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16% of companies worldwide are operating entirely remotely. And with the pandemic getting more people accustomed to the idea of working from home, getting employees back in the office might prove to be difficult.
But the good news is that remote work can offer numerous advantages to companies as well. It allows greatly increasing the talent pool you can consider, reduces overhead costs, and can actually make work more productive.
Still, there are significant differences between in-office and remote employee management. And you need to understand how to keep your remote employees engaged and performing at their best.
With that in mind, let’s explore a few of the most critical communication and engagement strategies you should consider.
Create a Sense of Belonging
One of the biggest advantages of working in the same location is the relationships people can build by hanging out together. Whether it’s discussing events over lunch or even having a quick chat passing by, people have many opportunities to form deeper connections, which translate into work as well.
The good news is that you can replicate at least some of those situations remotely as well.
For instance, you could implement a virtual happy hour, where employees could spend time together (albeit remotely) in a more informal setting, sharing a drink and talking about things other than work.
At the same time, a virtual happy hour can serve as a way to nurture a sense of belonging. Going through challenging tasks without any human element in the workplace can be tricky, so even small gestures like these will create stronger bonds and result in a sense of camaraderie that every successful team needs.
You could even consider making the virtual happy hour a weekly or bi-weekly tradition, which would make it even less formal and allow people to join in based on availability.
The main reason why remote work has become increasingly popular is the rapid improvements in communication technology. Sure, chat and call functions have been around for a long time, but tools like Slack, Zoom and Asana have made it possible to replicate every part of in-office work life effectively.
Therefore, you should take advantage of the available tools and make sure your employees are using them to their full extent. Encourage your team to try out the powerful features leading tools offer and try to implement them into your workflow.
Achieving a balance between chats, video meetings, and more passive communication through email is an integral part of communicating with remote teams, keeping them in the loop, and having enough facetime to maintain engagement.Remote work can offer numerous advantages to companies as well. It allows greatly increasing the talent pool you can consider, reduces overhead costs, and can actually make work more productive. Click To Tweet
Ask for Feedback
The only way to create an engaging environment for your remote workers is to understand their needs and preferences. But unfortunately, many employers make the mistake of relying on assumptions instead of working with the remote people themselves.
Remote employees face unique challenges that can be difficult to understand for managers. So the only way to truly get in front of potential issues is to talk to your remote teams directly and ask them for feedback.
One way to do that is to conduct direct interviews, where people can share their concerns, make suggestions, and share thoughts on the overall work processes and how they feel in the workplace.
But if you want to get more honest responses that an employee might not feel comfortable saying directly, you could also run anonymous surveys that can be an invaluable resource for discovering big issues that require immediate attention.
In order to feel value, remote workers must know that their work is recognized and appreciated. Going from project to project without knowing whether anybody notices your work can be very discouraging, so leaders should make an effort to reach out and congratulate employees on a job well done, even when they are working remotely.
If you want to take it a step further, you could even consider setting up a rewards system based on performance. When you set out to achieve ambitious milestones, create a bonus or other reward for achieving them. That way, remote workers will feel extra motivation to push through complex challenges.
And when you want to nurture communication between remote team members, you could set up a joint reward for the entire team if they can complete a task effectively.
Managing remote teams and keeping them engaged can be hard. But at the same time, the potential opportunities that remote work offers are too big to not put in the effort.
The strategies listed above are a good starting point for creating a more inclusive and open remote work environment.