There are some business owners and managers who might dismiss remote work as just another modern trend, but as I sit in my dining room, writing about how to engage remote employees, I can say firsthand, that’s just not true. For almost two years now, I’ve worked exclusively from my home! And the statistics are in my favor too.
- A Global Workplace Analytics study found that a typical business will annually save around $11,000 per person, just by taking advantage of remote work policies.
- Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report confirmed that about 43% of workers in the United States are working remotely most of the time.
- A Zapier Remote Work Report found that 95% of workers in the United States prefer working remotely, with 74% actually willing to quit their present job role if remote work was available elsewhere. Moreover, 31% want to work remotely, but their company doesn’t allow it.
- Airtasker survey reported that remote employees actually work 1.4 more days per month than the traditional on-site worker which leads to three additional weeks of work per year.
- Whether they work remotely or on-site, 83% of workers say that a remote work opportunity would actually make them feel happier at their job.
- 77% of remote workers say that they’re more productive when working from home.
- Since 2005, remote work has grown by 173% which is actually 11% faster than the rest of the workforce (which grew by 15%).
- Around 62% of employees between the ages of 22 and 65 say that they work remotely at least occasionally.
- If given the opportunity, nearly 99% of all employees would choose to work from home some of the time.
- The amount of people who work from home at least once a week has grown by 400% since 2010.
And the statistics could go on and on and on. But you get the point by now.
In recent months, the shift to remote work became a direct result of a growing pandemic. Is the transition temporary or permanent? Only time will tell.
However, what’s clear is that remote work isn’t a mere perk or company benefit to lure fresh, top talent. And while it might be mandatory for many companies across the globe, for the time being, the question on how to engage remote employees keeps rising.
Whether you’re the type of manager who views remote work as driven by circumstance or is fully embracing the change, when it comes to how engaged your team is, it all rests on your shoulders.
In fact, Gallup reported that 70% of employee engagement is a direct result of great leadership.
As such, managers are the direct cause of either motivation and engagement or frustration in the workplace. Therefore, if you’re really interested in keeping remote employees engaged, you need to come at it from all angles and on a regular basis. Engagement is not a one time task to check off your to-do list. If you treat it as such, your employees will be looking for the exit.
Managing Staff Remotely: The Complete Guide (eBook)
In this free eBook, we highlight everything you need to effectively manage your remote employees. From communication tips to engagement ideas and more, this guide is filled with all the information needed to make remote work a success.
Keep your team feeling valued and connected by regularly implementing the tips we list below.
8 Easy & Creative Ways to Keep Remote Employees Engaged
1. Use the right tools, first and foremost
If your team isn’t using the right tools to communicate and collaborate effectively then you’re already starting off on the wrong foot. The market has a ton of chat and collaboration tools to choose from so managing a robust, productive remote team is a much easier task to take on.
“If you, the manager, don’t create good, open communication channels, the remote worker will feel, well, ‘remote’ and forgotten,” said Keith Ferrazzi, the founder and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight.
Connecteam’s communication app is trusted by thousands of companies worldwide, no matter how big their team is and what industry they’re in. In one place, you have access to team chat, a one-on-one dialogue, real-time updates and channels, an in-app directory, surveys on any matter, a virtual suggestion box, live polls, voice messages, sharing of materials (video, GIFs, pictures, files, etc.), and much more.
In the click of a button, Connecteam makes it easier to simplify communication between team members and helps create a common space where everyone can easily discuss projects, brainstorm, chit chat, and provide valuable feedback.
Seamlessly communicate with your remote team
With Connecteam, you have multiple ways to communicate and engage with your remote employees. From group chat or private chat to feedback surveys to live polls to sharing files to a suggestion box and so much more. Take communication to the next level with Connecteam’s communication tool.
TIP: Use the tool every day, even multiple times a day, to effectively reach every single employee and keep remote employees engaged.
Create an effective communication strategy so you can reach every employee. For example:
- Hold weekly formal “check-ins”
- Establish performance goals for the month, quarter, and year
- Set clear expectations and requirements for tasks
- Channels should be created for each situation such as one-to-one chats, team meetings, video calls, or open forums for sharing of feedback and ideas
- Encourage two-way communication – get feedback on projects, marketing strategy, customer satisfaction, and more.
“To enable your remote staff to be independent and productive, you need to start by effectively communicating your mission, vision, and values in a way that resonates outside of just headquarters. In addition, having regular goals for communication makes it easier (e.g., quarterly check-ins). As a result, they feel like a part of the company culture but succeed autonomously.” – Preethy Vaidyanathan, Tapad
TIP: Treating all communication as two-way will help both parties involved, managers and employees. If you’re the only one “talking” then engagement is non-existent.
3. Watercooler talk is a must
“It is easy to become isolated when working remotely. I reach out to individual team members regularly to solicit opinions on decisions I am making and to just chat about non-work-related things. I also assign collaborative tasks monthly, encouraging team members to work together so they stay connected.” – Lisa Allocca, Red Javelin Communications
When you aren’t following a 9-to-5 workday, chit chat needs to be used to your advantage. It shows that you value socialization and human interaction, and not just number crunching and productivity.
