11 Employee Engagement Strategies for Remote Workers
In 2020, remote work is no longer something rare and unusual. It is also not a privilege anymore; it’s the reality we’re all living in now. The pandemic has forced businesses to switch employees to working from home to protect their health. But another problem arose – how to engage employees when you don’t see them every day.
55% of businesses worldwide offer their employees the option to work remotely, meaning you’re not the first and definitely won’t be the last to encounter difficulties with remote teams. However, many businesses have succeeded in implementing remote employment, so following in their footsteps is a good option to consider. But don’t do this blindly – choose only what is best for your company.
How to improve employee management
We’ve made a list of best practices that can help you win your team over, improve relationships between colleagues, and as a result, create a healthy and engaging work environment.
The key is to incorporate these 11 employee engagement ideas into your everyday workflow. You may need help from your HR manager or agile coach with some of the initiatives, but mostly they just involve you and the people on your team.
1. Provide context
Team members need to understand the ultimate goal of the business and what their team as a unit brings to the table. Your goal as a team leader is to communicate the company’s strategy loud and clear. When you have your priorities straight, it’s easier to motivate your team to do their best. Your employees should also know their roles and be aware of what their coworkers are responsible for. In case something goes wrong, they will know who to ask for help.
2. Define measurable goals
Almost three-quarters of employees are more productive at home than in the office, meaning they complete more tasks and work longer hours. However, it’s mostly a result of remote employees’ wish to prove they’re not just chilling on their couch with a laptop. This overcompensating can lead to overworking and emotional burnout. To prevent this from happening, set clear and measurable goals including SMART goals:
- Choose your team’s KPIs so that they can see what they need to do to be effective.
- Define success and failure metrics. They help everyone to stay on track and work towards the main goal.
- Agree on deadlines and track task progress.
3. Set appropriate deadlines
Speaking of deadlines, when your employees repeatedly fail to meet them, this may not be their fault. One reason for being late to complete a task is setting inappropriate due dates.
Estimate the amount of work your team already has and define the deadline for additional tasks accordingly. Make it clear whether the due date is flexible or not. You should also take into account internet problems, a lack of essential tools, sick leave, and other possible emergencies.
Project management software will help you keep track of the team’s activities and how much time they spend on each task.
Recommended project management software:
4. Communicate regularly
At the core of successful remote work is regular communication. Face-to-face discussions are always better than email and chat, even if they are actually webcam-to-webcam conversations.
Regular check-ins help to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding work issues, and they increase the sense of belonging.
Promote the principles of open communication, too – if something concerns the whole team’s work, it should be discussed in a group chat. If someone asks a question – make sure it is answered, especially if it is addressed to you. Don’t leave your team hanging.
- Schedule weekly meetings with your team to discuss current issues.
- Set up monthly meetings to review results and prepare for the next month.
- Talk one-on-one if an employee needs personal guidance.
- Introduce daily check-ins in chat threads if you need regular updates about ongoing tasks.
- Create an agenda for every meeting and stick to it.
Recommended communication tools:
5. Enable knowledge sharing
Many remote workers, especially newcomers, may struggle to find relevant information. Delayed communication doesn’t help either.
The solution is to create a virtual library where any company employee can find what they need. The knowledge base can include information about the company and its staff, instructions for the tools needed for work, internal and external educational materials, and corporate culture guidelines. Encourage your team to expand the knowledge base, share interesting use cases, and help each other.
Secret tip: among the most effective and creative ways to provide your workers with information are video guides. They work great as program tutorials and introductory courses.
Recommended video-editing tools:
6. Make your team members feel valued
Recognition plays a huge role in remote employees’ motivation to do their best. When they succeed in their task, thank them for their input personally. Praise them in a group chat if they did something meaningful for the company – participated in a conference or closed an immense deal.
Negative feedback is also a necessary part of the process. This doesn’t mean that you should publicly lecture your employees. If someone fails, however badly, talk to them privately, and find ways to turn the situation around together.
Making your staff feel valued goes beyond just work topics. Is it someone’s birthday? Say a few kind words in a chat or a one-on-one dialogue.
7. Help them grow
Remote work is a great opportunity for your employees to become more independent and organized. They will learn to plan their days and improve their time management to complete their tasks on time.
Encourage them to make their own decisions and try out new things. Don’t give unsolicited advice as to how you would do this or that task. If they’re doing it differently, this doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong. Too much micromanagement can undermine your team’s morale and make them feel incompetent and untrustworthy.
8. Respect time differences
Accept that your team may be scattered across the country or even around the world. Your working hours might be significantly different.
Arrange meetings at a time that works for all team members and agree not to call or text with work-related questions after certain hours. It may be difficult to keep each other’s time zone in mind at all times, but there are tools to help with that, too.
Recommended time zone converters:
Other employee engagement activities
If the first eight strategies are aimed at improving work processes, the next three focus more on interpersonal communication. Your employees don’t necessarily have to become best friends, but getting along to achieve shared goals is crucial for the business to be successful.
9. Promote work-life balance
It is important to set boundaries between work and personal life, both for you and your team. Learn how to separate these two things and teach others how to do it. Don’t call your employees after hours, and don’t let them bother you when you’re on vacation unless it’s really urgent. Respect each other’s privacy and the right to rest.
10. Encourage non-work communication
Most remote workers suffer from a lack of casual conversations. And with everyone being stuck at home, it is even harder to fulfill the need for small talk.
You can create a separate chat channel to discuss only non-work-related topics, share stories and funny videos – a great alternative to the water cooler or breakroom.
It is also good practice to start every meeting by asking your team members how they are doing and actually listen to them. It will help you bond and become a solid team.
11. Organize company retreats
As convenient as they seem, online meetings can become drudgery very quickly. It is important to meet in person if it is possible. And if these meetings are not strictly work-related, your employees will have time to get to know each other better, which is another great team-building opportunity.
Unfortunately, 2020 has not been exactly the right time to have such events, so keep this tip in mind to use later, when it is safe for everyone to gather in public places. Until then, you can have fun on Skype, Zoom, or any other video conferencing tool by chatting and playing team building games after work or drinking coffee in the morning.
Examples of remote team-building activities:
- Themed video calls: choose characters and make costumes.
- Morning exercises, yoga, and meditation.
- Interviews with team members.
- Charades and quizzes.
Keeping your team engaged can be challenging when everyone is working remotely and you have fewer opportunities to interact in person. So, you need to understand how to keep them motivated from a distance. And if you get the importance of this aspect of remote working, you are already halfway there.
Employee engagement strategies can completely change the workplace. Your employees will feel secure and fulfilled, and the company will be an attractive prospect for new candidates.