How to Keep Remote Employees Engaged
For anyone who manages a remote team, part of the job entails finding creative ways to engage remote employees.
Ideally, employees should feel just as part of the team as workers who come into the office — because they are. These employees may not be able to chat with their colleagues around the water cooler, but they can still be interested in their work, communicate effectively and feel positive about their contributions to the company.
1. Create a Company Culture of Connectedness
Employees often feel as though they belong to the group of people they work with. Managers should set the tone of a welcoming workplace that recognizes all employees.
One way to encourage employees to be authentic is simple:
take a bit of time at the start of a meeting (i.e. while waiting for someone to join the call) to have some casual conversation. Simple ways for co-workers to get to know each other on a more personal basis lead to more understanding of events happening in each other’s lives regardless of location.
2. Host Virtual Classes and Events
Hosting activities to engage remote employees can also help. Each team is as unique as the people who are in it. What works for one group may fall flat with another one.
Some groups will enjoy participating in trivia games or online treasure hunts, while others will enjoy virtual cooking classes, painting, learning how to care for plants, or sharing their love of books. Another employee engagement idea for remote employees is to
bring in a singer or comedian to perform virtually for your team. This is a good way to raise everyone’s spirits if the team has been feeling low or to celebrate reaching a goal.
3. Ensure Team Members Access an Up-To-Date Company Intranet
Another best practice for engaging remote employees is to ensure that
all team members have access to and participate on the intranet since it is the main internal communication method for most enterprises. Employees can use it to read company news, find out about their benefits, and participate in communities with co-workers.
An intranet also acts as an online library for company knowledge. If a remote worker has a question or a concern, they can find an answer. Intranet features like messaging can also enable communication to flow smoothly anytime.
LumApps Intranet Platform
4. Communicate Regularly with Remote Employees
Everyone can picture the manager who only interacts with team members when it is time to criticize something about their work.
Instead, managers must make a point of formally checking in with team members regularly and set clear requirements and expectations for tasks.
Encouraging two-way communication so that remote employees can ask for help before a minor setback turns into a large problem is also important. Varying communication channels such as one-on-one chats, video calls, team meetings, and group message boards based on individual style can also lead to better sharing of ideas and feedback.
5. Schedule Virtual Coffee Breaks
In a brick-and-mortar office, people stop by a colleague’s desk and invite them to go for a coffee break.
It’s a good way for co-workers to get to know each other and has been shown to increase employee engagement. How can companies implement this strategy to keep remote employees engaged? Managers can schedule or request virtual coffee breaks!
What is a virtual coffee break? These are short video calls, approximately 15-30 minutes long. During this time, employees get together for casual conversation and to enjoy a cup of coffee. To be successful, a virtual coffee break might be scheduled in advance and be limited to a small group of people so that everyone has a chance to participate.
6. Recognize Employee Achievements
One of the best ways to engage remote employees as well as those who work in the main office is to
recognize them for their work. This strategy boosts individual employee engagement, company loyalty, and productivity. It also leads to higher retention rates.
An easy way to recognize employees for their work is to
create an intranet post to celebrate goals being met and employees who show extraordinary effort.
LumApps Intranet Recognition Center
7. Build Relationships with Remote Employee Engagement Surveys
Do you know what kinds of challenges your remote team members are facing? One of the best ways to learn about them in aggregate is to administer employee engagement surveys regularly. The results will reveal whether any issues need to be addressed. They will also show the areas where a company is doing well regarding remote employees compared to their office counterparts.
The surveys give employees the chance to express themselves openly. They may not feel free to do so during a team meeting or even during a one-on-one chat with their manager. Sending out surveys regularly to keep track of how remote employees feel about their jobs can help managers deal with any issues promptly.
8. Encourage Employees to Pursue Side Projects
Allowing employees to spend a certain amount of their time working on side projects, as long as they align with company goals, is a proven way to boost engagement.
This policy encourages more innovation in business and keeps employees excited about their main roles. Companies like Google allow employees to devote 20% of their time at work toward creating new products outside their function.
Jooble has a similar policy, allowing its workers to use 10% of their time on new projects. Employees have the flexibility to divide this time into four hours each week, two days per month, or 12 days every six months.
Read more: 22 Employee Engagement Ideas and Strategies for Companies
9. Ask Remote Workforce For Feedback
Communication is supposed to be a two-way street.
It’s crucial to listen to employees and ensure that they are heard. Asking remote team members what they think about their schedule, how to reach the goals set for their team, what they think should be done to increase customer satisfaction rates, and more is simple but effective.
10. Give New Hires Additional Training and Support
If a new hire runs into difficulty in the office, they can get help by approaching a co-worker at a nearby desk. The same is not true if a new remote worker has a problem. They may struggle to feel that they are a part of the team.
A few easy steps can make sure that the onboarding process includes additional communication so that new hires feel comfortable. Remote employees should have personalized access to applications and training documents on the company’s intranet immediately, along with the name and contact information of one or more people they can go to with questions or concerns. Managers should also confirm they have all the tools and equipment required to do their job.
11. Make Sure Remote Workers Have the Tools for Success
Remote employees are just like their office counterparts in that they need to focus. Consider asking if they have a home office available where they can work with minimal distractions. If not, consider offering a stipend toward the cost of a co-working space where your employee can focus on their work.
When offering development opportunities to your employees, make sure that remote workers are included. Many courses can be taken online that will benefit your employees and qualify them for more senior positions in their field.
12. Encourage Social Interaction
Working remotely has many benefits for employees. The main drawback remote employees describe, though, is feeling left out or lonely. Draw in your remote team members by including them in video chats and
virtual team-building exercises with your in-house staff.
If possible, plan in-person company get-togethers that your remote employees can attend at least once a year.
This will allow in-house and remote employees to get to know each other personally. It will also strengthen their professional and personal connections.
13. Show Remote Employees Care
It’s important to build good relationships with employees who work at a distance.
Respect their time by ensuring that you check the local time before contacting them for a chat to ensure that you are not interfering with their family life or outside interests. Ask how they are managing their workload and if they are feeling an unusual level of stress. If so, talk about the coping resources available so that the employee can avoid burnout.
Another idea is to send remote workers a care package for their birthday every year. They won’t be in the office to celebrate, but that doesn’t mean their day can’t be remembered with a card and a small gift.
Easy Communication with the LumApps Slack Integration
14. Empower Remote Workers to Make Decisions
One of the best ways to engage remote employees is to
give them the power to make decisions within the sphere of their work. Allowing them to implement their ideas — always keeping their team leaders in the loop — is a great way to improve engagement.
An employee who can do their work with a certain degree of independence will feel more empowered on the job. They will be more satisfied with their work, their co-workers and managers and the employee’s performance at work will reflect this.
15. Offer Opportunities for Career Growth
Remote workers may have concerns that “out of sight means out of mind” when it comes to being considered for advancement within the company. Proactive notifications when positions open up that they might be interested in and other thoughtful alerts can help.
Often, talking to remote employees about their career path within the company is the best approach. Make a plan with the employee to work toward their career goals. Be open about the resources the company can offer in the same way you would with an in-house employee. If someone can see where their hard work is going, they can get excited about their contribution to the business.