Remote working is on the rise, and is becoming one of the most popular ways for people to work flexibly. The TUC reported in 2016 that over the last decade, the number of people working remotely increased by 241,000. Allowing employees to work remotely or specifically hiring remote workers and outsourcers can bring you a range of benefits, from saving money to improving employee happiness. However, you might worry about keeping remote workers engaged with their work and the rest of the company. You can’t watch over them all the time and they can’t be involved in the same way that someone in the office might be. So how can you keep them as engaged as possible?
Remote workers might work fairly independently, but it doesn’t mean that they have to be completely alone. Assigning collaborative tasks to several remote workers, or between remote workers and office-based workers, can help to keep them on board with the rest of the team. They will need to keep in contact with the people they’re collaborating with, whether they do that by phone, email or even using an app like Slack or Asana to keep track of what’s happening.
Regular meetings with your staff can help to keep everyone in the loop, give people a chance to answer questions and make sure everyone know what they should be doing. If you already hold meetings, you might benefit from patching in remote workers via phone or video call. You could also consider holding meetings and calls with remote workers on their own, whether you want to check up on how their work is going or just have a personal chat.
Communicating well with remote workers is essential, but there can be a thing as too much communication. In particular, it can be disruptive not just for remote workers but also office workers if they get constant notifications, calls and other forms of communication. If they’re spending all their time responding to contact from others, they can struggle to get any actual work done. The best thing to do is to choose a couple of ways to communicate that everyone is happy with.
Remote workers can sometimes feel like their contributions aren’t acknowledged and recognised. It can be easy to forget them when you don’t see them in person, but they want validation just as much as anyone else. You should make sure that you take the time to acknowledge their hard work in whichever way works. It might be a good idea to send an email at the end of the week that highlights some key players, or perhaps to thank remote workers with a gift.
While it’s not always terribly practical to arrange to meet your remote workers, it’s a good way to forge more of a connection with someone. If you’ve never met in person, it can feel as if there is a barrier between you that’s difficult to overcome. Meeting up in person often helps to improve your working relationship. You could organise get-togethers and even holidays for remote workers and office workers to spend time with each other.
Stay in touch with your remote workers and involve them in the everyday operation of your business, and you can encourage them to remain engaged.