Engaging remote employees requires a different mindset than engaging office-based employees.
When someone is fully remote by choice, they may want different things from their working life than people who were forced into remote work by the pandemic.
It’s therefore important that businesses find helpful, creative, and effective ways of engaging remote employees, to ensure that they can do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
Do trust them
For any remote employee to work successfully, they need to feel trusted. If they feel like you’re constantly haranguing them, or you’re trying to micromanage their workload, it’s going to cause them to disconnect and become less productive and communicative. It will have the opposite effect that you’d hoped for.
If someone isn’t working as effectively as you’d like, or you’ve noticed a change in them, ask them what’s wrong. It may be that they’re having personal issues that are impacting their ability to work, but they don’t feel able to talk about it.
Don’t treat them like they’re in an office
Working remotely isn’t even close to being the same as working in an office. It changes everything from someone’s daily routine, to the noises around them, to their concentration levels. You therefore can’t take the same approach when engaging remote employees.
For instance, if you’re organizing a meeting, you need to be aware of video call fatigue. It’s a lot harder to stay engaged for hours when you’re staring at a camera and have nothing else to look at. Compare this to being in a meeting room where there are people, a whiteboard, a window, door, table, laptop, etc. This inevitably changes the experience of the meeting.
You want to keep sessions short and avoid too many unnecessary tangents. This is especially true for employees who have to attend a lot of meetings.
If someone walked up to your desk in person, you wouldn’t listen to what they had to say then go back to work without responding. Make sure you don’t do that in a remote environment, either. If someone messages you with a question, it’s always best to respond when you can, especially if they need your help with something.
Communication is a key part of having a trusting workplace. Employees need to know what’s going on in the business, just as much as they would in an office-based role.
Make sure you listen to remote employees’ views, even if it doesn’t change the outcome. Taking the time to do this will make them feel valued. It may even win their buy-in without you having to do anything extra.
Do offer communication options
There are more ways to communicate than ever, but it’s important to remember that how you communicate can and does make a difference to someone’s ability to do their job. Some people prefer voice calls over messages, others like to read things, some are fine with video.
As well as personal preference, some people process information better or differently depending on how it’s delivered. For example, in most cases, I prefer to read information over digesting it in video format. When reading, I can process it at my own pace, not based around how fast someone speaks.
I mentioned this in the first point, but I want to circle back to it because it’s one of the worst things you can do. By all means, track what employees are doing in a Kanban board, to-do list, or other tracking method that works for you. Set deadlines and encourage employees to stick to them.
But don’t dictate how they spend every working moment. It’s not up to you to prioritize someone’s tasks. Micromanaging is almost never your best bet, but it’s especially problematic when it comes to engaging remote employees.
Don’t exclude them from events
Just because someone works remotely, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t still enjoy some face-time occasionally.
This may not be for everyone, but there are plenty of ways to adapt things like the holiday party to suit everyone. Whether that’s by having parties across several locations if you’re a global company, or hosting online events like quizzes, a magician, or games, there are lots of ways of engaging remote employees.
Do give them the right equipment
For someone to work efficiently, they need the right equipment. There’s no point expecting someone to program if they have a laptop from 2005. They need the latest tech that enables them to do things more efficiently.
Other things, like monitors, desks, and chairs can make a huge difference to someone’s ability to do their job, too. Are they sitting too close to their monitor? Can their feet touch the ground in their chair? Is their keyboard or mouse hurting them when they use it? These are small things that can dramatically influence everything from someone’s concentration to their pain levels.
When it comes to software, sometimes free or open source products are all you need to do a job effectively. And sometimes, trying to save a few dollars overcomplicates the job and means it takes twice as long. Be mindful of this and listen to employees’ frustrations if they’re struggling with something.
Don’t expect them to come into the office last minute
If you still have an office and expect employees to visit on occasion, make sure this is clear in the job description before they start. Hybrid working and remote working are very different things and require different working styles for success.
Also remember that if you want remote employees to visit last minute, they may need time to arrange things like child or pet care.
Always respect their time and give them plenty of notice before asking them to come into the office. Respect is fundamental to engaging remote employees, or any employees, for that matter.
Do make support paths clear
Tech is a huge part of a remote role, but sometimes things go wrong. Employees need to know who they can contact for IT issues since they don’t have an onsite IT team like they would when working in an office.
Don’t expect them to communicate if you don’t
Like it or not, employees will follow your example. So, if you’re not communicating with them, it’s unlikely that they’re going to communicate with you.
Communication is a two-way street that requires effort and commitment from all parties involved.
Engaging remote workers is a new thing for many businesses to have to do. That doesn’t mean it has to be complicated or challenging, though. Sometimes it’s really about common sense and considering how you’d like to be treated, what would make your life easier, and remembering that everyone requires different things. Being able to meet this diversity of needs is one of the strengths of remote working.
Another way of meeting diverse needs and engaging remote employees is by bringing all of your employee groups, programs, and events together in one place on Workrowd. Remote, hybrid, and in-office employees alike will be able to quickly see all of the great employee experience initiatives you offer and get involved, no matter where or when they work.
What’s more, you’ll be able to easily track how your programming is impacting employee engagement. Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more, or visit our site. We’d love to explore ways to support you in engaging remote employees.