choose to work remote because it fits in with their personal and professional goals. In today’s hectic world, that very opportunity can be exactly what a highly motivated and well educated employee needs to be extremely productive. However, that doesn’t mean that should be completely exempt from coming to the office. 

A quarterly visit offers enough face time to keep them involved, build relationships with other coworkers, and get a healthy dose of company culture. All of these things can reinvigorate work ethic and promote team unity. 

Use a Project Management Program

The value of a project management program isn’t limited to remote work; most companies can benefit from centralizing project communications. However, when used consistently, project management systems can offer remote workers a continuous line in, keeping them up-to-date on all relevant items, some of which may not be otherwise communicated beyond face-to-face interaction.

Recognize Achievement

“Out of sight, out of mind” can be a big downfall for remote employees, and over a period of time, it can often seem like their inability to interact in person makes them, and their work, invisible. Unfortunately, when that happens, morale starts to dip, and as any manager or director knows, an unhappy worker is an unproductive worker. 

By taking the time to recognize a job well done, you can further connect the employee with the company, showing that their worth is not being overlooked just because they aren’t in the office.  

Host Team Building Events

Requiring the occasional office visit can go a long way to helping remote workers become part of the team, and hence keeping them engaged; however, a team building event can further achieve that by allowing work relationships to extend past simple project pleasantries. Team building events can encourage engagement, trust, and cooperation, something that is vital to all teams and essential to a healthy remote employee relationship. 

Welcoming remote workers into your company culture can be a great way to find highly motivated and skilled employees anywhere in the world. Though many owners find the addition of work-from-home positions to be a positive one, a remote workforce comes with its own set of unique challenges. However, with the right plan in place, you can capitalize on the opportunity technology has provided and keep all your employees, in or out of the “office” engaged and productive.

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  • Thanks for the informative article, Constance! As most managers know, team building activities are useful for improving team dynamics, building trust, facilitating communication, and boosting teamwork.