Here's the fact, to successfully manage a remote team that is void of slackers and disinterested members, you need to have a standard management procedure in place.
To pull this off, you'll need a sustainable system that works for every member of your team, the help of certain apps that lets you manage your business remotely, and of course, strategies to keep your remote employees engaged.
Developing that system is easy, the apps you need are at your disposal, but engaging a remote team may be a bit difficult.
If you are already struggling with that last part, here's how to keep remote employees engaged.
Why Engaging Your Remote Employees Is Important
How To Engage Remote Employees
How To Measure Remote Employees' Engagement
Employee engagement is an essential part of every company culture, and is beneficial to both employers and employees as well.
A good employee engagement culture, makes your workers feel like they are part of a team, their efforts and input are appreciated by the company, and it prevents high employee turnover which is a common problem faced by companies. It breeds loyalty.
When handling a remote team, building employee engagement requires a high level of trust between you and them, including the fulfillment of promises and meeting of deadlines.
One disengaged remote employee, can upset the foundation of your whole remote work system.
Here's why engaging your remote employees is important:
1. It Promotes Shared Company Values
Engaged employees, feel like important members of the company whose contributions are helping the company grow.
A front desk receptionist who acts as a point of contact for customers when they come to the company if properly engaged, feels like she is contributing to the growth of the company by helping them maintain a good relationship between they and their customers.
Engagement makes employees feel more inclined to work towards sharing your company's values and upholding your vision.
2. It Builds Trust And Loyalty
Building trust and loyalty in the workplace, should be a collaborative effort between employees and employers.
Engaged employees are loyal and care more about the welfare and development of the company.
3. Increases Productivity
A happy and engaged employee who is actively involved in company life is productive and delivers on tasks better than colleagues who are disengaged and feel like they are not part of the team.
4. Promotes Inclusiveness
70% of remote workers who are unhappy and less productive, reported that they felt disengaged and left out.
This number isn't shocking, because most remote workers don't get to be a part of some office activities and can't socialize with their colleagues, so they feel like they are not part of the company.
Making sure that all the remote workers on your team are focused on executing their various tasks is something you should prioritize as an employer.
To do that, you can use these strategies to engage your remote employees:
1. Implement Communication Strategies
Communication is important when it comes to managing a remote team. Just because you can't see what each employee is doing at a particular time, doesn't mean you should be completely cut off from their daily activities.
Make it a habit to communicate regularly with your remote employees. If not all the time, then you can set aside specific times of the day or week or even months to host virtual meetings, places calls, and exchange messages.
You can also implement communication strategies such as:
Using Chat Programs
Use apps like Slack or Google Hangout to keep in touch with your team members in different locations.
With apps like this, you can send messages faster and even curb the distance barrier between you and your remote employees.
Scheduled Calls And Virtual Meetings
Scheduling calls and virtual meetings with the help of apps like Zoom or Skype, makes it possible for remote employees to regularly check in with you and also discuss whatever issues they may be facing with work.
If you happen to have team members in different time zones, then a schedule that factors in the different time zones and availability of such remote employees is what you'll need to drive engagement.
Also, you can use an app like Teleport Sundial to manage communications with members in different countries.
Encourage Your Team To Embrace Virtual Connections
For your plan of scheduling calls and virtual meetings to work, all members of your remote team have to be tech savvy and also willing to embrace this system.
To make sure you are all on the same page with communications, you can make it mandatory that remote employees have apps like Slack, Zoom or Google Hangout on their phones and laptops.
Don't Micromanage Your Remote Employees
Even more important than communication is trust when it comes to successfully running a remote team.
While it's important that you maintain steady communication with your remote employees, but micromananing them or demanding that they check in all the time, makes you look paranoid and distrustful.
2. Increase Employee Participation
Besides effective communication, another way to engage your team is to ensure that they interact with other workers within their team and outside it as well.
Employees should be made to participate in activities going on in the company and be present at all times.
Here are other ways you can increase participation amongst remote employees:
Create A Good Onboarding Experience
If you hire a new remote team that needs to come to the office for the first time to receive training, then you have to make their onboarding experience a good one.
