How Do You Engage Your Remote Team?

How Do You Engage Your Remote Team? Boosting Productivity and Retention of Remote Employees in the STEM Industry in Ireland

As the world has adapted to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, remote teams have become a common feature in many companies. In fact, according to research by Gartner, 88% of organizations have either encouraged or required employees to work from home due to the pandemic. While remote work has allowed businesses to continue operating, managers are facing the difficulty of effectively engaging their remote teams. This is not a new issue, as various studies have shown that engagement among remote teams can be problematic.

A Harvard Business Review article highlights the challenges faced by remote workers and cites a study revealing that two-thirds of remote workers are not fully engaged with their work. This lack of engagement leads to decreased productivity and a higher likelihood of employees leaving the organization. Consequently, the bottom line of companies can suffer from disengaged employees and increased turnover.

To address this issue, here are our top tips for engaging your remote team and ensuring the success of remote working in your organization.

  1. Stay in Touch In an office setting, managers have constant contact with their teams, making it easy for employees to seek their attention and discuss any issues. However, this dynamic changes when working remotely. Managers must be proactive in their communication with remote teams, demonstrating support at both the team and individual levels. Regular team conferences can help alleviate feelings of isolation, foster goal development, and encourage collaboration. Additionally, conducting frequent one-on-one check-ins allows employees to discuss their concerns confidentially, address training and development needs, and ensure their overall well-being. Let your employees know that you are available and prioritize their health and mental well-being.
  2. Relieve the Stress of Home Schooling Balancing work responsibilities with the demands of home schooling during the pandemic can be overwhelming. Understanding the challenges faced by your remote workers and empathizing with their situation can make a significant difference. Consider sending a thoughtful care package, such as an Amazon delivery with a "Frozen" DVD for the kids and a bottle of fizz for the parent. Furthermore, reflect on the flexibility of work hours. Instead of insisting on rigid schedules, allow employees to design their workday around their home life, enabling them to be more productive and reduce stress.
  3. Set Measurable Goals Clear expectations are essential for remote employees. Assign tasks that align with individuals' skills and provide work that they find enjoyable. Establish measurable goals to foster productivity among remote workers.
  4. Enable Effective Collaboration Effective collaboration is key to engaging remote teams and enhancing productivity. Utilize collaboration tools that facilitate knowledge sharing and real-time communication. Encourage teamwork and create an environment where remote employees can easily collaborate and support one another.
  5. Provide 'Water-Cooler' Moments Transitioning from a social office environment to remote work can be challenging for employees, leading to feelings of isolation and reduced motivation. Find ways to recreate the informal interactions that occur in an office setting. Consider setting up social pages on your intranet to encourage casual conversations and connections among employees. This allows them to exchange jokes, recipes, and discuss their hobbies outside of work, fostering a sense of camaraderie and making work more enjoyable.
  6. Empower Learning Investing in your employees' professional development is crucial for long-term productivity. Allocate time and resources for individuals to enhance their skills. Discuss their career goals and provide training and development opportunities that align with their objectives. For team-wide training needs, organize webinars and create a sense of togetherness by sending each attendee a pizza to replicate the camaraderie of traditional in-person meetings.
  7. Maintain Your Company Culture Don't overlook the importance of your company's vision, values, and purpose in remote team engagement. Ensure that your culture permeates through all communication channels and interactions. For example, at HERO, we hold a daily 3 pm Zoom meeting where the entire team participates in a group plank exercise, fostering a fun and competitive spirit. We also encourage employees to vote for the hero of the month, recognizing colleagues who exemplify our values and behaviors and rewarding them with a half-day off.

It's worth noting that starting from September 2021, all workers in Ireland have the right to request working from home. This cultural shift, supported by the accelerated rollout of the National Broadband Plan, provides more opportunities for remote work. Self-employed workers can also benefit from tax relief for setting up a home office. These incentives eliminate the need for cramped living room workspaces, allowing employees to work in a more comfortable and productive environment.

To show your remote workers that you care, consider sending them a book related to working from home. There are numerous resources available, and gifting a book demonstrates your support and understanding of their situation. For inspiration, you can explore the 15 best new remote working books to read in 2021.

Innovative Ideas for Engaging Remote Teams: Several companies have implemented unique approaches to engage their remote teams and foster a positive work environment. Here are a few examples:

  • CEO coffee mornings: Organize sessions where remote employees can ask the CEO anything, even non-work-related questions like office décor.
  • Remote lunches: Arrange informal virtual gatherings where work-related topics are off the agenda, allowing colleagues to connect on a personal level.
  • Remote workouts: Encourage physical activity by organizing virtual workout sessions or short exercise breaks during the workday.
  • After-work social evenings: Arrange virtual events such as quizzes, drinks evenings, or even a virtual disco to provide opportunities for socializing.

Building an engaged remote team starts with recruiting individuals who align with your company's culture. While skills are important, hiring for cultural fit leads to higher employee retention, improved work quality, a positive work environment, a motivated team, and increased productivity. Throughout the hiring process, showcase your company's culture, values, and collaborative systems to attract talent who will thrive in a remote work setting.

If you need assistance in developing a more meaningful hiring strategy that focuses on cultural fit, contact HERO today.

Engaging your remote team is essential for their productivity, well-being, and overall satisfaction. By implementing these tips and strategies, you can create a thriving remote work environment within the STEM industry in Ireland.

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