With the Coronavirus being deemed a global pandemic, organizations are forced to offer remote work options to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among their employees. Remote work reduces employee burnout, especially for younger workers. In a personalized and comfortable work environment, employees can get their tasks done efficiently without any distractions.
But despite these benefits, remote work may cause employees to feel isolated or disconnected due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. This can greatly reduce employee morale and productivity and make your remote workers feel disengaged. An engaged workforce is critical in keeping your business productive and your customers satisfied. If proper management strategies are in place, there is no reason why remote working should disengage your employees. Here are some tips to keep your employees engaged while they work from home:
Tip 1 – Establish a Video-First Culture
Scheduling video conferences can be an effective way to better engage remote workers. No matter where your employees work from, video conferences allow for face-to-face interaction and foster a sense of connection. Video conferences also ensure all employees can share their opinions, making the decision-making process more efficient. For managers, organizing meetings and hearing from their teams allows them to stay updated with what their employees are doing. Important projects that cannot be explained through mail or chat can be explained clearly to your employees through a video conference. Employees can communicate their ideas and clarify their doubts instantly.
Tip 2 – Give frequent feedback
You’ve likely already heard plenty about the importance of providing employees regular performance feedback. This is even more important with remote workers, since when you’re one of them, and not in the office every day, you may find it difficult to gauge how management perceives your work.
From the first day, make sure each remote employee has a job description that clearly outlines the work outcomes you expect. At least twice per year (and many experts recommend a bi-monthly or quarterly schedule), have a one-on-one meeting with each worker and go over the written feedback you’ve created. If you can’t meet in person, have a video-conference meeting to facilitate more open communication.
Tip 3 – Recognize and appreciate their hard work
Appreciation and recognition are essential for your employees, regardless of where they work from. According to research conducted by Psychometrics, 58% of employees think that recognition plays an essential role in improving employee engagement. Initiate casual conversations with your employees to understand what they are working on and what they feel they’ve accomplished recently. Send a text, chat, or email message that thanks them for their contribution towards your organization, or show your appreciation during a team video conference. Even small measures like this can greatly enhance employee engagement.
Tip 4 – Get to know remote employees as people
“When working in an office, you learn about your employees and colleagues through daily interactions, from working together on projects to casual conversations about weekend plans,” Grosse says. “It takes greater effort to engage in the same way with remote employees, but it’s critical.”
As with any other employee, for remote workers, engagement with their jobs and your company depends on feeling known and understood. “What drives or depletes their passion and enthusiasm? What are their career aspirations? If you don’t invest time in getting to know your remote workers, you’ll find it difficult to earn their trust,” Grosse warns.
Tip 5 – Set clear goals for each of your employees
Without clear goals, your employees may lose their sense of direction and fail to work towards your organization’s success. Goals guide your employees, helping them understand what specifically they are working toward. This will keep them engaged and motivated as they work on their tasks. When setting goals for remote employees, it’s especially important to make sure they are “smart”—specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. They must also be consistent with your organization’s vision and specific to the job responsibilities of each employee. If your employees are unable to achieve their goals, talk to them politely and identify the reason.
Tip 6 – Educate your managers
Suddenly having to handle a remote workforce can be a huge task for your managers. They might not know what to expect from remote workers or how to keep them engaged. This can put a huge strain on both your employees and your organization. Managers should be coached on remote workforce management. They should be supported with the right tools to facilitate easy communication and help them track the progress of their team members. Encourage your managers to be available to your employees and listen to their concerns carefully.
The Coronavirus outbreak is forcing many companies worldwide to provide work from home options to their employees to help keep the virus from spreading. Managing employees who work from home can be challenging at first. We hope these tips help you keep your remote employees engaged and productive.