As organizations and employees adjust to the new remote normal, many are now realizing the long-term advantages of remote work. Remote workers are more productive, happier, and engaged.
Moreover, organizations that offer remote and flexible working perks to their employees tend to attract and retain top talent in a more effective way.
But you can only leverage the many benefits of remote work when you know how to successfully manage remote teams, which starts by empowering and engaging remote employees.
In this article, we take a look at how to engage remote teams effectively.
1. Communicate often as a group
Working remotely can be a rather lonely and isolating experience as most employees don’t get to communicate with their coworkers on a daily basis. Schedule periodic team meetings to ensure remote team members are always on the same page and they know what their colleagues have been up to.
You can also create different communication channels for both work-related and informal conversations to help team members get to know each other in a better way.
2. Proactive individual Check-ins
It’s pretty common for remote team members to feel disconnected and overwhelmed with all the challenges that come with remote work. Waiting for employees to speak up about their problems and issues may end up being too late.
It is up to managers to reach out to employees to make sure they are always engaged. While team meetings are a good place to catch up, some of the team members may not feel confident enough to air their grievances in front of the entire team.
Managers can start by setting up weekly or monthly 1:1 meetings with all the team members to catch up and discuss how they have been managing work and if there are any problems they have been facing lately. It is as simple as scheduling a 10-minute call and asking your employees how you can help them feel more connected to the team and get more productive.
3. Find ways to keep teams engaged
It’s important to always find unique and effective ways to keep remote teams engaged and involved. You can encourage employees to get to know their coworkers on a more personal level by organizing virtual coffee dates. Pair up employees randomly and ask them to schedule a 30-minute call. To break the ice, you can also provide employees with some initial questions that they can ask each other.
It is also a great idea to routinely organize virtual team building activities where remote employees can interact with their team members in a more social setting and improve team bonding.
4. Make collaboration fun for everyone
Effective remote team collaboration directly leads to better productivity and efficiency, but achieving effective collaboration isn’t as easy as it sounds. Remote employees may not feel comfortable enough to reach out to their coworkers or they might not know the right way to ask their team members for help.
To encourage remote collaboration, organizations need to find ways to make collaboration more seamless and fun for employees. You can do that by adding gifs, emojis, stickers, and memes to the instant messaging apps that you use at work. You can also celebrate even the smallest of milestones and recognize team members who greatly contributed in achieving those milestones. This isn’t just helpful in engaging remote employees but it also helps in retaining your company culture which remote employees don’t always get to experience while working from home (WFH Meaning).
5. Don’t manage, empower
Remote workers don’t want to be micromanaged. They want the flexibility to manage their own schedule and the freedom to work independently without being constantly disturbed. Moreover, they want to be a part of the decision making process.
That is why organizations should focus on empowering employees and giving them all the help and tools that they need to handle their work independently instead of trying to micromanage them. Companies can only empower remote employees by giving them the power to make their own decisions, communicate with their team members freely, and implement new ideas.
6. Share knowledge often
Knowledge sharing among employees is beneficial for both employee development and overall company success. But without the right planning and strategy, knowledge sharing can become almost impossible in a remote work environment.
For remote teams, it is essential to create a culture of knowledge sharing where employees are constantly encouraged to share their learnings with their coworkers and look for collaboration opportunities.
7. Prioritize peer feedback
Regular peer to peer feedback is a great way to connect and engage remote employees. Peer to peer feedback doesn’t just help employees improve bonding among them, but it also allows employees to look at things from a different perspective.
You can create a rewards and recognition program within the organization to encourage consistent peer to peer feedback in all the remote teams.
8. Organize virtual retreats
While nothing can replace face-to-face interactions, virtual retreats can be a great way for remote teams to get to know each other in a more social setting and in turn build camaraderie which can reflect back in the way they collaborate at work.
You can organize virtual team building games, quizzes, escape rooms, and even webinars to make the retreat more interesting. Adding prizes for all the games and quizzes can improve employee participation.
9. Promote flexible work schedules
Promoting flexible schedules can have a relaxing effect on remote employees as they are no longer pressed to spend a fixed number of hours in front of their laptops, even when they are not being productive. Flexibility in remote work means employees are free to change their working hours whenever they need to, as long as they get their work done by the speculated time.
Whether the remote employees are feeling burned out and need a break, or they have a doctor’s appointment during the day time, they can easily manage their work around their everyday schedule without feeling anxious about what their manager might think.
10. Pick the right remote work platform
The tools that you choose can make or break your remote team. The right tools can help remote employees overcome communication barriers, work closely with their colleagues, and improve productivity. On the other hand, the wrong tools can end up confusing employees and make them feel isolated from the team.
The idea here is to introduce tools that can make it as easy as possible for employees to manage their work and collaborate with others. Instead of adding a large number of tools to your application suite which can make it difficult for employees to keep up, opt for a digital workplace that can integrate all the business data and tools into one centralized platform and make it easier for employees to collaborate and communicate.
Managing remote employees is the key to successful organizations
It is clear that the remote work trend will only continue to grow in the coming years and it will define the way we look at modern offices. As a result, the success of organizations now depends on how effectively they can manage, empower, and engage remote employees.
Boosting engagement of your remote workforce becomes easier when you have the right remote work strategies and tools by your side. Managers and business leaders should have open communication and discussions with employees to learn more about the main challenges faced by them on a daily basis. Creating a digital culture where remote employees feel valued and appreciated is the only way to establish an engaged remote workforce.