Remote work has been on the rise for years—and it will only continue to grow. As companies and employees settle into this new remote normal, many are realizing the advantages of virtual work. And it’s no surprise why.
Remote workers tend to be more productive, engaged, and happier. Plus, companies that offer remote and flexible work options are more attractive to top talent, helping businesses land and retain a competitive workforce.
But managing a remote workforce isn’t always easy. So how do you ensure your remote employees are successful? Keep your employees engaged, no matter where they’re working.
There are many ways to keep remote employees engaged. In this article we’ll cover how remote work impacts employee engagement, plus 10 strategies backed by research you can use to engage your remote team.
Understanding Remote Work and Employee Engagement
It’s clear that remote work is here to stay—at least on some level for most organizations. However, while there are many benefits to remote work, there are unique challenges too.
According to the Harvard Business Review, 62% of employees believe working remotely positively impacts engagement, yet only 5% are likely to stay at their company long-term.
So what does that mean for your own remote employee engagement efforts?
This gap represents an opportunity for companies to be proactive and step up their engagement efforts. In other words, you’ll need more than perks and remote happy hours to keep your remote employees engaged. Engaging remote employees requires a strategic approach and long-term commitment to your people.
When organizations invest in their remote employees’ long-term success and engagement, they are rewarded with happier, more productive employees who are in it for the long-haul.
Use the following employee engagement activities for remote workers to keep your remote workers engaged from day one.
10 Tips for Engaging Remote Employees
1. Stay connected through technology.
Keep your remote employees connected through effective communication channels and strategic use of technology.
For example, use tools like Zoom, Asana, GoToMeeting, and Slack to streamline communication and project management between team members so everyone is on the same page. Encourage your team to use the cloud for file sharing and to increase seamless work efforts between all team members.
Be sure to take advantage of video conferencing, too. While email and digital chats are great ways to keep in touch, face-to-face communication can help your virtual team feel more present in the office environment.
Schedule staff meetings, and incorporate video calls with screen sharing on a regular basis. This can help your remote workers feel as though they are a part of the team, and it can help to change the way your in-house staff members view the remote workers.
2. Foster social interaction.
Despite the many benefits of remote work, the number one drawback employees complained of was loneliness. Keep your remote employees engaged by fostering team connections through social hours, video chats, and virtual team-building activities.
Assign mentors to new hires so new employees have someone they can rely on to ask questions and get oriented throughout their first year. If possible, plan in-person team or company retreats and outings to strengthen those connections.
3. Show employees you care.
Build meaningful relationships with your remote employees and give them permission to create balance. Respect their time by setting healthy boundaries around schedules, assignments, and performance expectations. Make the time to chat with them about:
- Their family and personal hobbies
- Stress and mental or emotional health
- Their workload to help them avoid burnout
4. Ask for and listen to feedback.
Communicate with employees when you take action (or why you won’t be taking action) on their feedback so they know they have been heard and their opinion is valued. When employees feel valued they are happier and more engaged at work.
And don’t shy away from giving constructive feedback. Help employees take advantage of development opportunities.
5. Recognize employee contributions.
Remote workers tend to put in more hours than their in-office counterparts, but they often don’t feel part of the team. One solution is to make employee recognition a priority.
Leverage an online recognition platform to give every employee the ability to view, comment on, and give recognition in real-time. Our research found that employee recognition is a top driver for employee engagement.
Regular recognition from peers and managers helps employees feel connected, appreciated, and valued.
6. Keep them in the know.
It’s important to keep your remote workers updated on projects, goals, team progress, and company news. Since a lot of information at companies gets circulated through water cooler talk or chats across desks, remote employees can easily get left out of the loop and feeling disconnected.
Use an employee-friendly goal setting and tracking system to give everyone access to company goals, progress updates, new projects, and more. Check in regularly with your remote employees for both one-on-ones and team meetings so everyone has a chance to touch base and keep their finger on the pulse of the company.
When remote workers are part of the dialogue, they will be empowered in their work and feel more connected and engaged.
7. Support your newest hires.
Our research found that 76% of new hires felt less equipped to do their job compared to 85% of tenured employees. In other words, new hires need extra support when working remotely.
Managers should provide additional training, communication, and resources to support new remote employees throughout their onboarding. This includes making sure employees have access to:
- Information like login credentials and document access
- Clear training on processes and technology
- Tools, equipment, and resources to do their job well
8. Give employees the tools to succeed.
Ensuring your employees feel confident and empowered to do their best work no matter where they are is key to improving engagement and performance. Whether a new hire or a veteran employee, make sure your remote team has the tools and training to get the job done.
And resources and amenities aren’t limited to hardware or equipment needs like laptops or company cell phones. Do your employees have a place they can work effectively at home? Do they have access to development opportunities?
Don’t be afraid to get creative. You can offer stipends for co-working spaces for employees who don’t have a home office or cover costs to send employees to business conferences and professional development courses.
9. Be flexible.
One of the best things about remote work is the flexibility it offers employees. While you may need to have set times around team meetings and collaborative sessions, give your employees autonomy around when and how they work the rest of the time.
Trust them to get the job done. Building trust between employees and managers is crucial for employee engagement and satisfaction. Plus, flexibility means employees can develop a working cycle that works best for them, creating a healthier work-life balance.
10. Offer a mix of remote and in-house work options.
Remote work increases employee engagement, especially when employees spend a mix of time working at home and in the office.
Gallup found that the optimal engagement boost was when employees worked from home 3-4 days out of a five-day workweek. Time spent in the office helps employees feel connected to their coworkers and allows for in-person collaboration and bonding among team members. But the majority of the time, working remotely keeps employees focused and productive, less stressed, and happier.
It’s clear that remote work will only continue to grow in the coming years, which means understanding how to manage and engage your remote employees is more important than ever. Fortunately, there are many ways to engage remote employees—use these tips to take advantage of all the benefits of a remote workforce and keep your team happy, healthy, and productive all year long.
Looking for creative and strategic ways to engage your remote, gig, and seasonal employees? Download our 200 Employee Engagement Ideas for HR & Managers ebook.