Remote working can throw up a cavalcade of complications for managers. And when team members aren’t sharing the same space, the sense of connection you get through office-based socializing will invariably evaporate.
This means you need to be proactive in planning and implementing strategies that will ensure employees are emotionally engaged, even if they’re working from home. Here are just a few ideas for how to achieve this in your own business.
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Roll Out A Retention Platform
It’s wise to codify and standardize your employee engagement so that it benefits every team member equally, which is where using a specially designed retention platform comes into play.
Modern services like Caroo, Bonusly and Blueboard are all built around the idea that people deserve to receive recognition for the things they contribute to their employer, whether they work in the office or operate remotely.
From giving staff the chance to award colleagues with virtual accolades, to offering tangible prizes, these retention platforms can really boost team morale. In turn, this will enhance job satisfaction and prevent remote workers from moving on to greener pastures.
Improve Their Work-Life Balance
Too often you hear remote employee engagement programs talk about making businesses more rigid in the way they manage home workers. In reality, there is no point in offering this (remote working) perk if you then sour it with an insistence on certain strict policies that make no sense in a remote work context.
Emotional connection with remote workers is only possible if you acknowledge the need to provide a flexible approach to balancing their professional commitments against their personal responsibilities.
So letting them choose schedules and shifts that are molded around their home life, and being discerning about which meetings and events they need to attend, will demonstrate a degree of care and compassion not seen in many businesses.
Touch Base Often
Employees can become disconnected from the rest of the team if their remote work leaves them isolated at home, with only infrequent interactions with their colleagues.
As a manager, you must go above and beyond to bridge this gap, and schedule in catch-ups that keep you up to speed with individuals.
It is not enough to assume that inviting remote employees to whole team meetings via virtual meeting platforms will serve the same purpose. Lots of people don’t thrive over video conferencing, so you need the one-to-one approach in addition to this so that statuses can be assessed and issues can be ironed out.
It’s equally important not to overburden employees with the expectation of being checked on throughout the day or the week. Schedule your private meetings sensitively, and make sure that you are actively listening to what they have to say, not just bowling ahead with your own agenda.
Likewise you need to make it clear that remote team members don’t have to hold off on giving feedback until the allotted time of your meeting; if they have an issue, encourage them to raise it ASAP. This will help to quell any concerns and provide them with a clear sense that their opinions are valued.
Remember The Importance Of The Social Aspect
As mentioned, the traditional workplace is innately social, and colleagues form emotional bonds with one another by dint of sharing the same space day after day.
Where working remotely is concerned, the same intimacy of connection cannot be achieved without an active effort on the part of managers.
At this point in time, most businesses will have got to grips with the need to plan social events for remote teams, giving them a set time during which they can hang out together without needing to worry too much about professional matters.
However, while organized fun is all well and good, it is also important to remember that unstructured socializing has to be facilitated, without impinging too much on productivity.
Resisting the temptation to dive straight into the points on the agenda during virtual meetings, and instead giving attendees five minutes in which to chew the fat up top, is one way to go about this.
Empowering employees with different means of communication, such as instant messaging, is another way to replicate the in-office social experience of a casual chat.
A combination of active and passive tools and tactics will help you engage emotionally with remote workers, and can even help you stay connected with your team members and your organization if you are also working from home.
That is not to say that every strategy will work for every team or individual within it, so being bespoke in your approach and changing things up if they aren’t working is also necessary in order to get the positive results you crave.