As a business owner or HR manager, you’ll have no doubt found that worker engagement can blow just as hot and cold as the weather we’re having at the moment. When employees are riding high, they’re productive, motivated and happy, but all too often, all it takes is a little knock to their confidence and they’re back down to earth with a bump.
When dealing with remote employees, maintaining a consistent level of engagement can be all the more challenging because you’re not there to pick them up. In the office, a quick pep talk might be enough to give them a boost, but when they’re not physically present, it’s much more difficult to provide the attention they need.
So how can you keep remote workers consistently engaged? Here are a few tips…
- Communicate too much, not too little
Effective communication is crucial to employee engagement. Communicating with your staff on a regular basis keeps them in the loop and makes them feel like part of the team. Just become someone isn’t there physically, it doesn’t mean you should leave them out in the cold. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Rather than out of sight and out of mind, you should make the effort to schedule frequent check-ins with remote workers so you can discuss their progress make sure they don’t feel neglected.
We’re often warned about the dangers of micromanagement, but in the case of remote workers, you’ll be better served by over-communicating than losing touch.
- Focus on ‘what’ rather than ‘when’
When dealing with a remote team, it’s important to focus on the work they produce rather than when they produce it. Yes, deadlines still apply, but one of the many benefits of working remotely is the ability to fit work around existing commitments, such as taking the children to school. So, if your employees are not up and working by 9am, make sure you bite your tongue.
While one remote worker might be more productive in the evening, others might be early risers. If you want to keep your workforce motivated and engaged then let them perform when they’re at their most productive without imposing unnecessary restrictions.
- Make time for small talk
One area of working life that can really suffer is the informal chats around the kettle that help to build personal relationships within your team. When dealing with remote workers, it’s easy to fall into the trap of only communicating with them to assign work and check on their progress, but taking the time to get to know them personally is just as important as it is with office-based members of the team.
Simply asking how their family is and discussing a shared interest at the start or end of a call is an easy way to show them they’re valued as an individual as well as an employee.
- Emphasise the importance of an organised workspace
You certainly don’t want to become the remote workers’ mum, but it doesn’t do any harm to encourage your team to keep their home offices ship-shape. Having a tidy workspace allows for a richer flow of ideas, and research has shown that the tidiness of a workspace, or lack thereof, can be one cause of a drop in productivity.
Providing remote employees with a small allowance for office upgrades such as ergonomic chairs, storage solutions and drawers can remove distractions and help them work more efficiently. Some employers even pay for professional cleaners to give their remote workers’ offices a good spring clean to help boost productivity.
- Give them the tools they need
The most frustrating thing for a naturally hard-working employee, regardless of where they’re based, is to be limited by the tools and technology at their disposal. Putting the right tools and training in place for remote workers to perform at their best is essential to keeping them engaged.
Platforms such as instant messaging and screen sharing can help remote workers communicate effectively with the rest of the team, while collaborative project management tools like Basecamp, Trello and Asana will help them manage their time and empower them to succeed.
Keeping your remote workers consistently engaged can be tough, but the fact that you’re even reading this guide is an excellent start. It shows you understand the potential risks of a disengaged remote workforce and are willing to do your best to help everyone succeed.