It’s no secret that remote working has become a popular style of work for many members of today’s workforce. Many people enjoy the benefits of remote work, like spending more time at home, creating their own work hours, and selecting their own “office” environment, to be a major draw to certain job opportunities. In fact, LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019 report found that 36% of women and 29% of men consider flexible work arrangements to be a very important consideration when choosing a job.
But flexible work arrangements by themselves aren’t always enough. A 2017 study found that remote employees are more likely to feel left out or isolated than their onsite peers. In addition, when employees work remotely most or all of the time, they can find it hard to mesh with the company culture, which can prove to be detrimental to engagement and morale.
More and more frequently, we hear the phrase “employee engagement”—especially those of us who are managers or organizational leaders. It’s been shown that a sense of employee engagement not only helps with employee morale and general wellness, but also leads to higher worker productivity and overall retention. Maintaining employee engagement is a difficult task in itself, but when a portion of your workforce is remote, it can become even more challenging.
If you have a remote workforce, or are looking to create one at your organization, here are four ways to encourage engagement:
Maintain Effective Channels of Communication
With remote workers, it’s especially important for them to be able to work closely with the entire team, even when they’re not in the same office. One of the most significant challenges that can arise from working remotely is communication, whether it be with a boss, manager, or other team members. In fact, over 20% of people who work remotely have identified communication and collaboration as their greatest struggle.
Luckily, the many technology tools available today can help you and your remote employees stay in sync. By using project management solutions, collaboration platforms, and document sharing tools, like Google Docs or Dropbox, remote teams can work together with ease. The cloud, which fuels many of these popular communication tools, is a vital component for a successful remote workforce. When selecting cloud-based tools, be sure to find one that’s built to run natively in the cloud. Those that are at various states of cloud-readiness, like Infor ERP, may make it more complex to remain connected and integrated across all lines of business.
Promote Regular In-Person Get-Togethers
Although remote teams have many benefits in some areas, real-life interaction is an essential part of making remote workers feel engaged. Whenever there are major company-wide events, such as product launches or holiday parties, try to bring the entire remote workforce to participate. At the same time, you may want to consider setting up a satellite office using a coworking space.
For example, a number of your remote employees may live in the San Francisco Bay Area. Offering them flexible workspace solutions in a centralized location within that region such as Berkeley, California can offer these employees the opportunity to work in-person with some of their colleagues. A coworking space membership in Berkeley can change up their day-to-day scenery, and diminish the isolated feelings that may come with working independently on a regular basis. Allowing your remote employees to work in a face-to-face setting from time-to-time strengthens their connection to the company, makes them feel more a part of the team, and increases the likelihood they stay engaged and communicative with the group.
Be Clear About Employee Expectations
Another big problem that remote workers may face is feeling like they’re not developing their professional skills and becoming better employees. According to a Gallup poll from 2017, remote employees are 30% less likely than in-office employees to strongly agree that they’ve talked to a manager about steps to take to reach their professional goals in the last six months.
As a manager, it’s important to communicate with your remote employees your expectations for them regarding their job functions, performance, and career growth. Be sure to hold regular (virtual) meetings with your remote employees in order to review these expectations and create a goal or plan for the next evaluation meeting. Whether these meetings be quarterly, monthly, or even weekly, your remote employees will appreciate and value the effort you’re putting forth toward their employee experience.
Express Your Appreciation
When a member of your remote team is performing exceptionally well, reaches a major milestone, or expresses some type of behavior worth recognizing, be sure to shout them out and offer praise. Because your remote employees aren’t always in office, chatting about their experiences or successes with other colleagues, it can be easy for their work to go unnoticed.
Sending a company-wide email, making an announcement at an all-staff meeting, or even setting up a video meeting to congratulate them for a job well done can make all the difference in ensuring the employee feels engaged with their work. You may even want to try employee recognition software, like Blueboard, which provides your employees with experiential-based recognition and incentives.
Increasing engagement can have a significantly positive impact on your business, especially as more businesses move toward remote working styles. Be sure to try out the above engagement strategies to ensure your remote team feels less isolated and more connected to your company. After all, an engaged workforce is one that’s happy, productive, and committed to your organization and its mission.
If you’re part of a remote team and are looking for a space to collaborate and work together, join one of our coworking communities. Find a location near you.