A virtual “watercooler” platform creates a space for your team members to engage with one another that isn’t directly related to work 24/7. Allow your workers to chat as they would in a regular office environment so they can share life updates, talk politics, chat about movies or TV shows, interesting news they found, and anything in-between.
TIP: Show that your company is focused on more than just signing paychecks and exceeding KPIs by regularly engaging in watercooler talk.
4. Use video chat often
“Much of our language is nonverbal. When managers are forced to limit the nonverbal cues available to their direct reports, they increase the chance for miscommunication, defensiveness, and conflict. Managers need to communicate with their teams in multiple ways and through multiple mediums to keep expectations clear, to reinforce priorities, and to help understand and address barriers to maximizing their team’s work while they are away from the office.”
When over half of all human communication is nonverbal, managers need to adjust their strategy to keep remote employees engaged especially when they don’t see them from 9-to-5 five days a week. Measure their reaction to a change in a task, discuss their performance, introduce new policies, or check in on their behavior – a “picture” is worth a thousand words here.
You can tell way more in a video call than by hearing your employee’s voice on a phone call or deciphering a text message.
The second you notice something doesn’t add up, ask your employee. Non-verbal cues can help you solve issues instantly instead of dealing with a Mount Everest disaster down the road.
“Today, so many companies have virtual offices and/or employees working remotely. Create opportunities for employees from all over the country to stay connected. Invest in technology to support video conferencing. Invest in the expense of physically bringing the team together regularly.” – Lori Paikin, NaviStone
TIP: The market is filled with various free and affordable solutions so you have no excuse not to be video chatting. Use tools like Zoom or Skype to stay connected.
5. Establish and build trust
Let’s attack this on two fronts: trusting your managers to manage their remote teams as they see fit and trusting your employees to get the job done.
Going off the first one, allow your managers’ room to embrace risk whenever trying new things. From time to time, they will need to get creative – from holding a conference call outside, creating new procedures, sending care packages, playing team building games and more. Allow your managers the leeway to act however they view best.
And two, trust that your employees are getting the job done. Always make sure that you’re providing feedback to solve issues and problems before they spiral out of control. Keeping remote employees engaged also makes them productive, engaged and motivated to be a top employee.
By providing frequent feedback, you can promptly address issues or challenges that your employees are facing which helps to build trust and offers flexibility. Video calls also add more trust because it can help to receive negative news “face-to-face” instead of via email or a phone call.
Additionally, when dealing with a difficult employee, you must act sooner instead of later. You need to nip negativity in the bud instead of getting blasted with chaos and disruption.
TIP: Trust needs to be woven into your company culture so that you can always be there for your entire team, no matter where there are.
6. Ask for feedback
“CultureIQ reported that 86% of employees felt senior management listened to them in a strong cultural environment, compared to 70% without a great company culture.”
This is why you must listen to your employees and make sure that their voices are heard every step of the way. Ask them for feedback on anything and everything, such as how to meet company goals, improving customer satisfaction, new training ideas, fun activities to do as a team, and more. But don’t just listen to their ideas and opinions, act on the good ones.
Connecteam’s employee app allows you to gain feedback in real-time. Just send a survey, open the suggestion box, or start a live poll.
TIP: Communication must be a two-way street. Just like you need to reach your team, they need to be able to reach you in real-time as well. With a positive company culture and encouragement, your employees will freely share their feedback, thoughts, and ideas. Always acknowledge when an employee shares an idea so they know they’ve been heard and are valued.
7. Give recognition
A paycheck is great, but it’s not the only way you can show your gratitude. Sharing positive feedback, glowing customer reviews, a shout-out when a project goes well, and more – this is magic and goes a long way.
“Being generous with public praise and acknowledgment of remote employees helps make sure their work is recognized and is a signal to coworkers that they’re pulling their weight,” Mark Mortensen, an associate professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD.
Showing your appreciation is a simple, yet effective way, to really motivate and engage your remote employees. Studies show that workers are less motivated by money and are more motivated by the “little things” like the acknowledgment of their ideas and suggestions and suggestions, opportunities to grow, and more responsibility.
TIP: We aren’t saying to stop bonuses or pay very little, but when you pair the monetary benefit with employee recognition, you’re on the path to engaging remote employees each and every day.
8. Team building games and activities
Through team-building activities, you are fostering healthy work relationships which leads to better retention, higher productivity, and better overall employee satisfaction and happiness.
Research has shown that remote workers typically have weaker relationships with their colleagues than those employees who work in-house.
Therefore, it is up to managers to regularly engage in team socializing to help build a human connection and build trust and inclusion with every team member.
TIP: The more involved remote employees are, the more the company culture is positively impacted.
The bottom line on engaging remote employees
When you’re looking into how to engage remote employees and keeping remote employees engaged, remember that it’s a constant task to nurture and develop. Engagement is never a one size fits all approach or something you do once in a blue moon. Keeping remote employees engaged turns them into your best and biggest asset.
Connecteam: one app to manage your remote employees & business
Connecteam is your tool to manage employee engagement, development, and relationship. You can streamline communication, give your employees a platform to be heard, boost engagement, strengthen the company culture, align employees with company policies, streamline daily operations, build professional skills and so much more.Learn more