The pandemic has changed work for so many of us, especially if your company has remote workers. Currently, 4.7 million people in the US work remotely at least part-time, and the numbers are still growing despite the pandemic slowing down.
Fortunately, because so many people have started working remotely, we know a little more about remote employee engagement. Let's talk about how to keep your remote employees engaged, even when you don't see them every day!
1. Give remote employees feedback
Yes, it's a lot easier to offer constructive feedback when you spend weeks in the same office with an employee. However, just because they are remote does not mean that feedback is not important. We recommend treating this as if they were in the office.
For most situations, try your best to offer performance reviews or meetings where you discuss feedback periodically. Another great idea is to help employees set performance goals in their careers, which can really help with engagement. This should take place every 3 to 6 months for the best results, and do your best to reach out in between.
When employees submit their work, it's always a good idea to respond with feedback, even if it's only a couple of sentences! Everybody loves positive reinforcement, so go out of your way to encourage employees from time to time. The best way is through Zoom or other video-calling apps for remote workers, as things like tone and body language can easily be lost through email or text.
2. Check in often
Don't give employees the impression that the only time you contact them is to give them feedback about their work or to ask them for something. When you were in the office, how often did you ask your employees general questions like "how's the family?" or "anything exciting planned for the weekend?"
If you used to do this in the office and felt it added value, take time for remote employee outreach regularly to show that you care. Connections are easily lost between remote workers, so one of the best solutions for everybody to chat would be an all-staff (or department) meeting through video chat. This way, everybody will get to see their coworkers' faces, get a chance to say hi, and everybody can be on the same page on upcoming projects.
Another option for this is the "virtual coffee break." Picking a time during the day when staff can optionally join in on a call and see their coworkers might be more popular than you think. The best way to find out is to talk to your staff and see what they say!
Of course, the last thing you want is to seem intrusive, so sending emails asking about personal matters may come off poorly. Instead, use these opportunities during meetings in small groups or one-on-one to check in with staff and see how they're doing. Always ask for feedback to see if there's anything you can do to make their remote work more engaging, and you'll be sure to win them over!
3. Online knowledge sharing
Another way to build cohesion among your employees with direct benefit to your business is to facilitate a knowledge-sharing discussion or workshop. This could be a fun training day, and you won't need to hire outside help. Instead, reach out to your employees and ask if they have any skills or techniques they'd like to share with their peers and make sure there aren't any repeats (ask staff to work together on the same topic if there are).
The best part is that this will work for any company with remote employees because there's been a learning curve for every new remote worker. There are challenges everybody has had to overcome in this transition, and it would be helpful to share what you've learned. Topics could include:
- How to research more quickly
- Remote customer outreach
- Cybersecurity tips
- Secure file-sharing
- Best software for remote work
- Stress management
The list goes on, and staff can take a creative license here if they have something valuable to share. This will go a long way to helping employees feel valued and promoting healthy company culture. Just plan the day far enough in advance, ask staff how long they'll need, and draft a schedule of speakers!
4. Have a weekly close-off
On Fridays, it's great to have a weekly close-off meeting for everyone to leave the week on a positive note. There will be bonus points if you can have these meetings a little early than when everyone ends work on Monday through Thursday, but that's not always an option. However, work-life balance is more important than salary to the majority of workers.
Try to make these fun and engaging, allowing workers to feel like the weekend has already begun. These meetings can even have themes like casual Friday, funny hats, or whatever you want! This is a great way to promote a healthy company culture for remote workers.
5. Engagement surveys
How can you try to fix a problem if you're unsure what it is? Send out a survey to staff to see how they're feeling about their work and leave as many questions open-ended as possible. Multiple choice questions are useful, but it's even better to offer text boxes for respondents to explain what they mean.
Once you have this information, take note of any patterns among your employees. If something seems to be overwhelming, then it's time to make a change.
Now that you know some employee engagement ideas for remote employees put them to use and keep your employees as engaged as possible. It has a direct impact on your company's performance, so spare no expense!
Stay up to date with our latest tips for your business, and feel free to contact us with any questions!