The outbreak of the pandemic has made remote work the norm; organizations are experiencing a significant shift in their working patterns. Many companies that previously did not adopt remote work policies have had to transition in the twinkling of an eye, and managing remote teams comes with a unique set of challenges. One challenge that companies are battling is how to keep employees engaged and productive when working remotely. This article will provide comprehensive strategies and techniques that companies can implement to keep their staff engaged and productive when working remotely.
Communication is Key
The first and integral part of managing remote teams is communication. The success of remote work depends significantly on a clear and effective communication system. When remote employees are adequately and regularly communicated with, they feel more valued, supported, and connected to their colleagues and teams. Having a regular cadence of team meetings, department check-ins, and one-on-one updates can help ensure that remote employees stay connected with their colleagues and managers. This communication ensures that remote workers have all the necessary information, updates, and feedback to perform their jobs effectively. Effective communication is also essential for keeping employees informed about new policies, projects, milestones, and overall company culture.
Asynchronous communication refers to a type of communication where team members communicate through channels that aren’t necessarily real-time. This form of communication is ideal when employees are working in different time zones or have different schedules. Some of the most commonly used asynchronous communication tools include email, project management tools, and instant messaging. For instance, projects can be assigned using project management tools that streamline assignments, deadlines, and progress. This form of communication ensures that remote workers can exchange relevant information and updates promptly, thus avoiding the delay that might interfere with their productivity.
Invest in the Right Tools
Remote employees need reliable and secure technology to keep them working efficiently. The prerequisite of working remotely is to have the tools necessary for performing their duties seamlessly. Some of the essential tools your remote workers need are a laptop, high-speed internet connection, and the necessary collaboration tools, such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and project management tools. Since the company’s data security is also vital, investing in a good virtual private network (VPN) to ensure the security of your organization’s data is crucial.
Video conferencing is an essential tool for remote teams. It helps remote workers and teams stay connected, collaborate, and get work done efficiently. Video calls provide an opportunity for remote workers to get a visual on their colleagues and managers, which significantly improves the quality of conversations, discussions, and feedback. Tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, and Microsoft Teams are some of the most popular video conferencing tools that can help remote teams stay productive and connected.
Instant messaging tools, such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, are also necessary for team communication. These tools allow remote employees to engage in quick chats, ask questions or get clarifications on projects or tasks, and even share files or documents easily. Project management tools such as Asana and Trello provide a central location for task assignment, project updates, and progress tracking, enabling remote workers to stay organized and on top of their workloads.
Establish Clear Goals and Expectations
One of the biggest challenges of managing remote employees is the question of performance management. Remote workers need to be clear on what’s expected of them and what their goals are. Setting clear expectations and goals can help eliminate uncertainty around job responsibilities, ensuring remote workers understand what they need to achieve and how their performance will be measured.
Setting goals must be SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This approach ensures that employees are given a clear direction and are aware of what they must deliver. For instance, if you set a target, incorporating it into your remote workers’ daily or weekly tasks is a great step to ensuring that remote employees stay on track.
Create a Sense of Community Among Remote Workers
Creating a sense of community and a company culture around remote work is key to keeping remote employees engaged. One way to do this is to set up virtual team-building activities such as online happy hours, virtual book clubs, or game nights. These activities create an opportunity for remote workers to establish interpersonal connections and build a company culture. Remote employees often miss out on the social interactions typical of brick-and-mortar offices. Therefore, creating social and fun remote events can help increase an employee’s sense of belonging and build a sense of community.
Another way to promote a sense of community among remote workers is by starting online chat channels and messaging boards dedicated to non-work-related conversations. This step encourages employees to share personal interests and engage in friendly discussions. This approach helps remote employees forge deeper connections with their colleagues, which boosts morale and motivation.
Support Professional Development
Supporting employee professional development is essential for keeping your remote workforce engaged and productive. Companies can offer virtual training, mentoring programs, or online courses to help remote employees upskill and stay motivated. Professional development opportunities help remote workers stay engaged and invested in their roles.
Encourage Remote Work-Life Balance
One of the main benefits of remote work is the flexibility it provides. Remote employees appreciate the freedom to work from anywhere, but they may also have other responsibilities, such as caring for family members, that require flexible work arrangements. It is therefore essential to strike a balance between work and personal life. Many remote workers often work longer hours and get distracted during work hours. By giving individuals autonomy over their time, remote workers can schedule their workday in a way that best fits their lifestyle.
Flexibility encourages employees to work at optimal levels, creates trust, and shows appreciation towards remote employees. Providing supportive resources like access to counselling services, offering gym memberships or ergonomic equipment, and providing flexible schedules and paid time off can contribute to achieving work-life balance.
Encouraging feedback helps leaders gauge employee satisfaction levels, determine what’s working and what areas need improvement. By shooting a feedback survey, managers can gain valuable insights to aid in making better and informed decisions. Anonymous surveys or online suggestion boxes can help remote employees share their opinions and feedback confidentially. Remote workers can also express their concerns or make suggestions for new initiatives. Leaders should give employees a voice and create a way for them to communicate their needs and concerns, to ensure they feel heard and supported.
In summary, managing remote employees effectively requires a different set of skills and strategies than managing in-person workers. Communication continues to stand out as one of the most critical aspects of managing remote teams. Consistent communication and structuring a regular cadence of virtual meetings and check-ins are essential for keeping remote workers engaged and connected.
Investing in the right tools and technology also plays a crucial role in the productivity and engagement of remote workers. Providing secure, reliable, and fast technology resources, such as high-speed internet, video conferencing platforms, instant messaging, and project management tools, demonstrates a commitment to efficiency and support.
Creating a culture of community and trust is also essential in managing remote teams effectively. Companies can create virtual team-building events, dedicated chat channels for non-work conversations, and encourage opportunities for remote workers to connect with their colleagues, forging a sense of community and belonging.
Allowing for flexible work arrangements, promoting work-life balance, and advocating for professional development opportunities can also help keep remote workers engaged, productive, and motivated.
Finally, leaders should encourage feedback and create a safe space for remote workers to communicate their needs, concerns, and ideas. Listening to feedback and taking action accordingly can help build trust, a sense of value, and support among remote workers.
By implementing these strategies and techniques, organizations can ensure their remote workforce remains engaged, productive, and motivated, leading to a more sustainable and successful remote work environment.