Companies are increasingly hiring remote talent. While there are plenty of benefits associated with having a remote workforce (i.e. increased productivity, loyalty, and satisfaction), there are some challenges to managing remote workers, among the principal ones, keeping them engaged and nurturing a sense of corporate belonging.
It’s a difficult task, particularly if your organization hires remote talent from different time zones and cultures. Below are 10 effective strategies companies can implement to keep their remote team enthusiastic, motivated, and engaged.
- Schedule regular video calls
Though at first it might feel weird, having a policy where all meetings require video can go a long way in helping remote team members connect and bond with one another. Body language greatly influences how people react to what we say; in work environments, our body language can not only help us bond and connect with one another, but it can also help prevent miscommunication and potential disagreements. Even if it’s through video, body language says a lot. Not only is turning on video important, but leaders must also schedule regular meetings with remote teams. These meetings can serve not only as a way to check up on people’s projects and tasks, but it can also serve as an opportunity to motivate employees and get to know them a bit better.
Pro tip: hosting team meetings is important, but try to take some time every month — at least — to schedule one-on-one calls with each team member.
- Be honest
Your remote team wants to thrive and succeed as much or even more than in-house workers. To help them do their best work, it’s important that you provide them with honest feedback about their work and their attitudes. Try to find a creative way in which you can provide constant feedback to your remote team members; what are they excelling at, what could they do better? Being honest about their performance will help build rapport and keep them engaged and motivated with their work.
- Send them some corporate swag
Corporate swag is an easy yet effective way to help employees (in-house or remote) to create a bond with your organization. It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy, a pen, mug, or cap will do. However, it’s always good to get creative with this. Maybe you can send some swag when you first hire them, then send a bigger gift once they hit the 6-month or year mark.
The idea with this is for them to have something tangible that connects them to your company.
- Keep open communication channels, at all times
Think beyond email and your weekly meetings. Skype, Slack, Trello, and Whatsapp are all great platforms that can support ongoing communication between team members and managers. Consider having different channels; some that are used for work-related messages and others that are more casual and relaxed, where individuals can share ideas, thoughts, photos, or even memes. Pro tip: make sure that you let remote workers know that it’s OK to not read or check up on messages during off business hours. This is especially important if your team is distributed across several time zones.
- Provide them with the right tools and resources to work
Many, though not all, companies that hire remote talent provide them with a stipend to set up their home office and purchase the necessary tools and resources to work. Some commonly sponsored items include laptops, a coworking membership, a coffee stipend, access to meeting rooms, a stipend to increase internet connectivity, a stipend to set up a home office (desk + chair, etc).
- Implement a rewards system
One effective way to motivate and engage remote workers is to have a rewards system in place for whenever they meet certain goals or turn in a job well done. Positive reinforcement will keep remote workers motivated to continue doing exceptional work. Furthermore, if great work goes unnoticed, then remote workers might be less engaged and feel underappreciated.
Some ideas for rewards system include:
- Bonuses or raises when people meet goals
- Extra vacation days
- A sponsored getaway of family friendly activity
- A corporate gift (i.e. tech gadgets)
- Offer growth opportunities
Remote workers want jobs that will provide them with growth opportunities. When you hire a remote worker, be honest about whether or not there is room for growth in the company. If there is, then make it clear to them what they need to do/achieve to receive a promotion.
- Set clear expectations
For remote teams to be successful, you need to provide each team member with clear expectations of their role and responsibilities. What do you expect from each remote worker? How should projects be turned in? How often should they communicate with your or their direct manager? What times are they expected to work and be available?
These are key issues that need to be addressed from the get go to prevent frustration, miscommunication, and to ensure that people meet their deadlines.
- Offer training and upskilling opportunities
Many professionals are aware that the skills they have today might not be as relevant or important in the future. To encourage remote employees to stay motivated and engaged, consider providing them with access to training and reskilling opportunities. You can either make training available online or you can provide them with a monthly stipend that they can use to further their education or learn a new skill. This is not only beneficial to remote workers, but in the long run it can prove to be a competitive advantage for your organization, as your talent will be better equipped to handle change and adopt emerging technologies.
- Embrace emojis, gifs, memes, etc.
Emojis, memes, gifs, and stickers have become a staple in every day communication between people, both in personal and professional settings. When communicating online, it can be hard to figure out a person’s tone and convey a feeling correctly. Using emojis, gifs, memes, and stickers can make it easier for people to send a message and for that message to be received with the intended tone.
Photo credits: coworkinglondon.com