5 Smart Ways to Keep your Remote Team Engaged

Posted by Guest on June 21, 2018

Employee engagement is the personal investment and emotional commitment that employees have towards their company.  Engaged employees love their jobs! They work harder, stay with the company longer and are more productive. Gallup Studies indicate that higher employee engagement has a definite impact on key business outcomes, including a company’s profitability.

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

However, 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

It’s not easy for remote teams to coordinate with each other while working on complex projects. Ineffective communication, unclear directions, 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 centered 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 makes people communicate openly and frequently to 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 to work towards a solution, rather than play 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, take 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 because it helps them build 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 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 that 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 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 can share their own inputs and experiences during these virtual training sessions. These small touches can make a significant difference to 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. 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 separate 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, web chats, video chats, cobrowsing sessions, etc.

Discuss, analyze and document the most common customer interaction mistakes that people are making so that they can be avoided in future. And what about other teams such as finance, HR and 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 in 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 their 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 a team member. 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. That leads to misunderstandings, conflicts, stress and consequently lower levels of employee engagement. But a few simple tactics can make it more straightforward. 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 chat 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 screenshare) 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
  • To forward emails 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 which integrates with chat and video apps that 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.

And there’s much more.

Locating older emails is a pain in most email management tools, but Mailbird’s Contact Manager and user interface makes 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 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.

Simplify your Remote Teams Communication with Mailbird.

Get Mailbird Free

 

Conclusion

Boosting your remote team’s engagement is certainly not hard. 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 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.


Guest

Guest

You might also like...

ENTERPRISE

Join over 500.000+ people and businesses using Mailbird.

Unlimited email accounts. Unlimited Inboxes. Unlimited fun.

  • bbc
  • pcworld
  • cnbc
  • Product-hunt
  • itworld
  • huffington post
  • tech-crunch
  • bloomberg

Get our new blog posts send right to
your inbox and become an email expert

Subscribe to the Mailbird Blog below

Subscribe now
SaveSave

SaveSave