Consultants, freelancers, frontline workers, and full-time staff across time zones – they all have one thing in common. And that thing is – no points for guessing – remote work. They’re ‘WFH’ or at a client site.
It’s no secret that remote work offers many benefits to both employees and employers. Employers get access to a global talent pool, and employees get the freedom to work from a convenient location.
No wonder remote employees are happier than office-based workers. A recent PwC study found that only 8% of remote workers want to work from their employer’s office. On top of that, 83% of employers and 71% of employees view shift to remote work as a success.
But remote work isn’t all a bed of roses. It has its own challenges, one of which is to engage remote employees. You want to ensure that your employees are dedicated and emotionally invested in your company.
This is easier said than done, since remote teams are physically distant from the company’s main hub of activity. More often than not, they miss out on social events such as birthdays, small talks, and team lunches. Without these opportunities, remote employees can lose their sense of belonging and feel like something is amiss. The result? Widespread disengagement.
Now as a senior leader in your organization, you can’t afford to let that happen, can you? So in this post, we’ll show you several effective strategies you can use to boost remote worker engagement.
9 practical tips to engage remote workers
Keeping remote workers engaged should be one of your top priorities. Communication gaps in remote teams lead to disengagement, damaging productivity and morale in the long run. Failure to get your remote employees to work inclusively can also hurt your business’s bottom line.
In contrast, employees who feel engaged are more loyal and motivated. Not to mention 87% less likely to leave their company than unengaged employees. Follow the below best practices to engage remote teams.
1. Keep remote meetings as short as possible.
Remote workers attend more meetings every week as compared to on-site employees. The 2019 State of Remote Work found that 14% of remote employees are giving time to over 10 meetings per week (vs. just 3% of those on-site).
While there’s no denying that team meetings are necessary and beneficial to keep employees aligned, too long and frequent meetings can be frustrating. So much so that this phenomenon has led to the coining of a new term – Zoom Fatigue.
So you need to stop with the nonverbal overload. Call a meeting only when it’s absolutely necessary, and try to keep it as short as possible. Have a clear agenda before every meeting and don’t let a team member prolong it with discussions outside of this agenda.
2. Make ‘social’ events structured.
Since remote workers don’t have impromptu opportunities to connect with each other, providing those opportunities intentionally is crucial. And a great way to get started is hosting virtual social events that are not related to work.
The social event could be a cocktail-making class, a virtual concert, or a biweekly trivia game.
But here’s the biggest mistake with company-wide social activities — not structuring them. When you host a social event in a way that the talkers keep talking and the quieter ones stay quiet, it’s safe the say that the event has failed its objective.
So make sure to have rules that encourage everyone to participate. For example, a cocktail-making class with a kit will get more engagement from everyone than a simple virtual drinks session.
3. Host informal virtual all-hands.
A transparent culture fosters trust throughout an organization. And since remote teams are physically disconnected from the workplace, they need even more transparency.
To facilitate the same, you can conduct virtual all-hands from time to time. This event will encourage remote workers to showcase their projects across the company.
The project could be a product update, a new marketing campaign, or a transition to a new business partner. A different team will demonstrate what they are working on each week, ensuring that everyone’s in the loop. Plus, the workers can ask questions and share their thoughts with the presenting team, igniting a sense of inclusiveness.
We get it. Putting your work in front of the entire organization may not be easy. But this little discomfort is a small price to pay for virtual employee engagement, and a warm, better-connected workplace.
4. Say goodbye to email.
Email has its place for simple communication. But it’s not suitable for a lot of quick, back and forth conversations. Your organization should have a dedicated tool in place for real-time instant messaging (also known as live chat).
An employee chat app allows you to facilitate flexible, informal communication that helps remote workers build relationships and get the information they need to do their jobs.
Blink, for example, offers a world-class chat feature to bring your company together with groups and one-to-one chats. And it lets your employees share not just text, but also photos, documents, videos, spreadsheets, PDFs, and more without the hassle of email.
4. Create a remote working resources library.
49% of US workers face difficulty in finding documents, as per a Nintex survey. If employees can’t access crucial information at the right time, you can’t blame them for getting disengaged.
