One thing has been clear over the last few years: the workplace and the way people work has shifted.
While most businesses still have company locations and people working in-office, many organizations have a large percentage of remote employees. And many companies are exclusively becoming a remote-only organization as well.
The transition started prior to COVID-19, but the pandemic has caused more companies to rethink their approach and boost their interest in a remote working culture.
Yet, many companies might be hesitant still with having full-time employees working from home or allowing remote work a few days a week. Company leaders naturally want to ensure their employees are getting the work done, are connected to each other, and have a high level of engagement.
Although there may be some concerns with remote work, there are ways to ensure your company keeps remote employees engaged all the while improving their work experience.
Stats About Remote Work
Before I dive into some tips to keeping your remote employees engaged, I wanted to share some statistics around remote work. It’s been a hot topic for the last few years, and certainly the idea of remote employees has sprung up like crazy with the recent Covid-19 pandemic.
But having some of this data accessible and in the back of your mind, can be helpful when it comes to understanding a remote work environment. Let’s dive in!
- 44% of employees say that part of their team is full-time remote. (Buffer)
- While 30% of people report working remotely full-time, 18% work remotely one to three times per week. (Owl Labs)
- The amount of people who work remotely at least once per week has grown by 400% since 2010. (GetApp)
- If they could, 99% of people would choose to work remotely, at least part-time, for the rest of their careers. (Buffer)
- 83% of workers, remote or on-site, say that a remote work opportunity would make them feel happier at their job. (Owl Labs)
- 77% of remote employees say they’re more productive when working from home. (CoSo Cloud)
- Upwork’s “Future Workforce Report” predicts that 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028.
- More than half of remote employees say they feel disconnected from in-office employees (CoSo Cloud)
- 56% of employees have a job where at least some of what they do could be done remotely (Global Workplace Analytics)
- In a Future of Work survey of company managers, 78 percent of the respondents listed “flexible schedules and telecommuting” as their most effective non-monetary ways to increase employee retention.
- 90% of employees say that flexibility in their work arrangements contributes to their morale.
The above is only a handful of interesting statistics around remote work, but this should give you an idea of the state of remote employees and where telecommuting is heading.
Tips to Keep Remote Employees Engaged
As remote work continues to become the norm and as more employees seek flexibility in their routine, one challenge you might be concerned about is keeping everyone optimally engaged.
Questions that may come to mind include: How can our organization keep employees connected to the company when they are not in the office? What can our organization do to make sure they are happy and morale is strong? How do we know what is or is not working?
Whether your company has recently transitioned to remote work due to the pandemic, are transitioning to remote culture regardless of COVID-19, or have been remote or work-flexible but are still looking to improve — the below tips will help ensure employees stay engaged, connected, and collaborating no matter where they are working.
1. Make employee recognition a priority
While your organization should be recognizing employees’ work, accomplishments, and ideas regardless — it’s just as important for your remote team. It’s easy to neglect this area, especially as your team is not working in-person.
40% of employed Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were recognized more often.
Find ways to ensure employees feel like they belong and matter to your organization, even if they are not working in-person. Since there are less personable interactions, your company should make a concrete effort to make recognitions known and more frequent.
2. Work on creating a workplace community
When employees are working remotely, it’s easy for them to feel isolated or siloed from everyone.
Certainly they may be closely connected to their individual teams or departments, but remote work can make it difficult to feel like they are part of the workplace community.
Put a focus on creating a spot for all employees to engage, connect, and share information with each other. Working on employees getting to know other departments and feel part of the company, instead of just their own team.
3. Increase communication efforts
It’s no secret that employee communications is key for employee engagement, especially for remote workers.
Too often employees feel left out or unsure of company news or priorities. And with remote work, it’s even easier for that information to be lost.
Check in with teams more frequently, provide consistent feedback, start scheduling recurring all-team virtual meetings or hangouts, ensure executives and managers are asking individual employees questions about how they are feeling or what is missing, increase the ways to distribute information about the company, new hires, state of the business, etc.
With remote employees, it’s better to overly check-in than to passively coast by and hope they are still engaged.
Every company will have a unique way of improving remote engagement, but it’s imperative that every organization that is remote recognizes how valuable communications are.
