Remote working is the future of the American workplace. The days of hanging out around the water cooler and chatting about where to go for lunch are disappearing. Major Fortune 500 corporations like Dell, Amazon, Aetna, American Express and Apple are embracing remote working options. It’s a smart move because having an army of remote workers comes with many benefits. Lower overhead costs, increased productivity and reduced employee turnover make remote working extremely attractive to companies and employees alike. There are even studies that show that remote working leads to higher employee engagement; that is, if you do it right. It can also cause management and team members a lot of headaches if they aren’t prepared.
Keep reading to unlock the secrets to keeping remote employees engaged.
Now this doesn’t mean micromanaging your remote employees by constantly checking in to see what they’re doing. It does mean touching base with them on a regular basis to not only get updates on the projects they are working on, but also to keep them abreast of what’s going on at headquarters. If possible, it’s best to have daily check-ins, even if they are just for five minutes. There’s no need to have a meeting just to have a meeting, so if there’s not much to cover on a particular day, keep it short. Most importantly, don’t fall into the trap of only communicating through emails and IMs, it’s a recipe for miscommunication and disaster. Tools like Skype are great ways to get facetime with your remote team members.
If employees don’t hear from you regularly, they might start to feel like they are drifting around in space without any contact from the home planet. This can lead to lower levels of productivity, and apathy towards the job.
Highlight remote employees.
Remote employees need to feel the love. They need to feel like they are just as important as the people who are present in the office everyday (and they are!). One way to do this is by highlighting them in the company newsletter, in an email or on the company Slack channel (more about Slack in a moment). Celebrate their achievements, or simply introduce them in a quirky, fun way. If possible, you could also invite them into the office once a quarter for a happy hour or coffee with colleagues.
Give them perks.
One big way to make sure remote workers are fully engaged is to ensure that they have an adequate workspace. The kitchen table may not be the best place to concentrate on a quarterly report, so consider paying for a coworking space. The cost is still minimal and most plans start around $200/monthly. Many companies with remote workforces also pay for health and wellness plans and continuing education.
Use digital tools.
One of the chief concerns for most employers when they dip their toes into the remote working water is that employees will fall off the map. How do you keep an employee fully engaged in the job if you don’t see them face to face every day? Luckily, the rise of remote work has brought a ton of digital collaboration tools with it. Tools like Slack, Trello, Scrum Mate and Google Drive are great for keeping people connected and encouraging the spirit of collaboration. With digital tools like these, you can easily track progress and keep the workflow consistent. Creating a digital ecosystem for remote work using these tools is essential for success.
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