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How Do You Engage Your Remote Team?

Tips to Boost Productivity and Retention of Remote Employees

As we have moved through the coronavirus pandemic, companies have embraced remote teams. Indeed, research from Gartner shows that 88% of organisations have encouraged or required employees to work from home because of the pandemic. While remote employees have helped companies to carry on, managers are discovering that it is more difficult to engage their work-from-home people. This isn’t a new issue. Many studies have found that engagement among remote teams is problematic.

An article in the Harvard Business Review describes the problems that remote workers experience and a study that found two-thirds of remote workers aren’t engaged with their work. The outcome is that productivity falls, and remote employees are more likely to leave sooner. You may be carrying on, but your bottom line is likely to suffer because of disengaged employees and higher employee turnover.
Here are our top tips to help you engage your remote teams and ensure that remote working works for your organisation.

Stay in Touch

In the office, your managers are in constant contact with their teams. It’s easy for an employee to get their manager’s attention and have a quick chat about a troublesome issue. This isn’t the case when working remotely.

Managers must communicate more consciously with their remote teams, demonstrating their support at a team and individual level. Daily team conferences will help to alleviate feelings of isolation, develop goals, and encourage collaboration.

Regular one-to-one check-ins will ensure that employees have an opportunity to discuss their issues confidentially, and discuss training and development needs, and simply to check in. Make these offline meetings about the employee. Let them know that your door is open, and their health and mental wellbeing is your number one priority.

Relieve the stress of home schooling

It’s sure hard work, keeping on top of your job and the greater priority of home schooling the kids during the pandemic. As soon as your back is turned, the living room is a mess, there is paint up the wall, food on the floor and your youngest has put a chocolate doughnut in the washing machine, just to see your reaction.

Let your remote workers know that you feel their pain. Send am Amazon rescue package. A ‘Frozen DVD for the kids, and a bottle of fizz for the besieged parent. On top of this, think about how you could help your people to be more productive. For example, why is it that you insist on them being ‘present’ during normal working hours? Could they design their day around their home life, getting their work done when it best suits them?

Set Measurable Goals

It’s crucial to be clear about your expectations for your remote employees. The tasks you set should be commensurate with individual skills and abilities, and provide work that individuals enjoy. Set goals that can be measured and enjoy the benefits of greater productivity from people working at home.

Enable Effective Collaboration for Remote Teams

Teams that collaborate effectively are more engaged and more productive. You should employ the most effective collaboration tools for your teams, ensuring that these allow for knowledge sharing (which should be encouraged) and real-time communication.

Provide ‘Water-Cooler’ Moments

When working remotely, one of the most difficult transitions for people to make is the move away from a social environment. Isolation can destroy motivation. To combat this, figure out ways in which you can provide the ‘water-cooler’ moments that will now have disappeared from each employee’s daily routine.

Some companies allow their employees to set up social pages on their intranet. This allows people to have the conversations that they would have at the water cooler. They exchange jokes and recipes, and talk about their hobbies outside of work – just as they would during a coffee break or while standing around the water cooler. It makes work more fun.

Empower Learning

Tomorrow’s productivity is decided by today’s learning. Empower your people to develop their skills by providing time and resources to them. Discuss individual career goals and ensure that you provide the training and development opportunities that support them in achieving their objectives.

If you encounter team training needs, hold a team webinar – and send a pizza to each attendee at their home, to replicate the ‘pizza meetings’ that are so successful in the traditional work setting.

Maintain Your Company Culture Within Your Remote Team

Don’t’ lose sight of your vision, your beliefs, and your purpose. This is what gels your team and encourages individuals to go the extra mile. Support your remote team by providing the tools and processes that enable them to do their work, achieve their goals, and boost collaboration and productivity.

Just because your employees work remotely does not mean they don’t want to belong. The challenge is to ensure that your company culture – how you do things and why – permeates across all your communication channels and in all your communications. Here’s a couple of examples of how we make sure our culture reaches out to all our people:

• We hold a 3pm Zoom meeting, during which the entire team holds ‘the plank’ for between 3 and 5 minutes. Daft? Perhaps. Groanworthy? Maybe. Fun? Certainly. It’s something different, off the wall, and a little competitive (in the nicest possible way)
• We also have employees vote for their hero of the month: a colleague who has lived up to the HERO values and expected behaviours. The winner gets a half-day off.

Workers Now Have the Right to Work from Home

From September 2021, all workers in Ireland will have the right to request that they be allowed to work from home. This legislation promises to welcome a culture shift. It will be enabled partly by the acceleration of the rollout of the National Broadband Plan, and the government has committed to 20% of public sectors workers to be able to work from home.

For self-employed workers, this is great news. They have the added bonus of being able to claim tax relief for setting up a home office (up to around €50,000). With perks like that, there is no reason to be crammed in the living room with the kids running amok.

Send your remote workers a book

You may have a remote working handbook, but what about going one step further? There are many books that have been written to help people adjust to working from home. Show your people that you care by sending them a copy. If you’re short of ideas which is the best to gift your remote employees, why not select one from the 15 best new remote working books to read in 2021?

Some of the cool stuff we’ve seen companies do

There are many ways you can engage your remote team with your culture, their work, and their colleagues. Here are just a few of the different approaches some companies are taking:

• A CEO coffee morning, during which remote employees can ask the CEO anything they wish – including about the office décor!
• Remote lunches. A little like the pizza meetings, except that work-related issues are off the agenda.
• Remote workouts – we hold a 3 to 5-minute plank, but other companies go further with half hour morning gym sessions in the comfort of their workers own homes.
• After work social evenings. These could be in the form of quizzes or drinks evenings. Or what about holding a virtual disco!

Building Engaged Remote Teams Starts with Recruiting the Right PeopleSet featured image

People don’t stay with a company because of the work they do. They stay because they are engaged with the company’s values and beliefs. They engage with their work because being part of something gives their work meaning. Building a highly-engaged remote team always starts with who you recruit. Of course, you need the right skill set, but you must hire talent for your culture. Thus, it is important to showcase your culture throughout the hiring process, from job description to offer letter.

Describe how you set goals, communicate, and collaborate, and how your systems encourage and enable teamwork and knowledge sharing. Discuss how you support the careers of the members of your remote team, and that you consider work should be enjoyable.

When you hire for cultural fit, you will experience:
• Higher employee retention
• Better quality of work
• A more positive work environment (even remotely)
• A more motivated remote team
• Higher productivity

How do you hire for cultural fit? Contact HERO today to develop a more meaningful hiring strategy.

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