For those of us who have worked remotely, it can be a tremendous benefit both personally and professionally. However, along with the very long list of pros, there are a few cons that can make remote work challenging. One of the biggest obstacles of being a remote worker is the engagement factor. How can you feel a part of the team when you are rarely, physically with the team? Let’s take a look at how organizations can effectively engage with their remote workers and why it’s worth the effort.
The Option to Work Remotely Is a Huge Talent-Attracter and Retainer
As a remote employee, I find great value in the ability to work from home; however, what value is it to the organization? The big value I want to highlight is retention. In today’s economy, organizations must offer benefits that mean something to their employees if they want to retain them long term.
Unemployment is incredibly low and people are easily wooed to “greener grass.” Retention is critical for organizations that want to be competitive. Therefore, business leaders need to take a hard look at what attracts and what retains talent. Developing a comprehensive benefit package is an important component to obtaining this goal.
A high priority for most people is work-life balance. If you offer your employees very little flexibility, they will most certainly look for an organization that makes life more doable. The ability to work from home is a huge contributor to managing work and life effectively. It is definitely a benefit that aids in attracting and retaining the right kind of talent.
Employee Engagement is Necessary for Remote Workers
As much as people value workplace flexibility, they also value engagement. This can prove more challenging when you’re not physically with your co-workers.
There’s the personal interaction: You aren’t there to participate in the random “donuts in the break-room” treat or the annual secret Santa gift exchange or no one is asking if you want to grab lunch together.
And from a more operational perspective – you’re not sharing in ‘computers are down’ issues, or working together on projects face-to-face. However, these obstacles can be lessened or completely overcome with some creativity and forethought.
Take Advantage of the Abundance of Technology
This Forbes article articulates some technology tools along with the pros and cons related to them. Here are a few practical ways technology can help heighten engagement.
- Chat applications are extremely beneficial for creating the feel of catching up around the water-cooler. It can be informal and real-time which makes everyone feel more connected.
- Video conferencing software can make meetings more personable. You can put voices to faces and get a better feel for what is going on. Although it may seem insignificant these personal tidbits make long-distance coworkers a whole lot more ‘real’.
- Project management software is helpful even without the challenge of a remote team. It’s extremely useful to have the timelines, documents, budget, to-do’s, and progress laid out in one place.
Real Examples of Employee Engagement
Here are some things we do at Centennial that you may find helpful in your quest to boosting employee engagement with your remote workers. These may look different for different organizations, but you can get an idea of how we work to alleviate the physical space between remote and non-remote employees.
- Weekly conference calls – these are often video calls; Centennial uses Zoom conferencing – for getting up close and personal.
- Internal monthly meetings – this is an opportunity to get everyone together, as much as geographically possible. We do lunch, catch-up, celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries as well as get business done.
- Quarterly dinners – These are amazing events where we bring our significant others and eat at a nice restaurant. It’s a special time to get to know our coworkers better and relax with everyone. We’ve even made crepes at a recent quarterly dinner. Nothing brings you together like flipping crepes together!
- Enhance all employees skill sets via online assessments – Cloverleaf, DiSC, Strengthfinder, etc.
- Remote workers are assigned a key contact person to connect with on an ongoing basis.
- Trusting your employees’ capabilities and allowing them to flourish in their own way by not micro-managing them. This can build a bridge of trust that lasts a lifetime.
On a final note, everyone wants to be a part of something bigger and their contributions matter. It’s essential for management to make the effort to engage with their remote workforce. It’s key for attracting and retaining top talent and it is an opportunity you don’t want to miss!
Centennial is an Executive Search Firm and has been in business for over 45 years. I have had the privilege of working for them remotely for almost a decade, and I’m proud to be a part of a team that makes employee engagement a top priority!
What are you doing to engage your remote workforce?