It’s all too easy for remote workers to feel forgotten about. For instance, while physical colleagues might enjoy an informal drink with each other after work on a Friday, remote workers can’t always join in such an event, particularly when they are unplanned and impromptu. This can leave them feeling like they are second-class citizens within a company, which will undoubtedly affect their work and their desire to do their best for the organization.
How can companies counter the effects of physical distance to keep their remote workers engaged? The answer is probably not another Zoom call. There are instead a whole host of ways to show remote workers they are a valued member of the team. These are the secrets we think you can’t afford to miss.
Make remote workers feel included
Making remote workers feel included is easier said than done, but is undoubtedly the key to keeping them engaged in their work. Ensuring connectivity between remote workers, their managers, and the rest of the team is vital. This can be as simple as asking everyone what their plans are for the coming weekend or holiday – which also demonstrates that you expect your colleagues to enjoy their time off and not worry about work.
Asking these sorts of questions at the end of a work meeting will show your remote workers that you see them as more than just employees or machines. Remembering the next week to ask them how the event went, or what the museum they might be visiting was like, will further reinforce the idea that they are valued and considered members of the company.
One further advantage is that remote workers will feel that you care about their overall wellbeing, and are much more likely to come to you early on should they be facing any pressures or problems in their work or home lives, which you can then try and fix before they even become a problem.
Send your remote workers care packages
Sending your remote workers a care package on a regular basis is another way of keeping them engaged. Any care package you decide to send out doesn’t have to be costly either. Even a simple gift, such as a snack box filled with healthy edibles, demonstrate that a company is constantly thinking about their remote workers, and provides a physical link with management.
Beyond packages that might come through the post, companies can send out links to non-work-related articles that managers think workers might find interesting or useful. These can be as wide ranging as ways of improving concentration in a home office, to fun pictures of puppies. Such article sharing that trigger a whole raft of communication between work colleagues in different locations that wouldn’t otherwise exist, strengthening your virtual teams.
Schedule virtual meetups
While you don’t want your remote workers burnt out through excessive video conferencing, this technology does have its uses in ensuring such employees feel engaged. It’s important that they want to turn up to whatever is organized, so creating an online poll to discover the best time to host such an event, as well as exactly what it should entail is a great first step to show you are interested in the opinions of your employees.
Such a meet-up could be as simple as setting aside a scheduled hour during the working day for everyone to get together and chat. You might instead opt to have a virtual lunch together once a week – which has the added benefit of demonstrating the important of a work-life balance to your employees.
Feed into your remote workers’ interests
A growing number of companies are realizing the longer-term benefits of giving remote employees a small amount of time to pursue blue sky projects. While Jack and Ferdi aren’t suggesting throwing huge amounts of resources to such projects, there are indirect advantages to giving such space to remote workers, which is why everyone from Hewlett-Packard to Google allow their workers such time.
A minimum of 10% of work time is recommended, or 4 hours per week, although this could be given as a block of two days in the month in which remote workers can try out their ideas. You’ll find, if anything, that productivity increases despite the redirection of 10% of your employees’ working time. These schemes also foster an atmosphere of welcoming suggestions and improvements within the company at the same time, which will again inspire remote workers.
Ensuring your remote workers remain engaged is even more important, and potentially difficult, than with any physical employees you may have. However, follow our secrets to engaging remote employees, and you’ll see your company grow from strength to strength.