Improving Employee Engagement in Remote Workplaces
The best practices for increasing remote employee engagement include inclusive communication, regular follow-up, increased team collaboration, reward and recognition of workers, clearly defining the expectations, and the use technological tools. Some insights on remote employees' engagement are that about 68% of US workforce feels disengaged with the organization and 52% of remote workers feel they are not treated equally by their colleagues. Below is an overview of the collected insights and best practices.
INSIGHTS ON Remote Employee Engagement
- Numerous studies state that about 68% of U.S. employees are totally disengaged with their work.
- According to a recent study by Walden University, the number of remote workers has increased by 80% over the past decade. It also found that the remote workers are more productive than their traditional in-office colleagues, cheaper to maintain for the organization, and drastically increase organizational leaders’ hiring options.
- The current issue in the US is that over half of the nation’s disengaged employees work remotely, contributing about $550 billion in the annual costs of employee disengagement to businesses.
- The study found that remote workers experience strengthened levels of workplace engagement when they have a personal connection to their work environment and feel the work culture is familial.
- Of the 1,153 employees polled in a study published by the Harvard Business Review, 52% said they work from their home office at least some of the time. When they do, many feel they do not receive equal treatment from their colleagues.
- Another report by Harvard Business Review states that remote employees are more likely to report feeling that they are mistreated by colleagues. They worry that coworkers say bad things behind their backs or make changes to projects, lobby against them, and don’t fight for their priorities.
- About 46% of remote workers said the most successful managers checked in frequently and regularly with remote employees and 25% said that managers who insisted on some face time with remote employees were more successful.
Remote Employee Engagement Best Practices
To compile the insights and best practices for remote workforce engagement, we found synonymous findings for best practices across credible industry sources like Harvard Business Review, CIO, Walden University, Inc, HR Technologist, Entrepreneur, Business News Daily, HR Exchange Networks among others. The best practices are grouped in accordance to the following six headers below.
COMMUNICATE MORE INCLUSIVELY
- Always communicate seamlessly across teams. This can be done by keeping the remote team members in the loop and sending regular updates, announcements, and reminders by email.
- Respecting the autonomy of the remote workforce is essential to make them feel on par with non-remote team members. Focusing more on accomplishments and regular communication can engage the remote team to engage better with the company goals.
- Keep the remote workforce up-to-date on company matters through regular newsletters, Slack, or Skype. This is essential to keep the team on the same page of progress.
- Prioritizing user-friendly learning has proven to increase engagement across the board. Kallidus Learn, for example, includes familiar design features, following menu styles and navigation based on popular websites such as Facebook and Netflix.
- Demonstrating exemplary communication skills is important for the manager to communicate trust and respect, inquire about workload and progress without micromanaging, and over-communicating. It also enables others on the team (non-remote workers) to exhibit the same behavior.
- Keep the lines of communication open for all the remote workers across different time zones, for example, when setting meeting times or sending emails.
- Provide all the required materials, equipment and information to succeed. Connect remote workers to colleagues doing similar work and host frequent team meetings to foster a sense of being connected and belonging.
USE TECHNOLOGICAL TOOLS
- Digitizing the office culture is a very important engagement tactic for remote workers. It enables them to feel connected with the regular workforce. Some examples of digital engagement include employee photo sharing contest, birthday celebrations, etc.
- Use an LMS that is mobile-responsive, this is one of the most important factors in learner engagement and provides the flexibility to train learners, regardless of where they are based on a mobile, tablet, or PC. Also, allowing anytime-anywhere access through virtual-learning is vital for engaging a geographically diverse workforce.
- Adopting a dedicated collaboration tool over an in-house, hyper-secure intranet, could make remote employees to feel more included in the entire ecosystem. Tools like G-Suite and Slack enable documents and reports management from any location and could also prove to be a wise investment.
- Managers should demonstrate familiarity and comfort with different types of technology like Skype, Slack, IM, Adobe Connect, and more. They should tailor their communication style and medium with each employee in mind.
- Enable remote employees to focus on the task at hand with a work-execution tool which can automate day-to-day tasks such as approving budgets and sales proposals, hereby eliminating the back-and-forth emails.
- Regular check-ins with remote workers is one of the biggest things to consider, as they deserve as much contact as anyone based in the same building. This can be done through regular calls, emails, instant messaging.
- Scheduling frequent check-ins enable two-way communication for the managers and team, a one-on-one video or chat session about progress and feedback improves workforce engagement and enables the manager to focus on the right direction for the team and the project.
- Frequent and consistent check-ins are very important. About 46% remote workers feel that the most successful managers checked-in frequently and regularly with their remote employees. The frequency of the check-ins varied from daily to bi-weekly to weekly.
- Being available for the team is mandatory, as successful managers are available during remote employees’ working hours, no matter their time zone. This further enables an open-door policy for both remote and on-site employees. Also, remote employees should always be able to count on their manager to respond to pressing concerns, no matter where they work.
INCREASE TEAM COLLABORATION
- As remote workers are already working from distant locations, it is imperative to not isolate any members of the team. This can be done by using video calls for all group members in a discussion. With voice calls there is lower engagement whereas video calls give group members the confidence to engage more.
- The use of face-to-face or voice-to-voice contact is very important because a fourth of remote workers feel that managers who insisted on some face time with remote employees are more successful.
- The introduction of new technology offers more engagement and cohesiveness across the team. For example, a cloud solution such as Google Docs or Hangouts helps reduce the isolation that workers may feel in the team.
- Team-based goals and competitions assist in creating an atmosphere of collaboration and cooperation. Teams can be formed based on function or location and inclusion in striving towards a common objective is the pivotal goal of the exercise. This kind of gamification can help to standardize performance metrics and evaluation criteria.
- The use of gamification and leader boards is an important tool to tap the natural competitive nature of the remote workforce, as it encourages engagement through small-scale goal setting.
REWARD AND RECOGNIZE
- Always remember to reward and recognize the efforts of a remote team member. Make a concerted effort to highlight the accomplishments, ideas, and milestones during a team meeting or through a formal email announcement.
- Prioritizing remote engagement is essential for getting feedback and suggestions. Announcing the implementation of new tools and resources based on feedback helps to maintain a positive morale of the team and gives the sense that they are being heard by the management.
- Always remember to show appreciation with instant feedback, this can be done by relying on virtual feedback scenarios where participation and outcomes are assessed, with objectivity.
DEFINE THE EXPECTATIONS CLEARLY
- Being clear about expectations is mandatory. Managers who are direct with their expectations of both remote and on-site employees have happier teams that can live up to those expectations.
- Prioritize relationships by using the check-in time to ask about the remote worker's personal life, families, and hobbies. Designate team meeting time for “water cooler” conversation to create personal connections and strengthen relationships.
- Foster a personal connection by recognizing their strengths, weaknesses and interests to better connect with them. Also, keep tabs on what your workers do and what they really love to do.
- Clarifying expectations also shows that the company pays attention to, comprehends and respects the job role and wants to help remote employees succeed.
- Set clear expectations and create a culture of accountability by giving the team effective collaboration tools. This can help create a culture of accountability because it provides a cross-team view of how workers are tracking against goals.
- To keep things predictable, companies should adopt a clearly articulated cadence of deadlines that employees can work towards independently. Choose a work-management platform that enables the set-up of automated updates.