8 Easy & Creative Ways to Keep Remote Employees Engaged

HR Management
Rea Regan July 13, 2021 13 min read

Quick Guide

    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 three years now, I’ve worked exclusively from my home! And the statistics for remote work 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. 

    follow Conneteam's tips on how to engage remote employees

    Much of the shift to remote work from 2020 onwards was indeed a direct result of the COVID pandemic. But that has evolved now to even more remote work opportunities and even hybrid work conditions. In fact, a recent survey shows that “97% of employees don’t want to return to the office full-time.”

    Additionally, it is crystal clear is that remote work isn’t simply a mere perk or company benefit to bring in fresh, top talent. It’s a necessity for business success. As such, the question of 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 and how to engage remote employees, it all rests on your shoulders. 

    In fact, Gallup reported that 70% of employee engagement is a direct result of great leadership.

    This shows that 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 regularly. Engagement is not a one-time task to check off your to-do list. If you treat it as such, your employees will quickly be looking for the exit. 

    Keep your team feeling valued and connected by regularly implementing the tips we list below. We share eight ways you can keep remote employees engaged instead of wondering how to engage remote employees on a daily basis.

    1. Use the Right Tools

    If your team isn’t using the right tools to communicate and collaborate effectively, you’re already starting 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. Especially if you’re working in a hybrid role or solely remote – it’s critical that communication is streamlined.

    “If you, the manager, don’t create good, open communication channels, the remote worker will feel, well, ‘remote’ and forgotten,” said Keith Ferrazzi of Ferrazzi Greenlight

    Sure, video calls with Zoom or Slack are important for team meetings. Tools like Slack, Asana, or Monday.com can help with project management. But for real communication with your remote team, you need an employee communication app.

    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. 

    Connecteam updates employee engagement
    • Focus on engagement, with features like updates, channels, private or group chat, and share company updates (safety reports, policy changes, etc.) and informal communicaiton (birthday wishes, kudos, customer feedback, team recognition, work anniversaries, etc.)
    • Get feedback from your employees at all turns with live polls, a suggestion box, and surveys. This creates an open door policy and keeps remote employees engaged as they have a direct line to share ideas with HR and management.
    • Create group chats so that communication is a two-way street and everyone can join in. Or send company-wide messages and choose to allow employees to engage with the message with likes and comments or share one-way announcements or content administration for key messages like policy changes. 
    • Don’t just share formal announcements, acknowledge star emplooyees, start an employee of the month poll and celebrate the winner, share birthday wishes, share kudos for a job well done, and more. This is key when engaging remote employees!

    Seamlessly Communicate With Your Remote Team

    In the click of a button, Connecteam simplifies communication between team members and helps create a common space where everyone can discuss projects, brainstorm, chit chat, and provide valuable feedback.

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    TIP: Use the tool every day to effectively reach every single employee and keep your remote employees engaged.

    2. Internal Communication is Essential

    In case we haven’t said it enough, the number one lesson on how to engage remote employees starts and ends with internal communication.

    You must 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
    • Group 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. As a result, they feel like a part of the company culture but succeed autonomously.” – Preethy Vaidyanathan, Tapad 

    TIP: Treating communication as two-way helps both parties – managers and employees. Managers should not be the only ones talking, otherwise, engagement is non-existent.

    3. Watercooler Talk is Encouraged

    “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.” – Lisa Allocca, Red Javelin Communications 

    When you aren’t following a 9-to-5 workday under one roof, chit-chat should be used to your advantage. Why? It shows that you value socialization and human interaction, and not just number crunching and meeting revenue goals.

    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. 

    Have a virtual happy hour every week or once a month, hold team-building games and activities, plan one-on-one video calls with team members, and more.

    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 When Possible

    “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. Video communication allows you to 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 – message them privately or schedule a one-on-one call, don’t call them out in front of everyone. 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 full of free and affordable solutions so you have no excuse not to video chat your remote workers. Zoom and Skype are always good solutions to help you stay connected.

    5. Establish and Build Trust 

    Let’s look at this from two angles: one) trusting your managers to manage their remote teams as they see fit and two) trusting your employees to get the job done.

    Trust in the Workplace Infographic 2
    https://people-equation.com/trust-in-the-workplace-a-scarce-resource/trust-in-the-workplace-infographic-2-2/

    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. Your managers need to manage without being micromanaged. Allow your managers the leeway to act however they view best. You would do the same if you saw each other every day at the office, so apply that same methodology with remote work. (It helps that your managers are looking at keeping remote employees engaged and have the power to act as needed so that you don’t have to wonder yourself how to engage remote employees. One less task for you, the better!)

    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. Keep them updated on what’s going on with the company – like new hires, goals met, positive customer reviews, new policies, team progress, etc. This ensures that your team doesn’t feel like they’re out of the loop.

    Keeping remote employees engaged also makes them productive, engaged, and motivated to be a top employee. 

    By providing frequent feedback and engaging in chit-chat, you can promptly address issues or challenges that your employees face and help boost morale, which helps build trust and offers flexibility. Video calls also add more trust because they 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 must be woven deep into your company culture to ensure you are always there for your team, no matter where they 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 statistic above is proof enough on 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.

    And whatever you do, don’t wait for an annual review! Instead, actively and regularly seek your employees’ feedback and suggestions

    TIP: Communication is a two-way street. Do you want to reach your employees? They want to reach you too. Positive company culture will encourage your employees to freely share their feedback, thoughts, and ideas. Be sure to acknowledge what they say so they know they are heard and valued. This is key when looking at keeping remote employees engaged.

    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.

    Reward and Recognition Infographic

    TIP: Don’t just give bonuses or pay your employees too little. That isn’t what we mean. You should, however, pair the monetary benefits with employee recognition so that you can ensure your remote employees are engaged. An even balance here is what’s most important, it’s what keeps remote employees engaged as well.

    8. Remote 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. And the easier it is to keep remote employees engaged.

    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. 

    And knowing that remote work is the future of work, it’s important that you stay up to date on best practices and best practices when looking at how to engage remote employees.

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