4. Choose the right tools for your remote employees
Since your remote employees are going to be working potentially from various locations and different time zones, you want to ensure they have access to the right tools.
Naturally, email is still important but as far as communication goes, it will be lacking. Instead, you’ll want to find the right balance of technology potentially including some of the well-known solutions like Slack, Trello, InvisionApp, Google Drive, Workplace by Facebook, and Zoom.
But, your company and needs are unique so the additional tools you need can vary.
Another resourceful tool is an employee advocacy platform like EveryoneSocial, which is the central hub for employees and your company to keep everyone connected, informed, creating, and sharing. Essentially, this helps collaboration, communications, and allows employees to share information to their own social networks.
5. Don’t forget a work from home policy
While you should hire people you trust and not enforce too many workplace rules, it’s still important to have a work from home policy in place.
The goal here is to not be restricted, but to establish what is expected from remote employees and to layout what is expected by working from home.
This doesn’t need to be overcomplicated, but your policy should be easily accessible by all employees and clear for everyone to understand.
By having this, it ensures that everyone is on the same page and aware of what is or isn’t allowed while working from home. Plus, it avoids miscommunication and confusion.
6. Make participation and collaboration fun
One challenge for in-office employees and remote employees is feeling like their participation and collaboration matters.
Without a platform to put their contributions and wins into the greater context of the team and company mission, remote work can feel abstract or like a difficult chore.
Employee advocacy is perfect for contextualizing remote work and keeping everyone engaged, not to mention it’s also fun.
Create an environment where all remote employees can contribute ideas, thoughts, and get involved in any company initiative. When their ideas, feedback, and creativity is heard and praised — you’ll find more employees interested in collaborating and getting involved with the work culture.
This builds a stronger bond and improves overall employee engagement.
7. Provide home office perks and budgets
A great way to keep remote employees more engaged is to offer some home office perks and ensure your company has a budget for this.
If you are completely a remote company, then your organization probably has a surplus of cash saved from an office space. Use this to ensure employees have what they need to be successful.
Many companies or organizations that offer remote working options will provide a certain amount per employee to make their home office comfortable and have the right tools for success. Could be for chairs and a desk or any other specific supplies they may need to be their most productive at home.
8. Create team bonding communities
So besides creating a workplace community, a great way to engage remote employees is through other groups of interests or “mini communities.”
These allow your employees to bond and connect with other teams of people with similar interests. Think of it like different clubs and activities that can better engage people at your company.
For example, starting an outdoor group, for those that love things like hiking, mountain biking, etc. It creates a break from just work, engages their interests, and lets them connect and share with colleagues who have similar interests.
This is something that is easily accomplished in EveryoneSocial. Groups can be created and employees can join, share insights and content, comment, and tag other employees. And this creates great discussions and engages employees further.
For instance, we have groups like Music Nerds, Travelgram, Pets of EveryoneSocial, and others.
“Being part of a community, even a virtual one, helps chip away at isolation and reduces anxiety. Remote workers should seek out solidarity by building a support system of friends, family members, and other teleworkers.” (Forbes)
Measuring Remote Employee Engagement:
Great, so you have some tips to better engage remote employees. You’ll want to weave those tips into a strategy that will ensure remote teams feel embraced, recognized, and will boost their engagement.
Keep in mind however, measuring the results is just as important as finding that right balance and creating a strategy. Afterall, how else will you know if your company’s efforts are working as they should?
So along with your plan should be a way to measure and understand how your employee engagement efforts are working on remote workers. The best way to measure the effectiveness of remote employees and engagement is via strong communication.
The first way is to use surveys as a tool to understand how remote employees feel about the current state of the workplace, information, feedback, career opportunities, etc. These do not necessarily need to be long or complicated, but can give you direct insights of what is working and where improvements are needed.
Other ways that can help gauge employee engagement efforts is to have management connect with individual employees on their teams on a communications or advocacy platform.
Encourage open and honest discussions to ensure that every remote employee feels valued and understands how their engagement contributes to the company’s success.
By accommodating the future of remote work with new policies and communication solutions, company executives and team leaders can gain valuable information to improve overall employee engagement.