No Face Time? No Problem: How to Keep Virtual Workers Engaged


    Remote work is common practice in many industries today. While it has its fair share of benefits, like saving time and money on commutes and encouraging better work-life balance, it also has some downsides.

    Because they’re not in the office with their team, remote workers often feel less engaged and connected to their company, which can hurt productivity and performance.

    “Keeping remote workers engaged is a necessary part of leading a remote team, company or employee,” said Rachel Jay, senior career writer at FlexJobs. “Without the ability to have organic conversations in the break room or at each other’s cubicles, it takes a more concentrated effort for remote workers to engage with others … A lack of engagement can lead to isolation and loneliness, a lack of passion for the company’s vision or goals, and feeling unhappy and unappreciated.”

    When managers and company leaders make priorities of employee engagement and teamwork, regardless of an employee’s location, the organization, as a whole, thrives.

    Here are some ways to make your virtual staff feel like they’re truly part of the team.

    While you want to be professional with your team, keep in mind that your workers are still human. They have loved ones, celebrations and bad days like everyone else. As an employer, recognize their strengths, weaknesses and interests to better connect with them.

    “Keep tabs on what your workers do but also what they really love to do,” said Jay. When you know what they enjoy, you can implement it into their work by creating assignments or awarding promotions related to their passions.

    Remote employees will feel more engaged and committed to the company and their role if they know that you care about them not only as an employee but as a person as well.

    “Remember that engagement is not simply ‘checking up’ but fostering personal connection,” she said.

    In fact, it’s important to plan out personal time like virtual get-togethers for non-work related chats, Jay added. At work, there’s always something stressful to discuss. But you don’t want every conversation to feel tense and dreaded. Make time for work outings or celebratory video calls.

    Even with something as simple as benefits or bonuses, communicating with employees about their own individual experience in a personalized, relevant way stands out to a remote worker.

    Businesses struggle with one-size-fits-all communication, [because] it doesn’t necessarily work,” said Chris Wakely, executive vice president of global enterprise for Benify. “Sending information based on the circumstances of the individual is a great way to get a person’s attention.”

    Above all, companies must remember that transparency and honesty is key to cultivating strong employee engagement, in or out of the office.

    “Build stronger relationships with virtual workers,” Wakely said. “Personal, short, direct and honest [communication] is crucial.”

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