Keeping Remote Employees Engaged Long-Term

Although the pandemic brought corporate remote working to the forefront, the concept has been around for at least half a century. Proponents of the Clean Air movement in 1970 regularly touted decentralized workspaces as a way to cut pollution by reducing commuting. 

By 1979, IBM was experimenting with remote working by letting a few employees work from home. Within four years, about 2,000 IBM employees were working remotely. By 1987, more than 1.5 million American employees regularly worked from home.

And it’s taken off from there. In 2019, the year before the pandemic began, an estimated 4.7 million Americans worked remotely. By 2022, Gallup found that 8 in 10 employees were working in at least a hybrid arrangement, if not fully remote.

We all know keeping employees engaged is the best way to keep them satisfied, productive, and not looking elsewhere. However, many companies have found over the past three years that keeping remote employees engaged, particularly over the long term, requires different strategies and tactics than they used with on-site workers.

Strategies for Long-Term Engagement

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

When remote workers are included in the dialogue, they feel empowered, connected, and engaged in their work. It’s essential to keep remote workers regularly updated on goals, projects, team progress, and company news. 

With no break room to post notices in or water coolers to gather around, the dissemination of information gets far more complex. Check-in regularly with your remote employees for one-on-one and team meetings so everyone can touch base and keep their fingers on the company pulse.

Use technology to stay connected.

Keep remote employees connected through the strategic use of technology. For example, tools like Asana, GoToMeeting, Slack, and Zoom help to streamline communication and project management between team members and keep everyone on the same page. 

While digital chats and emails are great communication methods, face-to-face video conferencing will help team members feel more present. Regular staff meetings over Zoom and similar video platforms can also help change how in-house staff views remote workers.

Facilitate social interaction among employees.

According to numerous surveys, the number one drawback of working remotely is loneliness. It’s up to managers to facilitate social interaction among employees by conducting video chats, virtual team-building activities, and holding online social hours. The occasional in-person outing for remote workers who live near corporate locations can further strengthen connections.

New hires should be assigned a mentor so they have a specific person they can go to with questions since they can’t count on someone at a nearby desk.

Don’t just tell them; show them.

Respect worker time around schedules, assignments, and performance expectations by setting healthy boundaries. Make time to chat with employees about family, personal hobbies, stress and mental health, and workload (burnout can occur more quickly in remote situations).

Provide tools to succeed.

A key component of improving engagement and performance is ensuring employees have the tools to work confidently. This goes beyond hardware and equipment to include professional development.

Consider offering stipends for co-working space rental for employees who don’t have appropriate space at home and/or covering the costs of sending employees to professional development courses.

Listen to the feedback you receive.

Employees who feel valued are happier and more engaged. Ask for feedback and comment on it, so they know you’ve not just heard it but listened, too. Over four out of five (82%) of employees appreciate feedback, even if it’s negative, as it shows that their work has a purpose and that their managers are paying attention. More than four out of 10 (43%) highly-engaged employees get feedback at least once weekly.

Managers should be bold in giving constructive negative feedback, so long as they remember to do so in a manner that conveys empathy and reflects an understanding of employee roles.

Offer hybrid arrangements where possible.

Although employees are generally happier, less stressed, and more productive when working remotely, those who spend a mix of time at home and in the office feel more engaged. Gallup has found that the optimal engagement boost is when employees work from home 3-4 days out of a five-day workweek. 

Recognize and reward employee contributions.

Remote workers tend to put in more hours than their in-office counterparts but often don’t feel part of the team. One solution is to make employee recognition a priority. Regular recognition from peers and managers helps employees feel connected, appreciated, and valued.

Leverage an online recognition platform to allow every employee to view, comment, and receive recognition in real-time. Research has determined time and time again that employee recognition is a top driver for employee engagement.

Sustainable work-life balance opportunities should become part of your recognition and rewards program. For example, consider revising or adding options that address flexible time and location, such as Friday afternoons off or “flex weeks,” in which employees can choose their daily hours.

Work With Xceleration

Managing a remote team takes special effort to keep them satisfied and productive. When you make regular, constructive, positive recognition part of your company culture, you’ll create a more engaged workforce that’s far less likely to look elsewhere over the long term.

Contact Xceleration today to learn how our platform can equip your business with the tools you need for an effective, impactful employee recognition program.

Share this post!