How to Engage Remote Employees in 2020: 5 Smart Ways

Posted by Guest on September 8, 2020

Smart solutions on how to engage remote employees
Guest

Guest

Published on September 8, 2020

Employee engagement represents the personal investment and emotional commitment employees have towards their company.  Engaged employees love their jobs and therefore incorporating smart solutions on how to engage remote employees is a win-win situation!

Engaged employees work harder, stay with the company longer, and are more productive. Gallup Studies indicates that higher employee engagement has a definite impact on key business outcomes, including a company’s profitability.

That’s why successful companies around the world are always taking measures to boost levels of employee satisfaction and engagement. They organize training workshops and one-on-one coaching, offer more flexibility such as remote work options, and so on.

However, the strategies on how to engage remote employees can present some challenges. Remote teams have their own set of challenges, which dampen morale and engagement. Communication can be confusing, team coordination can be weak, and lack of physical proximity can lead to dampened team spirit, low trust, and feelings of isolation.

All these issues have solutions. Here are five smart ways to keep your remote team engaged.

1. Use Agile to Manage Your Remote Team

Engaging remote employees to coordinate with each other while working on complex projects can be difficult. Ineffective communication, unclear directions, and poor intra-team and inter-departmental coordination lead to confusion, misunderstandings, and conflict — all of which are bad for employee engagement. Implementing an Agile project management approach can minimize these roadblocks and boost engagement.

The Agile approach is centred around the principles of adaptability, mutual accountability, continuous improvement, frequent communication, and empowerment of every single employee. That’s why it’s perfect for remote teams.

For instance, the Agile methodology allows people to communicate openly and frequently discuss roadblocks. Team members can openly share their challenges in scrum meetings, without fear of judgment. That’s because they know that the entire team is there to support them in working towards a solution, rather than playing a blame game. This sort of support is extremely vital in a remote team, where people often feel isolated and wish that they had more help.

Creating an atmosphere of trust and efficient coordination between stakeholders from different departments is always tricky, and more so in a remote setting. The Agile approach also includes frameworks for managing cross-functional teams, which can help.

For example, if your product management team has to work closely with the marketing team, the Agile methodology ensures that these stakeholders have clear and efficient ways to communicate, provide their inputs, make decisions, be debriefed, and so on.

The Agile methodology includes all the key engagement activities that HR experts talk about — frequent communication, mutual accountability, coaching, etc.

2. Invest in Frequent Training

The more knowledgeable your team members are about their roles and the domain, the more productive they will be. That’s why successful companies are always investing in training and development. This includes on-the-job mentoring and shadowing, as well as regular training workshops on technical and soft skills.

Employees look forward to training programs to help build the vital skills they need to grow in their careers. They also function as team-building opportunities where team members can develop better relationships amongst themselves. That’s why they are a great remote employee engagement tool.

In a remote team, you won’t be able to assemble a group of people for a training workshop in a boardroom. But why let that limitation stop you?

You can always host live webinars and organize a few workshops a month. In fact, live webinars can often be far more effective than conventional workshops. You can have far more attendees, and these webinars can be easily recorded so people can refer to the videos later on.

But why live webinars?

Because that will allow participants to ask questions, interact with the trainer, and feel like part of a live group event. You can also make these webinars interactive like virtual meetings. Make use of your employees’ existing knowledge base by encouraging participants to share their own inputs and experiences during these virtual training sessions. These small touches can make a significant difference in employee engagement.

3. Create a Customer-Focused Culture

In most companies, especially mid-sized and above, the majority of employees fail to understand the link between their own duties and the organization’s goals. That’s because companies rarely make an effort to explain that link to their employees, unless, of course, they are at a senior level.

That disconnect leads to a lack of purpose and puts a damper on your strategies on how to engage remote employees. So, unless people can clearly identify themselves with a meaningful purpose, it’s hard for them to feel truly engaged. This shared purpose is more difficult to imbibe in a remote team, where people are physically separated from their team members.

This feeling of purpose is most important in customer-facing roles such as sales and support. A lack of engagement there will lead to stunted revenue growth and excessive customer churn – both of which can be disastrous.

So how do you imbibe it?

By creating a customer-focused culture. Link everything people do with the mission of delighting customers. Have dedicated virtual meetings for remote sales and support teams for discussing customer needs at least a couple of times a month. Use these meetings to discuss people’s customer interaction experiences over calls, webchats, video chats, co-browsing sessions, etc.

Discuss, analyze, and document the most common customer interaction mistakes that people are making so they can be avoided in the future. And what about other teams, such as finance, HR, IT, etc., which are not customer-facing at all? It would be a great idea to hold virtual meetings on customer needs with them too — not as frequently, but at least once a quarter.

The customer should always be the focal point of everything that happens in an organization, whatever the team might be. Creating a customer-centric mission is a great way to build a sense of shared purpose and is perfect for boosting engagement.

