How to Engage Your Remote Workforce
October 2nd, 2019
With technology the way it is, there are so many ways to work. More and more companies are offering the ability to work from home or work remotely – some companies (like Buffer) are working with entirely remote workforces. Whatever version of this diversified workforce is present in your office, it takes a different strategy to ensure remote employee engagement. If you’re struggling with this, here are a few things to consider.
Focus on Time Management
This is beneficial for all levels of an organization (just because an employee is in the office doesn’t mean they’re great at managing their time), but it’s especially important for remote workers. Set up time management training or offer resources for them to learn and incorporate time management tools into their daily routine. These may be things such as time trackers, time blocking apps, pre-planning days or weeks ahead of time, trying the Pomodoro method, or other research-backed time management techniques. Whatever works best for your team is perfectly fine, but the emphasis on good time management skills must be there for remote workers to do their jobs successfully.
Don’t Leave Them Out
Working from home can be isolating. It’s important to make sure they feel like they are part of the team. If they feel like a floating team member that isn’t really considered part of the core crew, it will be much easier for them to disconnect emotionally and mentally from what you’re trying to accomplish as an organization. Include them in team video chats when possible and ensure that you have open lines of communication with them throughout the day. It shouldn’t all be about work, either. Though it’s easier to forget sometimes when they aren’t right in front of you, there is a person at the other end of that email address or Slack channel, and they want to feel cared about as a person as much as they want to understand that you still view them as a valuable part of the team.
Don’t Over-Do It, Either
At the same time, your remote team members don’t want to feel like you’re constantly in their inbox or popping up in their chat windows. After all, they have work to do! Striking that balance can be difficult, and the needs of each employee may differ depending on the responsibilities of their role and the type of person they are. This is where emotional intelligence training and a deeper understanding of your employees on a personal level comes in handy – when you know what to look for, you can quickly and easily establish a cadence that isn’t too little or too much for each of your remote team members.
Set Goals Together
Often times, remote workers can feel like they’re at the end of the pecking order. Because they aren’t in the office to see and be part of the conversations that casually happen that can lead to bigger organizational changes, you have to be prepared to counteract that. In order for remote employees to feel like they are contributing to moving your organization forward not just from the perspective of their specific role, but as part of the team as a whole, it’s important to include them in goal setting sessions. These can be as big as once or twice-annual meetings where remote workers are flown into the same location to meet with the rest of the team in person, or as simple as having a conference call and soliciting their opinion on matters of moving the company forward. This keeps employees engaged, productive, and serves as a reminder on a regular basis that their input is wanted.
Clearly Defined Systems
For remote workers to do their jobs effectively, your systems have to be well-defined. As a company, your remote employees should be able to access everything they need to at all times. There should be no room in your systems for excuses that X wasn’t connecting to Z again so they couldn’t get it done. But your systems should go beyond the technological and mechanical, too. You should have systemized check-ins and progress reports so you know your team is maintaining productivity even when they aren’t at a desk or right in front of you.
Whatever standards you decide on, make sure they are clear and leave no room for negotiation. Make sure all parties involved understand what’s expected and when it’s expected. Communication is key – communicate well, and often. These things will ensure your organization runs smoothly and maintains productivity no matter where your employees are located – and that leaves room for you to tap a much wider pool of talent to help move you forward faster.