Your remote workers have the potential to be the most productive segment of your workforce. A two-year study by Great Place to Work, which included 800,000 employees at Fortune500 companies, found productivity remained stable or increased with remote work. However, as with your in-office workers, productivity depends on how well your remote workers are engaged. To keep remote workers engaged, you need to make a few adjustments to your approach.
Sometimes remote workers risk losing their commitment to the company’s goals and even their jobs because of their solitary work environment and lack of interaction with coworkers and management. According to a 2019 study on remote work, many workers reported they struggle with loneliness (19%) and communication (17%).
Despite the perception some have that remote workers are happily sitting poolside with their laptops, statistics about their capacity for loneliness and lacking connection to co-workers show remote workers need their psychological needs supported before they interfere with productivity. Even worse, their disconnect from work results in an expensive search for their replacement if they vacate the position.
Remote work is becoming more acceptable and attractive to highly talented job seekers. Keep them engaged and productive with these strategies.
Because your remote workers don’t benefit socially from chatting with coworkers at the office, you need communication tools to keep everyone connected. Solutions such as Zoom, Slack, and Trello are effective ways to ensure everyone can stay in touch. In addition, cloud-based file sharing helps streamline project management across coworkers.
Encourage your remote workers to use video conferencing regularly in addition to emails and messaging. Video tools are essential for encouraging cohesiveness when you have a mix of in-office and remote workers. The goal is to help everyone feel they are an equal part of the team no matter where they are present.
Interacting with employees in an office setting goes a long way in allowing you to learn more about their lives. However, the lives of remote workers can remain a mystery if managers don’t make time for these interactions during calls or meetings. Simply asking about a team member’s weekend plans can significantly impact their engagement.
Also, acknowledge their boundaries and need for balance between their personal and work lives. A 2019 study by Remote.co found that 40% of remote workers surveyed had difficulty unplugging after the workday. You don’t want to see anyone suffer from work-related burnout. Informally ask them about their workload, stress levels, and health to show you care about their emotional needs.
Your remote workers are likely working more hours than those in the office. According to a 2019 study by Owl Labs, remote employees reported working more than 40 hours per week, 43% more than their on-site peers do.
Still, they may have difficulty feeling like actual members of the team. Implement a rewards program that makes recognition a part of everyone’s work environment. Managers can drive up remote employee engagement by sending rewards in real time as recognition for a job well done.
Since many remote workers can struggle with loneliness, you should foster their connections to the team and each other with video conferencing and virtual social time. Plan in-person retreats so team members can meet and build relationships. In addition, remote new hires should partner with someone they can lean on during their first year for questions and encouragement. For example, introduce them on their first day to a team member who can show them around and provide information outside formal training.
In or out of the office, healthy workers are more productive. Encourage good lifestyle habits like getting fresh air, exercise, or cooking meals instead of getting takeout using incentives. At Tango Card, we offer themed gift cards like Amazon’s Health and Wellness Voucher and Athleta as wellness incentives. Getting your remote and in-office team members to participate will help them bond, and you’ll also show your staff you care about their health.
Don’t expect team members to know how to communicate across time zones and countries. Set expectations for using communication tools and post everyone’s availability. Show your employees how to use profile settings and statuses so their current location is available.
While we recommend interacting with your remote workers on a daily basis, make sure you also recognize their achievements and hard work. Rewards regularly sent as a form of positive and purposeful feedback is an excellent way to propel employee engagement with remote workers. Remember their special days like birthdays and work anniversaries with a card signed by the in-office staff and a, if appropriate, small gift such as work anniversary gifts. This will show them that they are valued members of the team and help to build stronger bonds between remote workers and their in-office colleagues.
A 2022 survey from Goodhire reported that most managers prefer overseeing employees in the office, with 77% saying consequences are waiting for those who opt for remote work if given a choice. However, the same survey found that 73% felt that engagement improved or remained the same with their remote workers. The gap in expectations may come from a system of micromanaging.
Ask yourself if a less hands-on approach would inspire the best performance levels by making everyone accountable for setting and meeting their goals instead of monitoring every task. Keep remote workers informed about company news and events, too, as if they’re in the office. Finally, make public announcements when you recognize and reward them so everyone feels connected and valued.
Along with check-ins and regularly recognizing your remote workers, provide a way for them to give feedback on work processes and strategies. Of course, you can ask them directly, but you’ll often get the most honest answers with a survey. A simple questionnaire sent to the entire team will give you actionable insights backed by data while strengthening two-way communication and making your remote workers know their input is valued.
Keep your remote employees engaged by making them feel a part of your in-office team. Setting expectations, respecting boundaries, and consistently acknowledging excellent work is vital for company culture and your remote workers.
Your remote employees will reward you with loyalty and enthusiasm for their work. A public thank-you and a token of your appreciation can inspire a highly productive team no matter where they are. The more visible the recognition is, the more valuable it is.
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