Your employees are what make your business thrive, and if a portion of your workforce works remotely, it’s important to stay engaged and connected to them so they will remain happy, productive employees. Here are five strategies organizations can use to keep their remote employees engaged to ensure long-term success.
While remote work isn’t a new concept in American work culture, the number of employees who are transitioning to it has been steadily increasing year over year. Given that, companies are beginning to create a workplace culture that is built around accommodating remote teams.
Engaging remote employees is a naturally demanding task because both the company and the employee lose face-to-face interactions, so both parties have to work harder to keep the lines of communication open and thriving. So, how can companies stay connected and up-to-date with their remote employees?
This is a great question, especially because every company culture is different. But, the one thing always remains the same – a little extra effort and attention for a company will always go a long way with its employees. Below, we’ve outlined five strategies that will help your company begin its journey to effectively engaging its remote employees.
Keep reading to learn more!
At the start of the pandemic, employers flocked to Zoom to keep up the face-to-face interaction. However, employees started getting burnt out from the constant Zoom happy hours and meetings that they began losing the desire to show up. According to Monster, 69% of employees are experiencing burnout while working from home.
The little engagement employers received has now been lost as they try to bring the office energy to the remote workspace. As a result, companies are re-adjusting their Zoom strategy and using alternative methods such as Slack updates or quick video messages to relay information.
Pros and Cons of Working Remotely
Before we get into how to engage remote employees, it’s important to note some of the benefits and potential pitfalls that they face to better understand how to approach their engagement.
Remote employees tend to be more productive when compared to their in-office coworkers. This can be attributed to several reasons, but the most cited one is that there aren’t any office-based distractions surrounding them, which will naturally boost their output. And while they are losing the camaraderie that comes with chatting with coworkers in the office, their productivity flourishes.
Additionally, many remote employees tend to work outside of the traditional 9-5 office hours. They can work at different times of the day where they are much more productive, allowing them to complete their daily tasks when they’re in the best mindset for completing great work.
Better Work-Life Balance
In that same vein, remote work allows employees to have a much more flexible work-life balance. One of the cornerstones of people’s lives is the time they get to spend with their friends and family, and remote work allows people to get more time with the people who matter without having to sacrifice their productivity during office hours.
With remote work, it’s possible to create a flexible schedule around tasks that need to be done. Because there’s no commuting to and from work, they save a significant amount of time in both the morning and evening that they can spend working or with their families.
Getting this extra time daily will make remote workers happier and more satisfied with their jobs, which is beneficial for organizations because they will retain this talent, leading to better outcomes service-wise and high employee retention rates.
More Savings and a Smaller Carbon Footprint
Another advantage that remote employees experience is how much money they save each year. Getting to work can get expensive, especially if workers commute from far away. Additionally, with the price of parking, vehicle maintenance, getting lunch, and more, the yearly expenses of simply going into the office can get pretty high. But, the majority of those expenses go away once they transition to remote work.
Not only this, but by not commuting to work, employees also reduce their carbon footprint significantly because they aren’t getting into the car every day.
One of the biggest pitfalls of not being in the office is potentially missing out on the face-to-face updates and conversations that make businesses thrive. In the office, it’s easy to go up to someone and update them on something, but with remote employees, you have to rely on instant messaging, email, or video calls to get your message across, which is much less organic.
This absence of fluid, open lines of communication can make remote workers feel isolated and out of the loop, which can be seen as a roadblock for effective collaboration.
Difficulty Staying Motivated
Though it’s true that people who work from home tend to be more productive as a whole, it’s important to note that some remote workers have trouble staying motivated throughout the day. Because there isn’t an active supervisory role around them, some workers don’t feel the external pressure to perform and meet their targets.
One last pitfall remote employees have to grapple with is the amount of work they will need to put in to ensure their work can get done. Things like workstations, internet connections, and even equipment fall to them. When in an office environment, it’s someone else’s responsibility to ensure things are running smoothly. And if they aren’t technically savvy, your remote workers can be absent for an extended period.
Ways to Keep Employees Engaged While Working Remotely
So, given these pros and cons, what are some ways your organization can continuously engage with your remote employees? Check out our top tips below!
Virtual “Water Cooler” Chats
One of the things that remote employees miss out on is the “in-between” moments that in-office employees frequently take advantage of. These moments occur between official meetings and stand-ups, and their sole purpose is to build rapport and unwind. It typically isn’t organic to have off-the-cuff chats via email or chat and it’s even less so when they are about non-work-related topics.
Personal interactions are essential to company culture, and they allow your employees to get to know one another better, so it’s important to manufacture these same moments with your remote staff and continuously push these initiatives until they become the norm. One way you can do this is by creating a dedicated virtual water cooler channel on Slack (or whatever company-wide instant messenger you use). Here, you can encourage your entire staff to share personal updates, interesting websites, funny social media posts, and more to encourage non-work-related engagement.
Online Team Building Exercises
Another thing to consider for remote engagement is to have periodic online team-building exercises. Team building, much like the water cooler chats, is meant to build rapport and relationships so your workforce can work more effectively as a unit. Unlike the water cooler, however, your company can manufacture these moments much more easily.
For these activities, think of activities that can promote a sense of togetherness, fun, and enjoyment. And, above all else, don’t make it center around their job function. Some ideas that have worked for other companies in the past include virtual trivia, a virtual tour around a foreign city with a native tour guide, and interactive hikes for groups who are more outdoorsy.
We’ve touched on video chats in this article, but their significance to remote employees cannot be understated. Many remote employees rely on video calls to communicate with their coworkers, but also with clients and vendors. Video chats help to attach a face to the name and photo in-office workers see every day, which can help to build the relationships that are necessary for teams to run smoothly.
Feedback makes companies and teams perform better, so it’s important to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable giving and receiving it. The best way to ensure that happens is to listen to employees and make sure that their voices are being heard at all levels of your organization.
When it comes to remote employees, it can be tough to get candid feedback from them because they aren’t in a position to perceive the day-to-day pain points that in-office employees experience, so they’re more likely to keep quiet on the big stuff too. To help combat that, ask them for feedback on anything and everything. This can include how to meet company goals, new training ideas, fun activities to do as a team, and more. And don’t wait until their annual review! Encourage them to give feedback throughout the year.
People love to feel appreciated, and your employees deserve to be recognized for the great things they are doing for the company, especially if they are remote. Extending a sincere thank you or giving them a shout-out to the entire company can be a huge morale booster for remote employees because they can often feel as though they’ve faded into the background.
So, celebrate your employees as much as possible. Send them a gift card on their birthday, schedule a team call to recognize a job well done. Or simply send over a message extending them an earnest thank you.
Engage Your Workforce with CentricityOne
Elevating your employees’ experience at work leads to incredible results, especially for remote employees. It’s proven to drive engagement, increase loyalty, and activate advocacy from your employees and your sales channels. And it creates workplaces filled with people who are passionate about delivering great results for your organization and customers.
Here at Centricity, we’ve created an easy-to-use, SaaS-based technology that measures and promotes employee satisfaction and empowers workers. To learn more about CentricityOne and how it can help you engage and connect with all of your employees, reach out to us today to request a demo!