Work from home is not some trend that will fade out once the COVID-19 Pandemic is over. Remote work has been proven to come with many benefits like the elimination of commute time, a greater sense of flexibility and the ability to better respond to situations that would inhibit in-person work like a natural disaster or global pandemic.
For those reasons and many more, we don’t only sing the praises of remote work, we are fully committed to it. Our team at Converged Technology Professionals is 100% remote and distributed across the country, with no current plans on returning to the office.
But if the the right tools are not in place
or if you are new to managing a remote team, a work from home structure can come with low employee engagement. This could lead to team members feeling isolated, which can result in a decrease in productivity, high employee burnout and potentially employee turnover.
To help prevent low engagement we put together a list of four tactics that will help you come up with a plan to keep your remote team productive and on track -
Tactic 1 – Communicate Often
A great way to prevent employees from feeling isolated is to communicate with them often. These check-ins could be seeing how heavy a workload is, what the upcoming week looks like or just to see how someone is doing in general. These conversations don’t need to be conducted as 1-on-1 sessions either. Group discussions are beneficial because it allows for co-workers to see what their colleagues are doing and how their personal efforts are contributing to the team’s goals.
If the conversation derails and team members begin discussing topics that are not related to work, that should be encouraged because these off-topic discussions can build moral by showing that the team consists of people with passions that go beyond work. But it is also important to be mindful of other’s time and not have meetings that hurt the team’s overall productivity with meeting that drag on for far too long.
Tactic 2 – Email is Not Enough
Email is an important piece of workforce communications. It has its time and place of course, but it alone cannot replace face-to-face interaction. We recommend incorporating a mix of communication tools that better replicates daily interactions within the office –
This communication channel thrives for quick, casual discussions. A chat conversation is meant for simple questions that may require a fast response. If the subject matter requires additional information and can’t be resolved with a few short text messages you, may need to escalate the conversation to a channel that allows for more detail.
This brings us to the tried and tested method of phone calls. Not only do they allow for more clear communication, but they also improve engagement by allowing team members to hear each other’s voices. Phones are ideal for driving home an unclear point or asking for additional information that may require a complex answer.
The final piece of the communication puzzle is video calls and meetings. This is as close to face-to-face as you are going to get when working remotely, and surprisingly most find is a suitable replacement for feeling connected. It is also the tool that we believe is the most crucial to promoting employee engagement. It's great for in-depth strategy sessions or simply to remain connected with colleagues, clients, and external partners.
Tactic 3 – Recognize Hard Work
There are many ways that you can show a team member recognition. This can be as simple as sending a message over chat to acknowledge hard work they do or sending an inexpensive gift. Sometimes it may also be appropriate to celebrate a great effort by publicly recognizing it. Some people respond very well to being singled out for working hard and it allows your whole team to celebrate a job well done.
The reason this is important in a remote environment is to avoid a situation where great workers feel like they are not doing enough, simply because there’s not someone looking over their shoulder throughout the workday. Giving feedback, whether it be positive or constructive solidifies what you expect from your team and shows that you care about their work.
Tactic 4 – Set Clear Expectations and Establish Responsibilities
One final tactic that compliments better communications is setting clear expectations. An employee may not be putting in enough effort because they are struggling with prioritizing or fully understanding what their responsibilities are. Having a dedicated set of communication channels allows for a more efficient two-way conversation that grants both the manager and employee to understand what is expected of each other.
But be careful, if you check-in too frequently an employee could feel micromanaged, which will likely hurt productivity and sap your team’s natural creative process for completing projects at a high level.
Ultimately, it’s all about finding the right balance of communication. Being open and transparent about what is expected from your team while offering support when needed is a winning strategy in keeping your employees engaged and informed.
Find Tactics That Work for Your Team
Implementing these four tactics in your remote working environment only serves as the first step in creating a plan that encourages engagement. Not all remote teams are the same, and there’s nothing wrong with finding the mix of communication that works for each individual department. Maybe marketing needs a lot more daily chatter while HR or accounting requires less; the key is to try different messaging formats until you find your new normal that works for everyone.
If you have any questions about how to strengthen your remote team, feel free to contact us today!
If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy: