Employee engagement has been a pivotal focal point among the minds of all industry business leaders for years. Yet, companies continue to find it one of their biggest challenges.
Aiming for a workplace environment that proactively inspires a team of individuals to deliver their best efforts, while aligning with a company’s mission, is not always easy to accomplish.
Engagement is a two-way street. It takes both engaged managers and engaged employees to develop an engaged workplace. But what about the employees that you cannot interact with daily? Are they engaged?
The number of engaged employees within your company may be hard to quantify, but you can see it on their faces, and through their attitudes — they demonstrate it through their work and through their workplace communication. So, if you’re managing employees with whom you seldom have face-to-face interactions, are they still engaged?
According to a Gallup survey, an optimal engagement increase occurs when the employee spends 60% to less than 80% of their workweek — or three to four days — working off-site. This survey indicates that the engagement levels of employees working in a different location from their managers may not be negatively impacted if their workweek is balanced between home and office. However, employees that work remotely 100% of their time have a different result, tending to be among the least engaged of all remote workers. In fact, the engagement levels of these employees are the same as those who never work remotely, with total engagement of only 30%.
Working remotely with an at-home and office balance may be most effective for engagement purposes; however, managers may not always have this option. Sometimes it is necessary for employees to work remotely, or in the office collaborating with their colleagues, daily. Since optimal engagement is still a primary goal, managers can set fully remote employees up for success by developing strong manager/employee relationships, and providing optimal training and tools.
Whether you’ve been managing telecommuters for years or have just begun, follow these simple tips to begin mastering the remote option:
1. Determine if it’s a good fit for the work and the employee.
Is the employee self-accountable? Not everyone has the discipline and motivation to complete projects or meet deadlines without direct supervision in a flexible environment.
Or what about the work itself? Some tasks may be better suited for remote workers than the in-office employees. Which will help them stay engaged with their work.
2. Set clear objectives and expectations.
Make sure the remote employee is fully aware of what is expected of them: the type of accountability needed, number of hours, types of projects, their goals, etc. It will be important to lay this all out in the beginning to avoid any unnecessary confusion in the future.
3. Set up effective ways to communicate.
Managers should develop a well thought out communication system in place for their remote employees. This makes it easier for the manager to keep the employees in the loop and promote engagement with the whole team.
Be sure to establish a time and method for regular weekly check-ins to review goals and upcoming projects and to create an open dialogue for any questions the remote employee has been meaning to ask. Scheduling regular face-to-face encounters with the manager and team, at least once or twice a quarter, is another great way to continue building relationships and keep employees feeling known and engaged with their job.
4. Track progress.
Implementing a structured method for tracking progress weekly will be key for both the individual remote employee and the team for hitting deadlines and achieving goals. It will also be important to remember what’s in the work pipeline as the list grows longer.
Managing and motivating remote employees all while keeping them engaged is a challenge, but just remember it’s a work in progress. A firm strategy in place, transparency and providing optimal training and tools to these employees will lead you in the right direction of a remote group of high performers.