Remote working has become the new norm for many businesses, and the benefits of remote work for employees are well documented. However, managing a remote team does not come without challenges. Fostering remote employee engagement is a top priority for managers looking to attract and retain the best talent and keep motivation and productivity levels high.
Knowing how to keep remote employees engaged means teams stay connected and focused on organizational milestones and missions. In this guide, we’ll run through the main employee benefits of working from home and some helpful ideas on how to increase employee engagement remotely.
Benefits of Remote Work Employees
There are many employee benefits to working from home. Perks include:
A Better Work-Life Balance – Many employers offer flexible working policies where staff is only required to log in for a set of core hours or on specific days. Outside of this, employees can manage their workload to fit around their home lives. This makes it easier for those with children to manage the school run. It also helps those who want to take a late start, early finish, or extended lunch break to hit the gym, go for a jog, or do the supermarket run at an off-peak time, etc.
Cost Savings – Remote workers save between $2000 and $5000 per year on transport. Those with their own vehicles also save on vehicle maintenance and insurance costs. Transportation aside, there are several other savings to be made. For example, take-out coffees and café lunches are eliminated, and because remote staff rarely need to be in business attire every day, they save on clothing and apparel too.
Time Savings – The United States Census Bureau estimates the average daily commute is just under 1 hour both ways. That’s nearly 5 hours a week, 19 hours a month, and just under 11 days in total over the course of a year. That’s a lot of time that could be spent on other, more valuable things like personal projects, hobbies, fitness, friends, and family.
Reduced Environmental Impact – By eliminating the need to commute, remote workers can reduce their carbon footprint. This is one of the top-rated benefits for remote employees who are environmentally conscious. A report by Global Workplace Analytics estimates remote working removes 54 million tons of emissions every year — the equivalent of taking 600,000 cars off the road.
Increased Comfort – Let’s face it, cubicles and communal office spaces are not often the most comfortable or uplifting of environments. Remote workers can set up their home offices however they like to make them more spacious, comfortable, and inviting.
How to Engage Remote Employees: 12 Tips for Strengthening Your Team
Despite the many benefits for remote employees, these factors alone are not enough to maintain high levels of employee engagement. Work from home (WFH) models need to be carefully considered to ensure there is enough support to keep staff motivated and connected. Check out our list of top tips for boosting remote employee engagement and strengthening your team.
- Develop a Solid Onboarding Process – When employees don’t get to meet their new colleagues in person, organizations must have a structured and interactive virtual onboarding process that provides plenty of information, contact, and ongoing support. Research shows that effective onboarding increases retention by 82%, yet employee feedback suggests 88% of organizations don’t onboard well in a remote setting.
- Communicate Effectively – Company communications must be clear and concise, and conversations should take place across designated platforms. Remote teams may not always be online at the same time, so utilizing a few different channels where communication is possible both in real-time and over offset hours is a good way to increase engagement. The most popular business communication channels include Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft teams. Make sure there aren’t too many communication channels as you don’t want to overload workers with multiple accounts to check.
- Utilize the Right Tools – Investing in collaboration tools that automate workflows improves communication and increases employee engagement. To manage a remote workforce effectively, you’ll need plenty of cloud storage, plus tools that help with:
- Project management – Examples include Trello, Asana, and Monday.
- Brainstorming – Mural and Miro are popular examples.
- Time tracking and focus – Apps like Toggl or Serene are popular options.
- Be Flexible – Give employees the flexibility to get their work done on their terms. Remote employee engagement suffers if staff feel they must be constantly available or that their manager doesn’t trust them to be working at the right times. Another factor to consider is whether your teams need to be fully remote. A hybrid model where time is split between home and office settings can boost morale, help with team building, and dispel any feelings of isolation or loneliness that set in through lack of personal contact.
- Promote Employee Wellbeing – Around 2 out of 3 remote workers report feeling isolated or lonely sometimes. Yet, a study by the American Psychiatric Association identified that only 56% of employees feel comfortable talking openly about mental health with coworkers and supervisors. Providing adequate wellness and mental health support is vital to employee engagement. Work from home policies should encourage open discussion and promote physical activities that support overall wellbeing. Teaming up with a dedicated partner like Eden Health is a great start.
- Encourage Social Interaction – Remote workers may love the flexibility and freedom of their home office. Still, most miss the social interactions of office life — even if it’s just a 5-minute chat by the coffee machine or water cooler each morning. Engaging remote workers on a social level fills this void and proves commitment to employee satisfaction outside the scope of everyday business tasks. One of the best ways to increase remote employee engagement is to create an online hub where employees can meet up for discussions. You could even organize online coffee breaks, virtual lunches, after-work happy hours, or weekly games or trivia nights.
- Take a Personal Interest – A certain amount of ‘banter’ happens in any office. In face-to-face situations, colleagues naturally wind up chatting about their hobbies, favorite sports teams, families, what they got up to on the weekend, etc. This is often lost in a remote environment, so building in time to chat about everyday topics is essential. It makes employees feel more emotionally connected and helps avoid stress and burnout.
- Provide the Right Equipment and Software – Remote workers need high-quality equipment and fast and reliable internet connections to work efficiently. So investing in the best technology and upgrades for your at-home staff is a no-brainer. The time saved on technical difficulties alone will negate the initial spend. Some employees may also need additional equipment. For example, a dyslexic employee may require screen reader software, while someone with back problems might need an ergonomic office chair.
- Show Appreciation – Research shows that remote workers log in for around 10% longer than traditional in-office staff, yet they often feel undervalued and don’t always feel like part of the team. Making employee recognition a priority increases remote workers engagement, especially when it’s offered in an open forum where other colleagues can weigh in with comments and likes.
- Encourage Professional Development – It’s important that professional development opportunities are offered in a remote setting. This will strengthen an employee’s knowledge of their position and help with their growth and development in their role. Best practices to encourage professional development include:
- Creating leadership development plans and making monitoring and evaluation a priority.
- Setting firm goals with clear and measurable metrics.
- Setting up regular 1:1’s between remote staff and managers to assess progress.
- Supporting continual progression through access to online courses.
- Standardizing performance reviews so remote workers aren’t passed over for promotion.
- Have a Work from Home Policy – Engaging remote workers and maintaining motivation levels is almost impossible without giving employees a clear and thorough breakdown of company expectations. A robust WFH policy should include guidelines and direction on:
- Working hours
- Communication processes
- Approval processes
- Time tracking
- Virtual etiquette
- IT support
- Ask for Feedback – If you’ve followed these steps and provided plenty of guidelines, support, and opportunities for staff to communicate and get involved, you’ll probably generate some feedback by default. But you’re likely to get a lot more if you ask! Plus, asking for feedback boosts remote employee engagement by giving your staff a voice and letting them know their opinion is valued. Feedback forms don’t need to be long or complicated. Popular methodologies include NPS surveys, pulse surveys, and 360 surveys.
Need help keeping your remote workforce happy, healthy, and productive? Eden Health specializes in providing full-spectrum primary care, mental health care, insurance benefit navigation services, and virtual care that your employees will love.
Contact us or request a demo today to discover how our collaborative approach to healthcare can save your company time and money while protecting your greatest asset: your employees.