Top Tips to Keep Remote Workers Engaged & Connected
The requirement for businesses to provide flexible working hours and conditions, along with greater access to a much larger talent pool through smart devices, the cloud and Wi-Fi, means that remote working is becoming commonplace.
Our recent report on the Future of Work references that 46% of US companies are already using freelancers to strengthen and support existing teams.
While the growth of this business practice is great for employees who require that flexibility, and businesses who can benefit from tapping into previously unavailable pools of talent, it does present potential challenges around what are seen as more traditional methods of managing your workforce.
The biggest challenge of all being how do you keep employees that aren’t office based engaged and connected?
Here are our top ten tips for doing just that:
- Establish a routine from the start — schedule regular, and consistent, catch up calls with management, key stakeholders and also the wider team
- Trust & empower them — let them make decisions specific to their role. Don’t undermine them or fall into the trap of micro-managing. Set clear expectations and goals and let them run take control to get to goal
- Track their activity — not in a creepy ‘Big Brother is watching you’ sort of way, simply implement a process that allows you to monitor what is being worked on and when and that your remote workforce can see you are doing this. Showing that you are interested in an employee’s day-to-day activity ensures they don’t feel isolated or forgotten about
- Focus on productivity — tracking activity will also help you to determine when are they most productive. Can you use that data to structure their working day around these times offering even more potential flexibility
- Communicate clearly, effectively and often — take advantage of technology, use instant messaging, video calling and social media to ensure that remote workers can be involved in conversations that are ongoing in the office. Allowing them to feel part of the creation and decision making process in real-time will increase engagement
- Make sure they feel part of team — don’t assume because they work remotely they won’t want to take part in team events. Ensure that the invitations or plans always include them but make it clear they have the right to not attend with no repercussions. Also ensure that they are kept in the loop of everything that is happening in the office or with the business — no update is too small to ensure they know they are part of the team
- Get to know and understand them — just as you would with your ‘in-office’ employees it is really important to understand them as the ‘person’ as well as the ‘employee’. Arrange a virtual coffee once a week where you video call and talk about more general, non-work related things to build that extra layer of working relationship that comes naturally when you manage employees in an office environment.
- Meet them — as with any long distance relationship there has to be an element of face-to-face interaction to build trust and ensure success, even if it is only once or twice a year make the effort to get together. This one small element could be a game changer in your working relationship — and the success of your business
- Praise & reward them — It is natural in a traditional office setting to routinely praise and reward your teams for their successes. Praise is just as important, if not more so, to your remote workers to ensure they feel part of the team, appreciated and that their work is not going unnoticed. It also underpins their value to the rest of the company as well
- Encourage development — while remote workers may miss out on learning tips and tricks from their colleagues they can still benefit from being supported in developing their skills. Ensure that they are given the opportunity to attend conferences and training sessions to increase their skill set. Doing this not only increases their value to you as an employee it also shows them that you believe in them enough to invest financially
If you are in need of more help and inspiration on keeping your remote workers connected check out this list of Tools for Remote Teams curated by Buffer, and of course they are experts in keeping their remote workforce engaged. Check out some of the ways they do this around their virtual water cooler.