How to Keep Remote Workers Motivated and Engaged

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Key Takeaways

1. How do you keep remote workers engaged? Now that companies worldwide are working remotely, managers and employees are facing new challenges in their relationships.

2. Your turnover rate and bottom line will reflect the success of your remote workers. It pays off to do everything you can to keep remote employees happy and engaged.

3. Although the prevalence of remote work is new, the ways to ensure employees are happy and productive are not novel but call for time-earned principles.

Communication is critical

When your team is working remotely, check in with them regularly by phone and video conference.

Remote employees are 3x more likely to be engaged if they receive feedback from their manager at least a few times per month. And a manager’s meaningful feedback has a more significant impact on their engagement than on in-house workers.

Find out if they are hampered in their work by their remote location.

Determine if they need more feedback from the team to accomplish their goals.

Research has shown that in the last ten years, the number of remote workers has increased by 80%.

Remote workers are more productive than their traditional in-office colleagues, cheaper to maintain for the organization because of the significant decrease in overhead costs, and drastically increase organizational leaders’ hiring options.

We do not know how long working remotely will last, and for many companies, it is here to stay.  Tech companies like Facebook and Shopify are giving employees the option to work from home indefinitely.

Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 56% of U.S. workers have jobs that are at least partially compatible with working remotely.

According to a Gallup poll, half of Americans who now work remotely said they want to continue doing so even after business restrictions are lifted. It becomes essential that working remotely for your company is a positive experience, one in which openness, honesty, and flexibility are the norm.

One useful way to communicate clearly with staff about remote work arrangements is to introduce a remote work policy

Encourage productivity

Gallup reported that those who spend 60% to 80% of their time doing remote work are the most likely to be engaged. And the less time they spend in the office, the more progress they say they make.

Not only is the commute to an office a deterrent for wanting to work in the company locations, but time-wasters such as office politics and distracting small talk can limit on-site workers’ productivity.

A remote worker does encounter challenges but of a different nature. Without the chance for face-to-face discussions about tasks, confusion can arise. A worker may be uncertain about project instructions or lack the expertise required for an assignment. She may feel that she is out-of-the-loop on a team’s progress and unsure how to address the issue.

Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield, co-authors of “Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High” conducted a study that is relevant. They discovered that 84% of remote workers hide workplace concerns for a few days before informing higher-ups, and 47% admitted that they didn’t address issues for more than a week.

You can encourage productivity by letting your team know that remote workforces all employees to adjust. As a manager, listen to the challenges each person faces. Let each employee bring you his or her concerns without fear of retaliation or backlash.

You can do this by promoting trust with your remote employees. Enhance confidence by getting to know each person as an individual and inquiring about his family, health, or weekend activities. Be willing to discuss your family, well-being, and leisure pursuits, too. When you are open with others, they will be honest with you.

Foster personal connections

Some of your salespeople may not have regular conversations with marketing in another location. This is true even if you are not a global organization but have employees in different offices throughout a city or state. 

Encourage cross-departmental discussions, even if you are not solving a particularly thorny problem. Let your employees feel comfortable talking to others in distinct departments so that when a real problem arises, they can work together to solve it.

Be able to recognize when an employee feels isolated and when he feels lonely. Be willing to have a personal conversation to determine if he is connecting to his co-workers in a healthy and productive way.

Connect workers to your mission

Do your employees have a strong sense of your company’s mission?  If you are in the hospitality business, do they feel a sense of pride when checking in guests to your hotel?  If you are in tech, are they always trying to improve themselves with new tools available?  In retail, do they advertise your products on their social media accounts?  A sense of pride in your mission and your products helps to keep remote employees happy and engaged.

When appropriate, assign more responsibilities to your remote workers and give credit for a well-executed job. The increased responsibility and recognition contribute to the employee’s connection to your company and a sense of purpose.

Adjust your management style for remote workers

Gallup reported that managers drive 70% of an individual’s engagement. Leaders must find ways to best support them as individuals.

There are three things that managers can do to keep remote workers engaged:

Individualization

A manager can figure out how to create the best structure for remote employees, e.g., Are phone calls in mid-morning better than in the late afternoon for a worker with children at home? If you’re not sure, ask. Be aware of your remote worker’s personal needs and try to adjust your interactions with him to fit those needs.

Communication

As a manager, is your communication clear and is it delivered impartially, without a curt tone or the urgency that a text involves? Try to be extra sensitive when communicating with a remote worker and follow up to written emails with a phone conversation if something is not clear.