The solution is easy. All of your company’s key information should be saved and accessible from a central hub. This information would include your policies, process manuals, onboarding checklists, and other materials.
The ability to publish content on this portal will not be limited to senior management or the IT department. Every department should be able to access, publish, and share knowledge through this hub.
Sharing their knowledge will help employees feel empowered and realize the value they are adding to the organization.
So by building such as knowledge base, you’ll be able to reduce silos, improve information sharing, and improve collaboration.
For example, with Hub as a central feature of Blink, remote workers can instantly access policies, procedures, and guides in a single convenient location — leading to a more engaged workforce.
On top of that, our built-in text editor gives every employee an effortless way to create, edit, and distribute articles.
5. Make all org-wide updates digital.
Nearly 20% of remote workers feel disconnected from peers due to a lack of communication.
While communication is the key to engaging employees virtually, any type of communication will not solve the problem. It has to have the right channels and the right frequency.
You can’t constantly bombard remote employees with emails, notice board announcements, unnecessary meetings, and expect them to stay engaged.
The best way to conduct effective company-wide communication is to use a single, unobtrusive, digital communication tool. This will help establish expectations and norms without isolating or overwhelming remote workers.
Even if you’re worried about whether key information is reaching your workers, sharing the information repeatedly using multiple channels isn’t the solution. Using the right technology is.
For instance, you can use an employee app that allows you to ‘pin’ information to the top of people’s newsfeed, or has a ‘mandatory read’ option as Blink does.
6. Record all (important) meetings.
When you have multiple remote team members across different time zones, web conferencing can go a long way in reducing geographic limitations and engaging workers virtually.
But even a virtual meeting can’t solve all your problems. Employees can’t attend multiple meetings at the same time, for example. Getting the right folks together for a meeting can still prove to be a bottleneck for a project.
So a better solution is to conduct a meeting with the people who can attend, and record it for those who couldn’t. Then keep all these recordings in one place for anyone interested in catching up.
Recording video of virtual meetings ensures that no one misses out on an important discussion, along with the visuals presented during the session.
7. Use polls and feed posts.
Most company-wide communication is static, which means that workers simply consume the content by reading, listening, or watching.
The opposite of that is interactive content. It’s a type of content that allows employees to engage and participate.
Using interactive communication from time to time is another step you can take to engage virtual teams and reduce the sense of isolation.
The interactive content could be as simple as a quick poll, a short employee survey, or social media type posts that allow workers to like, comment, and tag their team members. Luckily, all these features are an integral part of Blink.
8. Celebrate employee accomplishments.
Employee Recognition can be implemented in many ways, but remote work makes it hard to carry them out. That’s why you need to put in the extra effort to celebrate contributions and achievements.
Here are some great ways to acknowledge and appreciate remote workers for their hard work:
- Giving regular greetings and check-ins on shared communication channels
- Conducting employee of the month programs
- Thanking workers during a web conferencing session
- Acknowledging personal events such as birthdays and anniversaries
- Sending thoughtful notes or signed cards from managers and peers
All these activities help remote workers feel valued and contribute to everyone’s understanding of what’s happening in different teams and departments.
Final thoughts: best practice for remote employee engagement
If you look at the above strategies carefully, you’ll realize that they all boil down to one simple thing — trying to give remote workers the same communication opportunities they would have had if they were working from an office.
Remote or office-based – the best way to keep employees engaged is by giving them a voice. After all, 46% of remote workers believe the best managers are the ones who check in – really frequently.
Making time for employees’ thoughts and concerns, whether through informal small talk or structured feedback, is the golden thread that separates a good organization from a great one.
As long as you keep this basic principle in mind, you’ll not just find it easy to implement these remote employee engagement tactics, but also to generate your own ideas to engage remote workers.
So, give them the opportunity to voice their needs without the added concern of reaching out at an inopportune moment, and see your engagement levels rise at a steady rate.
And while you’re at it, remember that the right technology can make a world of difference. Blink is an internal communications tool that does everything your intranet does, but better. Request a free demo to get started.