Article

Natasha Lane
Natasha Lane 12 February 2020

How to Keep Your Remote Employees Engaged and Included

When looking for collaborators, the most important attributes I search for include creativity and originality. Location and time zone rarely ever cross my mind. And that’s no surprise. After all, we live in a world that has ready access to a host of communication tools that can turn any two devices into a virtual collaboration space.

And this way of thinking is becoming a trend. Small and large companies alike are hiring expert workers that aren’t necessarily located in close proximity to their offices (think more along the lines of halfway across the world). 

Additionally, an increasing number of research data shows that employees are more likely to be productive if they are given the opportunity to work from home – even if it’s just for a couple of days per week. The reasons for this are simple. Being allowed to work from home cuts out distractions such as noise, impromptu meetings, or an overly engaging environment.

But for managers and small business owners who already have plenty of work on their plates, the logistics of running such a team can seem intimidating. After all, how do you keep remote employees engaged and involved? How do you keep a real connection with them, or help them improve at what they do so that your company can grow as well?

As it turns out, being successful at such an endeavor isn’t impossible. It just takes a little bit of adjusting.

Keeping track of their work

Businesses small and large are focused on growth and revenue. And these greatly depend on how your employees are spending their working hours. For some managers, even thinking about giving up control over this aspect of their business seems like a crazy idea. But, findings tend to disagree.

It’s been shown that remote workers tend to log more hours, and are even more engaged than their peers who work from an office. They’ll also try harder to connect with coworkers, and will be less likely to become complacent. But how do you make sure this is the case within your company?

Well, the first thing would be to invest in the right tools – and there’s no single formula you should adopt. Instead, you should look for the software and hardware solutions that will work best for you. Some people get by well enough by using nothing but a simple Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet to keep track of assignments. This powerful tool is completely customisable and can even be utilized to create all the reports you may need at the end of each month.

You can also go the way of project management software such as Trello, Basecamp, or Asana. These allow you to organize your workforce by assigning and keeping track of to-dos within projects. Furthermore, they’re great for collaboration as they allow users to exchange ideas, files, and even keep track of where their peers are within a certain process.

Ensuring motivation

Although the opportunity to work remotely, in itself, is a great motivator, this type of routine can come with a few hurdles. The biggest of these is the feeling of isolation. Because full-time remote employees don’t have the same amount of work-related face-to-face communication as in-house workers, they may be more susceptible to feeling isolated, stuck, or even face serious mental health consequences. 

But, that isn’t to say that overcoming such obstacles is impossible. It just requires forward-thinking solutions. Luckily, what people seek from their jobs isn’t much of a mystery:

  • Recognition for work done well 

When managing a team, the biggest motivator in your arsenal is going to be a truthful, encouraging approach to the work your employees do. In case you haven’t already, it’s crucial that you say goodbye to intimidation techniques and opt for positive reinforcement within your company. As a leader, it’s your job to set an example, and treating everyone with respect (and showing them that they are valued) is the best way to start.

  • Work-life balance 

The appeal of working remotely lies within its ability to provide employees with a better work-life balance. It allows them to pay equal attention to their personal wellbeing as to their professional endeavors. As an entrepreneur, your job is to encourage this approach. Keep in mind that it’s for your own benefit as well! Just think about the fact that employee wellbeing is directly related to productivity, turnover, and customer loyalty.

  • Opportunity to advance 

If you’re searching for ways to further increase motivation, it’s not a bad idea to examine your current practices. Think about this: do your remote employees have the same chances of receiving a promotion as your in-house workers? 

If you’re unsure of the answer, it’s time to reevaluate your future decisions and make sure you’re not leaving someone out just because of their location. In the end, the prospect of career advancement can work wonders in terms of engagement.

  • Invest in personal growth 

While Baby Boomers look for quality management and overall compensation in a job, Millennials (who you are most likely to hire) put learning opportunities first. This is invaluable data for any business owner, as it is a clear sign of what you should be focusing on. 

For remote workers, online courses are the ideal choice. If you happen to work with non-native English speakers, investing in something like an online IELTS course can be a great option. Not only will it offer them invaluable skills, but it will also help improve and further in-company communication.

Overcoming time-related obstacles

Let’s address the biggest issue with managing a remote team: time. 

The truth is, if your employees are located in Australia, while you work from the US, there’s going to be a pretty significant time difference you’ll have to learn how to get around. But the amazing thing is: you can make it work to your advantage.

Imagine this: if you are able to finish your workday and assign tasks accordingly, you open up space for clearer instructions and a better picture of the overall work that needs to be done. And let’s not forget about the absence of pressure on employees to get something done within minutes or hours. They can make sure they’re doing quality work on a task, and it will still be finished by the time you’re back at your work desk in the morning.

Yes, this sort of approach will take some effort getting used to. And it’s true that you will probably have to sacrifice real-time communication for most of your work. But the great thing is, you can truly make this approach work to your advantage.

Final thoughts

As for a more personal connection between you and your team? Well, there are still plenty of chances for communication you can create. From one-on-one Skype calls once or twice a week, to team building meet-ups, the options are limitless. And in the end, you may just find that a remote work situation suits you better as well.

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