Since that will be their first time connecting with other employees they won't be seeing all the time, their onboarding should be highly interactive and portray your company's environment as friendly and warm.
Rent A Communal Workspace
Not that it is necessary, but if you must, you can rent out a small workspace where your remote team can come to work whenever they need to get away from their houses.
It can also serve as place where employees who feel the need to, can come to connect and collaborate with other members of your company.
This communal area can be customised by you, complete with refreshments, and other equipment your workers will be needing for work.
Utilize Your Employees' Potentials
It is easy for an employee to get disengaged from work, if they are not regularly assigned tasks or only called up once in a while.
To avoid this, assign more tasks that play to the strengths of your remote employees and utilize their potentials so that they feel valued and important to the company.
Doing this adds to the career experience of such workers, creates room for more communication between them and you, and lets them know that their contribution is valued.
Organize Fun Virtual Activities
Just because your remote employees don't come to the office, doesn't mean they should be left out of game night, happy hour, karaoke Thursday, or any our fun activities enjoyed by full-time staff.
For them, you can organise fun virtual activities like a book club, online game tournaments that hosts multiple players, or chats that are not about work.
Basically, host any activity that can provide some relief from a hectic work week or day.
Plan A Company Retreat
A company retreat will be a good opportunity for your remote team to bond with other members of the company, get to know them better.
This retreat can be hosted at the beginning of every year, or at the end of the year. It should be packed with knowledge about company culture or facts remote employees didn't know about your company.
It should also have fun team bonding activities.
3. Appreciate Your Remote Employees
Your remote employees shouldn't be left out of appraisals or benefits like promotions or pay raises which are given to workers with outstanding performance.
Always appreciate and recognize the efforts of your remote employees to show them that you care and that you acknowledge that they are a part of your company.
Here are other ways you can appreciate your remote employees:
Use Questionnaires To Get To Know Employees
You can pass around questionnaires for employees to fill in personal details about themselves like their birthdays, hobbies, and likes.
From the information you gathered, you can know gifts to get your employees on their birthdays and activities they'll enjoy.
Create A Budget For Furnishing Home Offices
A memorable way to appreciate your remote employees, would be to send them gifts for their home offices.
It could be a desk and a chair or gadgets like a laptop or scanner to enhance their work experience.
To ensure that whatever you buy is cost effective, you can create a budget that covers the gift expenses of remote workers.
Treat Remote Employees Specially
Whenever remote employees come into the office, you can go all out to make sure that they are treated like royalty.
The entire team can have an outing whenever they come around, or you could buy them their favourite food.
Give Remote Employees Specific Benefits
You can set up surveys for remote workers to answer questions about challenges they face at work and what can be done by the company to fix those problems.
Benefits like health insurance, home office equipment, internet allowance, and a communal workspace can be made available to remote employees.
They are a lot of strategies put in place to enhance remote employee engagement.
However, if you don't measure these engagement strategies or track employee performance following their implementation, you wouldn't know how effective they are or which ones can work for your remote team.
So, how do you measure remote employees' engagement? Which tools can you use to do that?
Pulse surveys are a good way to measure employees' experience at work.
The survey can be as simple as 5-10 questions created to gauge employees' emotions and the aspects of work they would like to see changes and improvement.
eNPS (employee net promoter score) is a two-question survey tool used to measure employee engagement.
This survey tool uses a scoring system and keyword analysis to give companies performance ratings and insights as to how their employees feel about the company.
eNPS aids you in tracking employee satisfaction with your company and understanding how you can improve employee engagement.
3. One-On-One Interviews
A good old-fashioned one-on-one interview is another sure way to know what your employees think about your company.
Since you can't invite them over to have this interview face to face, you can pick a time to discuss individually with each remote worker or as a team via any communication channel set up by your company.
During this interview, employees can provide feedback as to how their telecommuting experience is going so far, they can also discuss challenges they face and how you can help them.
Keeping remote employees engaged may seem impossible and look like an opportunity for such workers to slack off during work.
But with the right strategies and tools running a remote team and keeping them engaged will be a walk in the park for you.