How to engage remote employees
Many organizations have now realized the enormous benefit of allowing employees to work from home (remote work).
So, what is remote working employee engagement? How do you engage remote employees?
Employers, managers, and staff continue to adapt to the ever-changing requirements of post-pandemic working practices. Remote working will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. The work-from-home model, or even the hybrid model, is here to stay and demand will continue to increase.
Flexible working versus hybrid working
Flexible working and hybrid working are two different approaches to work arrangements that have become more popular in recent years, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Furthermore, flexible working refers to the practice of allowing employees to work outside of traditional office hours or to work remotely, from home, or from another location. This could include allowing employees to set their own schedules, work part-time or on a reduced-hours basis, or work outside of the office for some or all of their hours.
Hybrid working, on the other hand, is a more specific form of flexible working that involves a mix of remote work and on-site work. Hybrid workers typically split their time between working from home or another location and working in the office or another physical workspace.
The key difference between flexible working and hybrid working is that flexible working encompasses a broader range of options, including remote work, part-time work, and non-traditional work hours, while hybrid working is a specific type of flexible working that involves a mix of remote and on-site work.
Both flexible working and hybrid working can have benefits for both employees and employers. Employees may enjoy greater flexibility and work-life balance, while employers may benefit from increased productivity and reduced costs associated with maintaining physical office space. However, both approaches also come with their own challenges and require careful planning and implementation to be successful.
Let’s have a look at some tips companies can use to engage remote employees.
What does a remote working employee want and need?
Remote working, flexible working, or hybrid working options tend to be at the top of the list when people are searching for remote working opportunities. This type of role now allows companies to recruit and retain talent that would previously have been unavailable to them. The global talent pool is a highly competitive place with greater emphasis on ways to engage and retain employees.
As a manager, there are now more responsibilities to consider when looking at remote working employee engagement. Taking care of your remote working staff, no matter where they are based, is full of challenges.
Remote employees already tend to be more productive and happier in their remote roles. So, what more can an employer do?
Contact via email and phone are already recognized as the minimum requirements of day-to-day communication. There are also many platforms providing effective communications tools that allow you to keep in regular contact with your remote teams. Look at providers offering video conferencing services such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Asana – see what is right for your team.
Equip them correctly
If they haven’t got the right tools, they can’t do the job right.
Of course, there will be standard pieces of equipment that will be needed such as laptops, phones, etc. but remember issues such as access to quiet areas, or the ability to access work/personal development sessions, are also requirements that need to be considered.
“Out of sight out of mind” is not how you want your staff to feel.
Remember to recognize individuals for their contributions, no matter how small. Include remote working staff in as many areas of the business as possible. Do you hold daily, weekly, and monthly meetings where staff input can be officially acknowledged? Do you recognize an ‘employee of the month’? Or an ‘idea of the week’?
Show you care
Gently, gently with this one. This can be a difficult one for employers to get right as you don’t want to appear to be interfering in someone’s private life. If you can build good quality relationships with your remote staff you will hopefully be able to pick up on any issues regarding an unexpected drop in the quality of their work, or a reduction in their productivity. Acting quickly is important to the health and well-being of the remote worker. It can also act as a positive message to the other members of staff – it ‘shows you care’.
Some remote workers will enjoy sharing a bit of information about their pet, or how their children are doing at school, etc. but some may also feel intimidated and think they are being spied on.
Listen to them
Effective communication is not only important when dealing with customers, but it is also one of the most important issues when dealing with staff.
How often do you hear, “Why don’t they ask me, I am doing the job every day?”
Make time to listen, and act on, any ideas that come from your staff – and remember to ‘recognize’ their contribution.
Offer a hybrid approach
Remote working does not suit everyone, so one option is to offer a hybrid working model. Statistics provided by Gallup show that 140,000 USA staff indicated 3 to 4 days of remote work was ideal. Some remote working staff benefit by coming into the office 1 day a week. They can access peer support, they can directly report to management, and they can enjoy social interaction with their colleagues.
Drawbacks of remote working employee engagement
As mentioned earlier remote working does not suit everyone. Also, young staff just starting out on the career ladder can sometimes feel a bit lost. As they are working remotely they cannot easily access peer support. There is no one to turn to for guidance. No senior member of the team can step up and readily provide snippets of advice. Furthermore, new staff joining the company need access to training opportunities, which need to be carefully planned and scheduled.
It is also acknowledged that remote working staff can experience isolation. This can lead to a lack of motivation and poor mental health, which further results in reduced productivity.
When thinking of remote working engagement there are a lot of factors that need to be considered.
Remote working employee engagement is an area of business that should not be overlooked. It impacts staff, managers, and ultimately customers. If you can engage and inspire your remote workers, and make them feel valued, they will be an asset to you and your business.