3 Things To Do To Keep Your Remote Workers Engaged
Working remotely can be a great perk for employees, but it can also be difficult to keep your team engaged and on track when everyone's not in the office. Here are three things you can do to keep your remote workers engaged and productive:
1. Set goals and deadlines for each project
2. Provide regular feedback
3. Stay connected with team members
Setting Goals and Deadlines for Each Project
The best way to keep your remote workers engaged is to set goals and deadlines for each project. It is always surprising how many organizations are operating without set deliverables and timelines for their team members! It doesn't have to be complicated - you can, of course, make it much more complex depending on your work environment and products/services you're supporting - but keeping it simple for team members if you've not used this type of approach before will do wonders. It helps them stay focused and on track, have clarity around expectations, and ensure that projects are completed on time.
Here are some ideas:
What should Suzy complete this week, and what should she be starting on in preparation for next week?
What is the department's overall sales objective for the quarter, and what is Joe's role in meeting that objective? Is it to sign 3 new logos and qualify 10 new leads? Put those as the goals.
What are other team members waiting on that needs to be finished up? Often individuals can focus on the wrong item in the short term, simply because other items are on their regular to-do list; if someone is falling behind, make that their goal - catch up on This, That, and Those by X date.
Break larger goals down into smaller steps so it's easier to track progress and stay on schedule.
Have regular stand ups (weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly depending on the types of goals and timelines you're setting) to make sure everyone is on track, and to help remove any roadblocks.
Providing Regular Feedback
Regular feedback is another way to keep your remote workers engaged. In a remote environment, it can be easy for team members to feel unnoticed or unsupported. Feedback is beneficial for both the giver and the receiver - it provides clarity, shows that someone is paying attention, and helps the receiver improve their work.
Some tips for providing feedback:
Be specific; avoid general comments like "good job". Try: "Jim, I was very impressed with how you handled X client; they were quite upset about the delays and you handled them professionally, explained clearly what the reasons where, and got them to understand it was beyond our control. You got them back to being happy clients - thank you!"
Focus on what the person did well, and give suggestions for how they can improve. Try: "Jim, you were really great at explaining to the client what the challenges with the project have been, and you got them to understand it wasn't something we could control. Nice work! I did get the sense they didn't feel their concerns were being heard at the start of the meeting; sometimes letting the client vent a bit before we try to jump in and explain can help avoid that perception."
Make sure your feedback is timely - don't wait until the end of the project to give feedback on a task that was completed two weeks ago.
If the feedback is constructive, try to focus on the issue rather than the person. For example: "Roadblocks happen to all of us; it's critical that when they do occur, the manager is apprised of it right away so that it can be fixed and not result in delays" rather than "You forgot to advise your manager of X and it put us behind by 3 days; don't do it again!" (Yes, there are instances where more direct language / expectations are needed, but it is not for use in regular feedback where general performance is consistent and good).
Stay Connected with Team Members
Staying connected with team members is one of the most important things you can do to keep them engaged; employees can quickly begin to feel 'unseen' when they physically aren't in the same space and outreach from others is low. If If you aren't already, consider using tools like Slack or Zoom to keep in touch with team members. These tools make it easy to stay connected and they can also help with collaboration on projects.
An addition to chat software, depending on your team and their preferences, you can also try:
Weekly or bi-weekly video chats
Monthly or quarterly retreats
A private social media group (Facebook, LinkedIn)
People need to feel they belong, and it's no different at work than it is in their personal lives. Belonging is essential, and helping create a sense of belonging through regular connectivity is a key piece to engagement.
These are just three of the ways you can keep your remote team engaged, but three of the most important ones. If you are struggling with your remote team, these will help - go for it!