Remote working has certainly become mainstream and will likely become even more popular over time. As workers and employers both embrace remote working as the new normal, they are really seeing the benefits of this arrangement.
Remote workers tend to be happier, more engaged, and more productive. Additionally, recruiting teams can use the availability of remote work as part of their employer marketing efforts. This approach helps them attract and retain a better workforce.
However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t challenges to overcome. Most employers are still new to remote working, as are most employees. It’s natural to worry about keeping your staff happy and engaged when they’re not around the office on a regular basis.
Why is the engagement of remote workers important?
Engaging remote workers is important because it helps you retain the right employees and creates a culture that fosters ownership and innovation.
The good news is that telecommuters feel more engaged at work than their counterparts on the job. The bad news is that despite this, very few intend to stay with their employer for the long term.
Strategies for increasing engagement with remote workers include:
1. Encourage meaningful social interaction
This approach is a strategy that borders on controversy. Some remote workers find the idea of happy hours, quiz nights, virtual game nights, and other team-building activities absolutely appalling. In fact, avoiding these things is one of their main reasons for adopting remote working.
At the same time, many remote workers cite loneliness and isolation as real issues for them. They enjoy the benefits of working remotely, but lack the connection of an office environment.
The best solution is to organize events that allow employees to interact with each other in social situations, while avoiding any pressure to attend. Many workers will be happy to participate. Others will be grateful to have an invitation to reject.
2. Make an effort to collect feedback from remote workers
It’s not always easy for teleworkers to share their thoughts on the culture of the workplace and how satisfied they are with their current job. You need to be proactive and collect information through employee surveys to make sure you really understand the sentiment of remote workers. This tactic will give you great insight into how workers are feeling.
Don’t forget to give your opinion as well. Remote workers need your guidance and access to opportunities to improve their performance.
3. Share news and knowledge
In an organization, information is power. Keep remote workers up to date with team and company news, project updates, progress towards goals, and more.
Remember that there is a lot of key information that is communicated through informal interactions, break room and water cooler. Since remote workers cannot participate in these conversations, they may feel disconnected.
Consider using an online platform for goal setting, project management, and communication. A platform like Slack has great potential for integration. This approach will help all workers stay connected and feel like part of the communication loop.
4. Give workers the resources they need
Do you offer your remote workers the same resources as those offered to current employees? It starts with making sure they have the technology they need, like company-supplied laptops, but there’s more to it.
What about training courses and seminars? Do you offer the same opportunities online as you do in person? Do your teleworkers have access to a workspace where they can be productive?
The truth is, you are probably saving money on the cost of office space by having workers work remotely. Consider reinvesting some of that money by reimbursing workers for coworking spaces or home internet upgrades.
5. Offer hybrid options
The benefits of working remotely are widely emphasized, and rightly so. However, the most engaged employees tend to be those who work from home and office. This hybrid option allows people to enjoy the flexibility of working remotely and maintaining in-person connections.
6. Maximize your use of technology
Technology won’t solve all the problems remote workers face, but it can certainly eliminate some of the frustrations. Use technology to communicate, share files, and keep everyone on the same page.
For live meetings, select a video conferencing technology that allows telecommuters to participate. If this software has features like file sharing, breakout rooms, and private messaging, even better.
7. Respect the limits
Teleworkers often make the mistake of blurring the line between professional and private life. They are less likely to take breaks, more likely to register and work in the evenings, and tend to feel more guilty about taking time off.
Unfortunately, managers can unintentionally add to this. Make sure you are respectful of their free time and their need for flexibility.
8. Provide meaningful recognition
Remote workers often work longer hours but often feel their contributions are not appreciated. Make a dedicated effort to provide them with the recognition they deserve. You can solve this problem by using employee celebrations to recognize their work successes and life events.
9. Hiring of remote employees on board
When your existing employees go remotely, they have the benefit of understanding your current processes and procedures. What about new recruits remotely? Do you bring them into the organization with the tools they need to be successful? Consider creating a distance integration program to help them get off to a good start.
10. Be flexible
People want to work remotely because it gives them flexibility and autonomy. If you constantly interfere and demand that they follow a strict schedule, you will lose their commitment. It is the same with micromanagement.
Instead, give remote workers as much control over their schedules as possible. Focus on deliverables, not how or when they get the job done, and deal with failures as they arise. Ultimately, workers will create work models that allow them to be the most productive.