Ideas to Help Engage Remote Workers

Your employees want flexible policies that let them achieve a work-life balance. You want to keep costs down while keeping employees happy. Telecommuting options can help accomplish these goals.

Modern technology has made working from home easier than ever, and this had led to a rise in remote workers. A survey from Gallup found that 43 percent of employees reported working remotely at least occasionally in 2016.

Working from the comfort of one’s own home – and possibly in the comfort of one’s own pajamas – may sound ideal to many workers. However, the setup is not free of problems. Fostering employee engagement is one of the chief challenges.

Create a schedule.

While some employees may work from home every single day, most remote workers divide their time between the office and their home. This can allow them to reap the benefits of remote work while still getting to meet and socialize with coworkers face to face.

According to Gallup, employees are most engaged when they spend three to four days a week working remotely, and one to two days in the office.

Provide frequent feedback and updates.   

You might want to check in on your employees. At the same time, your employees may be eager to hear from you. After all, they want to be sure that everything’s going well, too, and it can be hard to tell when they’re in a different location.

Frequent communication can keep everyone on the same page. It’s also helpful for addressing small issues before they become major problems. Establish a consistent schedule and method for feedback and updates.

Use modern tools.

When remote workers are out of the office, they don’t have to be out of the loop. With email, phone calls, file-sharing, Skype, and Slack, physical distance doesn’t need to be a barrier.

Not all communication has to be strictly about business, either. Just as office workers might gather around the watercooler to discuss last night’s shows, so too should remote workers be given a chance to socialize. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Kuty Shalev, founder of Clevertech, shows video conferences and even online games can boost trust and cooperation among remote workers.

Focus on results.

While you could insist that remote workers maintain a strict 9-to-5 schedule, this may not always be practical. In some cases, employees are working remotely because they’re trying to juggle work with personal responsibilities. Regular office hours may not work for them, but this doesn’t mean they won’t get the job done.

Remote work is all about flexibility. By focusing on getting results and meeting deadlines rather than on sticking to an arbitrary schedule, you’re giving your employees the freedom they need to get the job done.

Reward their efforts.

According to the New York Times, an experiment conducted by a professor of economics at Stanford University found that home-based employees worked 9.5 percent longer and were 13 percent more productive compared to office workers – but they were promoted half as often.

If remote workers are passed over for promotion after promotion despite excellent results, they may become resentful. This will not help productivity or engagement. It may also result in some of your best workers leaving for companies that will provide them with the recognition and compensation they deserve.

Don’t forget to recognize and reward the contributions of remote workers.