Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2020, a leading trend among businesses was employing remote workers in a wide range of job responsibilities. The trend has, by now, attained something of a permanent status, as many companies anticipate continuing the remote-employee process long after the nation’s recovery is fully underway.
One challenge employers face is ensuring that off-site workers feel connected to the organization in the same way as employees in the workplace. When these individuals are based at a great distance, how can they feel engaged and part of the team? Here are tips to keep in mind:
1. Harness technology to stay in touch.
When face-to-face encounters aren’t possible, there’s considerable communications technology available to achieve this goal. Chat tools and video conferencing help maintain informal ties with remote workers. Through resources like Skype, Zoom, and others, remote staff can reach out to managers and others with project-related questions, and make themselves available for a quick “check-in” by those in the workplace.
During video meetings, “don’t talk only about work,” suggests Business.com. Ask remote team members “to share any good news they may have,” which might be “work-related good news or just something fun they did on the weekend.”
This interaction helps strengthen the bond between those in the workplace and co-workers located elsewhere.
2. Include remote workers in onsite meetings.
Sometimes managers forget or overlook inviting remote team members to take part in weekly or biweekly staff meetings. Get these meetings on their schedule, so they can actively participate with ideas and feedback. This, too, makes them feel more like part of the team.
3. Keep them in the loop with your company newsletter.
Maintaining contact through a regularly scheduled newsletter is another great way to boost offsite employee engagement. Content for the newsletter can range from updates on product launches, corporate initiatives, etc., to informal holiday greetings and/or updates on fellow team members. Consider spotlighting individual employees on a regular basis, so remote workers learn new things about their team members. Or spotlight a high-performing offsite employee, so people in your office better understand the contributions these remote workers are making to the business.
4. Pay attention to remote workers’ well-being.
As a forward-thinking organization, you likely have resources in place for employees in need of physical and mental well-being. This valuable support can and should be extended to your remote team members, as well.
Watch for signs that “remote employees may be struggling, then step in early,” advises Workplace. Such signs may include offsite workers “keeping their camera off, skipping meetings and calling in sick.” When this occurs, gaining access to mental health resources is “an excellent way to support personal and professional wellbeing.”
5. Recognize and reward the efforts of your offsite team.
Employee recognition programs aren’t restricted to those who succeed in your workplace. The same celebratory notice should be extended to remote workers, as well.
Recognition of remote employees’ contributions doesn’t have to be limited to a company newsletter. Include a public acknowledgement of significant offsite achievements in staff meetings. Salute remote workers’ efforts on your company’s social media networks. When an employment milestone occurs, send them an e-card or offer a digital rewards program where they can choose a gift online. These efforts reinforce the sense among your virtual workforce that “we’re all in this together.”
For more information on engaging your remote workforce, check out “Tips for Business Owners and Employees Working from Home.”