Accountability

It is hard to keep employees accountable when they are working out of the office unless they have a deliverable. Some managers use online task or project management tools to have visibility on what is important now. Managers can also schedule check-in meetings for specific projects to encourage progress on work. Other managers ask helpful coaching questions such as, “What challenges might you face in getting this done?”  to engage workers in discussing a project.

For more information on managing a remote workforce see Managing Remote Teams: Tips On Running A Virtual Office Efficiently.

A Global PEO can help keep workers engaged

If your company is expanding into international locations, you might choose to select a Global PEO. Instead of setting up a new company in the international area, a Global PEO can go a long way towards keeping your workers happy and engaged. If you have a team of independent contractors or freelancers. With the Global PEO, the freelancer has the choice of going on its payroll. That will save the independent contractor or freelancer the trouble of taking care of his taxes and benefits.

A Global PEO can keep your full-time employees engaged, too. It can use its economies of scale and local market connections to access better insurance and other benefits packages. Global PEOs understand local labor laws, which will also be advantageous to your workers to ensure they will receive all their employee protections.

Global PEOs also have local employment market knowledge, which will ensure that remote employees receive a competitive compensation package.

Find out more about how hiring a remote worker through a Global PEO solution at Hiring Remote Workers: Tips To Connect With The Best Talent

Support and reinforcement

Now, more than ever, give credit where credit is due to reinforcing your employees’ feeling that they are part of a team.

A research study suggested that remote workers experience strengthened and sustained workplace engagement levels more when working environments where they have a personal connection to the organization’s mission and vision and where they feel the work culture is familial.

In a recent study, Slack found that 85% of workers want to feel closer to their remote colleagues. But the effects of detachment aren’t limited to interoffice relationships—employee engagement takes a hit, too.

If you haven’t already given remote employees a stipend for their home office equipment, consider doing so now. Recognize how their ability to work from home is helping your company succeed.

Multiple communications channels

How do you keep employees focused and engaged from a distance?  

The key lies in creating multiple communication channels. Because everyone communicates differently, developing various ways to interact will ensure managers collaborate effectively with all team members. Among the media suggested:

Create podcasts for employees. Podcasting is also a cheaper, faster, and easier channel to distribute information internally than many other distribution methods.

Use chat programs for workers. They are also conducive to discussions needed about a plan, and employees feel connected.

Hold regular check-ins via phone or video. Make sure your remote employees have a chance to connect with others who are not on their teams, to become familiar with their roles, and to aid in future troubleshooting.

Set up extracurricular activities for your employees. Workers can feel connected to each other if they can play bridge together online or join a book club via video. Be creative and find out what appeals to your staff.

Disseminate news about company developments quickly is another priority—an email blast to employees, a Zoom conference call, or a press release shared with employees can keep workers connected and knowledgeable about corporate affairs. Aligning individual work with organizational purpose and values increases employee engagement and well-being by 49%.

Conduct surveys – Whether you use monthly surveys, pulse surveys, or send questions via internal social media platforms, you can gauge how remote workers are faring by asking relevant questions and taking steps to address their concerns.

For companies to maintain a motivated, productive workforce, HR professionals need to find the best methods to gather and interpret employee feedback, including from remote workers, and make changes accordingly,

Emphasize Wellness 

Does your company have programs in place to encourage fitness and wellness? Try scheduling some online Zoom classes in aerobics or yoga to get remote workers involved and active. Isolation can lead to inactivity, which can hamper productivity. Healthy workers are productive ones.

Everyone is limited in exercise options when gyms and pools are closed but Zoom can bring an aerobics class into your remote worker’s home and help him jump-start his day.

As a manager, the more you can encourage the work-life balance with your remote workers, the more they will feel appreciated as individuals and feel motivated to succeed. Emphasize that you don’t expect them to be on call 24/7.

Conclusion

Deloitte noted that although many organizations have faced challenges in adjusting their management styles during the pandemic era, lessons learned about employee engagement will bring about positive employee mindsets.

This time provides us all opportunities to learn how to keep remote workers happy and engaged. As a manager, emphasize that you are aware of and sensitive to your remote worker’s personal needs.

Deloitte said that the development of emotional connections between employees and their place of work, post-pandemic, will lead to lower employee turnover, improved productivity, and motivation.

Fostering these connections requires a commitment from senior management and the C-suite to adopt the above styles and rethink their current working culture.

Keeping remote workers engaged and happy will be worth it in employee productivity and profits.

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