Staying Engaged with Remote Employees
Wisetail | 6 min read
Remote work in 2023 and beyond
According to a recent global survey of 3000 remote employees, the majority of remote workers appreciate the flexibility and autonomy afforded by remote work, with half sharing that they feel more energized and less burned out than they did a year ago. Even though many remote employees work with colleagues across different time zones, 75% still feel connected to their company culture and coworkers. In 2023, more than 70% prefer to continue working remotely.
Though the remote model brings benefits to both employees and employers, managing a remote staff can be challenging. The abrupt move to remote work due to the pandemic created entirely new office dynamics, and many businesses struggle with maintaining office culture; supporting healthy work-life balance; and creating channels for communication, collaboration, and innovation. From technology, security, and privacy concerns to people management, recognition, and career advancement, developing a remote workforce strategy is the key to success.
An engaged culture for the win
Whether remote or on-site, today’s employees seek work cultures aligning with their values. Companies that established remote-first policies to successfully transition to the new way of work followed a few basic principles:
- Be intentional. Switching to remote work without a plan to support company culture creates a cultural vacuum. In order to create a sense of connection and shared values, the needs of remote employees must be the central focus. What processes or tools might need to be updated or changed to support them? How can we ensure remote training is as comprehensive as on-site training? How can we as a company better support employees’ need to connect with one another and with leadership?
- Be transparent. Transparency is a core building block of any positive work culture — even more so in a remote work environment. Consider creating a centralized platform, accessible to all employees, for sharing project progress, meeting notes, announcements, and policies in real time.
- Focus on socialization. Without a physical office, employees may feel isolated, but ingenuity and creativity can help combat those feelings and create a more office-like energy. Create time and space for casual conversations via dedicated chat channels, forums, or virtual activities.
- Support asynchronous work. When team members work independently, perhaps even in different time zones, it’s important to have the appropriate tools and technology in place. Social messaging apps, cloud-based share points, whiteboard tools, forums, and videoconferencing technology help employees stay in tune with their team.
- Adjust management styles. Especially if your company is new to remote work, take a hard look at your management style. Remote managers must rethink traditional work models and expectations — focusing more on outcomes and goals than on assigning daily or hourly tasks.
Best practices for engagement
Even in a remote environment, employee engagement is critical. Because workers no longer have opportunity for organic connections in the break room or during lunch hours, leaders must make a concerted effort to encourage and support engagement and interaction. How can you grow a more engaged remote workforce?
- Prioritize communication. It’s easy to feel disconnected when working remotely, so managers need to step up their communication skills. Consider a daily check-in where leaders can assess how work is progressing, offer assistance or resources, and provide critical company updates. Make sure employees are encouraged to ask questions or voice concerns.
- Set clear expectations. Communicate your expectations clearly. Do you expect daily reports? Are workers expected to be online during specific office hours? Clarity helps smooth the often-bumpy process of establishing remote work practices and dynamics. Provide any additional support, technology, or training remote workers need to meet your expectations.
- Recognize and reward. Recognition and rewards are key to improving engagement among remote employees. The main goal of recognition is to incentivize productivity and dedication. Consider how you can adapt prior on-site recognition activities to the remote world. Company-wide emails recognizing good work, electronic gift cards for local services, or even a personal email or phone call goes a long way toward ensuring employees feel valued and remain engaged.
- Encourage work-life balance. One of the top priorities of today’s employees is work-life balance — a delicate balance that is especially challenging for a remote workforce. Without a physical separation from their workspace, employees may feel like they need to be “on” 24 hours a day, causing unnecessary stress and eventual burnout. Communicate the importance of creating and respecting boundaries frequently, encouraging employees to step away from their computers when their workday is done.
- Support a collaborative culture. Being part of a team engages employees — but remote work can undermine a teamwork mentality. Leaders need to foster a culture where employees understand they are still working toward the same common goals, even though they are separated geographically.
Remote work provides many benefits to both employees and employers — increased flexibility, less commuting, and reduced absenteeism, along with improved productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention. But planning is essential for success.
To further support your engagement and retention strategies, check our webinar series, Putting the Human Back in HR. This collection of virtual events aims to bring awareness, inspiration, and action to your people-centric learning and development strategies. Featuring Dr. Casey Cox, Founder of Ascend Coaching Group, learn how to build trust amongst your employees, build a reputation for retaining top talent, and learn how you actually sit on the same side of the table as your team members.