How to keep remote employees engaged

Photo of bored-looking man wearing glasses and a suit with chin on hands staring at a laptop screenA lot of people are asking variations on this question.

How to keep remote teams engaged. How to keep remote employees engaged with the company culture. How to make sure remote employees feel part of the team / part of the company. How to onboard remote employees.

And so on. And on. And on.

Apparently it’s a deep and burning issue.

Bluntly: I don’t get it.

It’s no different from before

Treat employees with respect.

Communicate effectively.

Offer development and advancement opportunities.

Make sure they know how their work fits into a bigger picture.

And for onboarding, give new employees more than a half-day overview of company policies; give them a six-month ramp-up, including regular check-ins with their manager and at least one peer mentor or “buddy.”

Okay, it is a little different

Without casual meetings in hallways and by the coffee maker, it takes more intentionality and focus to stay connected. Which is why I’ve been recommending virtual office hours for years now as part of managing remote teams.

Since remote employees can’t just stick their heads into the leader’s physical office space, they need a way to “stick their head” into a virtual space, and have permission – in fact, encouragement – to do so.

Just open up a Zoom (or your platform of choice) meeting at a specified, regular time each week, and let people know they can hop on if they want to talk. You can lock the room when someone’s there, and then anyone trying to come in knows to come back later. Or enable the “waiting room” function and let people in one at a time.

It’s the equivalent of the open office door that is then closed when someone’s with you. And it helps take the place, at least partially, of those random meetings in hallways or by the coffeepot.

Yes, I know people are talking about “Zoom fatigue.” Do it anyway. (And consider that if your team is suffering from Zoom fatigue, you’re probably holding too many other meetings.)

How to keep remote employees engaged? It's the same as before - respect, communication, opportunities - just *more intentional*. Click To Tweet

Who’s asking this “how” question?

Maybe I’m cynical, but my guess is that the companies asking how to keep remote employees engaged are the companies who were having engagement issues when everyone was in the same building. Sure, there are some ideas that may be new (I’m a little startled by the number of people on LinkedIn who called my “virtual office hours” concept “brilliant,” but hey, I’ll take it!). But in essence, it’s the same set of core principles:

Respect

Communication

Opportunity for development and advancement

And I’ll add one more point: be an engaged manager and leader

If you were doing those things before, keep doing them. If you weren’t, well, get started!


If you liked this post, you might like Managing a Remote Team (video)

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gljudson Management & Leadership