Not being in the same place as a person you regularly interact with can cause a lot of problems. Miscommunication, losing trust, and feeling disconnected because of the separation can lead to the whole relationship crumbling.
On the other hand, if you nurture it appropriately and keep things interesting, it can prosper and benefit both parties involved.
The same goes for remote employees. The distance might seem like an obstacle to the growth of the individual and their contribution to the company. However, when properly included and reminded of their value, they can perform to their full potential.
Collaboration and communication technology have made it possible to work from anywhere. A scattered team might seem disconnected, but that’s only the case when no effort is made to keep remote employees engaged.
Actively engaging remote employees is the responsibility of all team members. Looking for some tips? I thought you’d never ask.
5 tips for engaging remote employees
Keeping remote employees engaged is not easy. Because they are not physically in the office, they can begin feeling isolated and excluded. To avoid that, check out these tips for engaging remote employees to make them feel secure in their role.
How to keep remote employees engaged
Set clear expectations
Take advantage of technology
Be a solid communicator
Engage in water cooler talk
Create a schedule and check-in process
Let's take a closer look at each tip.
1. Set clear expectations
Working remotely is a privilege that should only be given to employees that can handle the freedom.
Whether you are a manager or team member, make sure your remote colleagues know what you expect of them. Remote employees should be just as productive, if not more than they would be if they were in the office. Make this clear from the beginning to avoid problems later on.
2. Take advantage of technology
Remote work is only possible with the right technology. Without it, employees would be waiting for days to receive the information they need in the mail. Not ideal.
Employee intranet is a solution to this issue. It provides a network of communication for all employees, whether they work in the office or remotely, and enables you to condense valuable information and resources in one place.
Employee intranet software offers a private network that is ideal for remote workers. When given access to the company intranet, employees can view the documents they need, collaborate on projects, and communicate with colleagues, no matter where they are.
It is easy to assume the software you’ve always used in-office works for your remote employees and call it a day. Make sure the technology you are using is the best fit. Gather feedback from the remote workers and have them explore their options to make sure everyone is using the best tools possible.
3. Be a solid communicator
Effective communication is necessary when engaging remote employees. Nobody can do their job if they don’t have the information and resources they need, and those things are useless if they aren’t properly communicated.
This communication can happen on a company intranet, but there are other options as well. By talking over the phone, sending emails, or chatting over instant messengers, colleagues can have one-on-one or group conversations from any location.
Opening the appropriate communication channels for remote employees is more important than doing so for those who come into the office every day. Remote employees are not directly a part of the communication taking place in the office. It is crucial that key messages and updates from in-person conversations are somehow relayed to remote workers.
While providing remote workers with information is important, they also have knowledge that is valuable to the team. Make a point to reach out for their input during team meetings. It’s easy to forget when someone is on the other side of a conference call or video chat.
4. Engage in water cooler talk
Think about a typical day in the office. There are plenty of conversations related to work. However, there are also plenty of conversations not related to work.
Don’t forget to engage in casual chit chat with remote employees. While it might not directly contribute to productivity, taking a step back from work to interact on a personal level can boost employee engagement. Not only does it reinforce the company culture, but it also gives employees the refresher they need to put their best work forward.
Include remote employees in silly conversations. They are still a member of your team. Make them a part of the fun.
You can’t walk by the desk of a remote employee to check in on them. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t find another way to stay updated on their work.
Create a standardized check-in process for staying up to date on the progress, questions, and concerns of remote workers. This is especially important when they have different schedules than most of the team. When people start working remotely from other time zones or outside of the typical nine-to-five workday, they are harder to communicate with. Stay on top of their schedules so you aren’t trying to contact them when they are unreachable.
Recognizing the wins of remote employees is important in keeping them engaged. Because they don’t share the same physical space as their colleagues, they can feel isolated and excluded from the celebration of a project’s success. Make a point to recognize the hard work of remote employees.
Professional long distance relationship crisis: averted.
Engaging remote employees is necessary for them to be productive and feel valued. It is every team member’s responsibility to keep them engaged. Ask them for their opinions. Invite them to collaborate on a project. Or simply check in and see how they are doing. A team is a team. Make every member feel that way.
Mary Clare Novak is a Content Marketing Specialist at G2 in Chicago, where she is currently exploring topics related to sales and customer relationship management. In her free time, you can find her doing a crossword puzzle, listening to cover bands, or eating fish tacos. (she/her/hers)