4. Integrate Freelancers into Your Processes

There’s a significant shift taking place in the global economy right now. An increasing number of people are choosing to freelance – either full time or as a side hustle. Freelancers contribute an estimated $1.3 trillion to the US economy. So what does this mean for your company? If you are not hiring freelancers as part of your remote team already, chances are that you will in the near future. It certainly has advantages. You could hire specialized talent who might otherwise be too expensive, such as a data security expert. Or hire experts for roles that do not have enough work to justify hiring a full-time employee, such as a video producer.

Freelancers work best when you integrate them as part of your own team rather than treat them as external vendors. They will be far more committed to you if you treat them as your own! Moreover, they will develop far better rapport with your own team members, which is always great for collaboration and team productivity.

For example, if you are making a corporate video, enable your freelance video producer to work closely with your internal team. That will allow them to come up with far better ideas and create content that more closely matches the company’s branding and its customers’ aspirations. This is especially vital if you want to create impactful videos with a far-reaching impact, like brands such as Red Bull and Lowe’s.

You don’t have to do much to engage your freelancers. Just add them to your Slack channel and your project management tool as team members. Invite them to virtual meetings and live training webinars. If you organize remote team retreats, invite them too! That’s it!

5. Centralize Your Communication

Communication can get really confusing in a remote team. This leads to misunderstandings, conflicts, stress, and consequently lower levels of employee engagement. But a few simple tactics can make it more straightforward and provide answers to the question: how do you motivate remote employees? First, have clear guidelines for when to use different media like email, chat, or video calls. Communication becomes a lot simpler when all team members stick to these guidelines.

Chat

Use live chats for a back-and-forth conversation between team members or when you need an answer quickly. However, don’t use it for trying to convey complex information or discussing emotionally sensitive matters.

Video Calls

Video calls are the closest you can get to a face-to-face conversation. That’s why it’s the best medium to explain something complicated (perhaps over a screen share) or to have a sensitive conversation, such as a feedback session.

Email

Avoid using email for a back-and-forth conversation within your internal team. Instead, use it for:

  • Sending long project updates and data
  • Forwarding information from external parties like vendors and customers
  • Detailed company-wide or team-wide announcements
  • When you don’t need an answer immediately

All these tools give you the freedom to communicate in accordance with what the situation demands, but there’s also a drawback. Managing a bunch of different media can be confusing. However, it’s super easy to streamline team communication with Mailbird.

Mailbird is way more than just an email client. It’s an all-in-one centralized communication hub that integrates with chat and video apps, which you can use right from its dashboard. For instance, you can chat on Slack or WhatsApp directly from the Mailbird dashboard and have video calls too. No need to keep multiple applications open at the same time.

Mailbird can assist you in successfully engaging remote employees

And there’s much more

Locating older emails is a pain in most email management tools, but Mailbird’s Contact Manager and user interface make it a breeze. Just click on a contact and you can see all the conversations you have had with that person. Since Mailbird also integrates with G-suite and several project management apps, you can do a substantial amount of work while keeping it at the center of all your communication. The simpler your communication tech is, the less frustrated your employees will be, and the more time and headspace they will be able to dedicate to their jobs!

Using Mailbird is a great way to simplify your communication, and hence boost engagement, so you should give it a try.

Conclusion

Boosting your remote team’s engagement is certainly not hard. When you are looking for ways on how to engage remote employees, focus on these key aspects, and you will have a committed and productive team that will take your business forward.

Which of these methods will you apply today?

About the author:

Peter Banerjea is the Co-Founder of Startup Voyager, a blog about startup growth stories and also a content marketing agency. His work has appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc, HuffPost, Fast Company, and Lifehacker. He has also delivered speaking engagements for British Telecom, AXA, Kuoni, IHS Markit, JCB, GKN, and several more organizations.

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How do I keep remote employees engaged?

Here are some tips on how to keep remote employees engaged you can use: 
– Use the Agile approach to manage your remote team. 
– Invest in your employees’ training and development. 
– Give your employees a meaningful purpose. 
– Hire freelancers and integrate them into your team.
– Have clear communication with your team by using an email service such as Mailbird.

Are remote employees more productive?

Studies have shown that employees are more productive when they can work from home. Working from home allows them to cut back on their commuting time and other expenses, such as lunch or coffee. Some employees struggle with work-life balance with remote working, but they can increase their productivity and output by taking breaks between their tasks.

Are remote workers happier?

A recent study has shown that remote workers are happier in their jobs than workers who work in an office. Remote workers reported having better focus, less stress, and a healthier work-life balance.

How do you implement remote working?

Here are some tips on how to implement remote working in your company: 
– Have a strict and clear working policy. 
– Provide the right hardware and software for your staff.
– Engage in constant communication with your team. 
– Monitor your team’s productivity and output.


Guest

Guest

Published on September 8, 2020

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