A man sitting in a chair with a laptop in front of a window, engaging remote workers.

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How to Engage Remote Workers Effectively

Effective communication is crucial for keeping remote teams on track, but communication alone is not enough. To truly engage remote workers and build a strong, productive team, managers must focus on building connections. In this blog, we will explore how to move from communication to connection and provide practical tips on how to engage remote workers effectively.

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In the wake of the pandemic, the number of remote workers has skyrocketed to unprecedented levels. A Gallup survey in June of 2022 found that 8 in 10 people are hybrid or remote working. An AT&T study found the hybrid work model is expected to grow from 42% in 2021 to 81% in 2024. The question is how to engage remote workers effectively. And still, ensure that a business keeps scaling!

While remote work offers many benefits, such as increased flexibility and autonomy, it also presents unique challenges for managers and team leaders. Effective communication is crucial for keeping remote teams on track, but communication alone is not enough. To truly engage remote workers and build a strong, productive team, managers must focus on building connections.

In this blog, we will explore how to move from communication to connection and provide practical tips for engaging remote workers effectively.

The Importance of Connection in Remote Work

At the end of the day no-one wants to feel like they’re just there to do a job.

Connection in the context of remote work is about the level of involvement and bonding between remote workers and their coworkers, team members, and the business. It’s about creating a sense of community, trust, and shared purpose among team members despite physical separation and a lack of face-to-face communication.

But why?

Increased job satisfaction and motivation: Remote workers who feel linked to their coworkers and their organization are more likely to enjoy their work, feel respected, and be motivated to achieve their objectives.

Better collaboration and teamwork: A strong sense of connection among team members creates trust, open communication, and effective collaboration, resulting in greater outcomes and a more positive work environment.

Improved mental health and well-being: Remote work can be alienating and lonely, but connecting with coworkers can help minimize feelings of loneliness and isolation and promote greater mental health and well-being.

Strategies for Engaging Remote Workers

Use communication tools and best practices

Set up regular check-ins:

With frequent check-ins, routines can be created, and team members can stay on the same page. Managers can set up private meetings with members of their remote teams to review progress, provide feedback, and address any concerns.

Use video calls:

Let’s face it, online meetings and video calls can be boring! (At Whale, we try for this not to be the case as per the image below)

But it doesn’t have to be that way!

Video calls can allow for more fascinating and personal conversations if used properly.

Video calls can allow team members to see and hear one another, which fosters partnerships and reduces feelings of loneliness. Using a screen recorder during online meetings might help you capture key information that was delivered and share it with people who were unable to attend. Furthermore, it can help enhance meeting efficiency and effectiveness by letting attendees to focus on the talk rather than taking comprehensive notes.

💡 TOP TIP – Don’t use death by two hour-long PowerPoint presentations in video meetings! Supercharge meetings with the right structure. Length matters!

Team Whale video meetings

Establish communication norms:

To make sure that team members are all on the same page and feel connected, communication norms can be established, such as response times and channels.

Build trust and relationships

Create opportunities for social interactions:  

Social connections let remote workers feel more bonded to their coworkers. This can be accomplished through virtual team-building exercises like team lunches and coffee breaks.

💡 TOP TIP – Not EVERYTHING has to be work. Creating opportunities for play can also lead to greater working relationships and enhanced productivity. We make sure our whole team meets once a quarter in person to keep connected.

A group of people playing foosball in an arcade.

Recognize and celebrate achievements:

Recognizing accomplishments, no matter how big or small, promotes a healthy work environment and demonstrates team members’ appreciation. Achievements can be celebrated publicly, virtually, or with small gifts from managers. Using apps like Karma (as we use for Whale) can be a great way to celebrate victories and achievements.

Engage remote workers achievements with Karma

💡 TOP TIP – You can also post videos on your company’s social media account for remote worker’s achievements. You can collate video greetings from everyone. Make sure to use a video compressor to ensure quality will not be lost when uploaded. 

Offer support and guidance:

Making remote workers feel valued and supported can be accomplished by providing support and advice. To assist team members in achieving their objectives, managers might offer coaching, mentoring, and resources.

Foster a sense of belonging

Encourage collaboration and teamwork:

Collaboration and effort can help to build a sense of community and a sense of common purpose. Managers can enhance teamwork through virtual brainstorming sessions, team projects, and other collaborative activities.

💡 TOP TIP – Make sure to pair cross-functional teams when working on projects. This helps create a sense of shared ownership.

Provide opportunities for personal and professional development:

According to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report 2021, Gen Z wants to learn their way up the career ladder—and smart companies are providing the way.

Offering opportunities for professional and personal development reflects the organization’s dedication to the success of its remote team members. This category includes online schooling, virtual gatherings, and other learning possibilities.

💡 TOP TIP – Use Whale to create automated learning journeys.

Encourage feedback and ideas:

Everyone wants to feel heard. Engage remote workers through encouraging feedback. Employees who work remotely may feel more appreciated and involved in the firm if they are encouraged to contribute feedback and suggestions. Managers can solicit input through regular surveys, virtual suggestion boxes, and other feedback methods.

💡 TOP TIP – Set up a time for a half-hour coffee chat with a remote team member. You’ll be surprised how much people will open up when invited to do so.

Additional considerations in engaging remote workers

  • Consistently update your processes: Keeping up-to-date is 9/10ths of the law when it comes to great employee onboarding — set regular reminders to make sure your knowledge stays relevant, and employees know the latest on everything from policies to branding. (Psst! With Whale you can set automatic reminders for subject matter experts so they remember to update key docs when it really matters).
  • Utilize employee networks to boost productivity and reduce isolation: Despite the many pros of remote work, a huge 26% of employees actually feel isolated when they work remotely. Connect remote employees while they learn with on-the-go messaging. Tools like Whale allow new hires to directly message subject matter experts to gain extra insights and bond with colleagues. It’s a win-win.
  • Invest in a smart training and knowledge platform: Wherever your employees work, investing in a training platform can help boost employee onboarding, training, and support via a streamlined system (we know one that fits the bill 😉). As the world becomes more digital-dependent it really is a no-brainer.
  • Consider well-being: Remote workers are far more prone to mental health and well-being challenges as a result of being isolated. Promote well-being amongst remote team members by encouraging community meet-ups and offering perks such as gym memberships and healthy eating meal kits.

Bottom line?

In conclusion, the shift from communication to connection is critical for effectively engaging remote workers in today’s workforce. By fostering a sense of connection and belonging, companies can improve employee engagement, increase productivity, and ultimately drive their bottom line.

According to a study by Gallup, highly engaged remote workers are 21% more likely to exceed performance expectations than those who are less engaged. Additionally, companies with highly engaged employees see a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity.

Therefore, it’s important for companies to prioritize connection-building efforts, such as virtual team-building activities, regular check-ins, and transparent communication. By doing so, they can create a more engaged and connected workforce, which will ultimately lead to better business outcomes.

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Readiness to Scale Assessment

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