Remote working is a perk that is often used to attract new people to a business and retain existing talent. However, despite the undoubted benefits being able to work from home can provide employees (for example improved productivity, better work-life balance, and money-saving opportunities), being sat alone all day with no one to interact with can be isolating. This sometimes results in workers becoming detached from their employers and colleagues.
In this article, we look at 7 tips on how you can ensure that remote workers stay engaged with your business, and ultimately feel included and part of the team. Let’s get started.
1. Hold regular catchups
In an office environment, there are numerous opportunities for colleague interactions throughout the day. Some of these are naturally about work but others are more generic; “Did you have a good weekend?”, “What did you get up to last night?”, “Did you see that TV show?”, for example. Regardless of how inane these conversations may seem, they help colleagues build a rapport with each other.
When an individual works from home, whilst they may have the occasional online interaction with someone, usually prompted by a work-related issue – they generally miss out on these smaller chats that can help them feel connected to a team.
To combat potential isolation, you should schedule a daily morning call with each of your teams, including office and remote workers. This gives everyone in the group an opportunity to discuss what they’ll be working on for the day, and a chance to talk about less pressing issues, such as last night’s football result.
As well as being productive in itself, this short meeting (we suggest they take no longer than 15 minutes) reminds your office-based workers that they have out-of-sight colleagues whom they should keep involved.
On top of this regular morning catchup, you should arrange and stick to monthly 1-2-1s with your remote workers, where you can discuss performance and how they are getting on generally. This will help you build a relationship and ascertain whether or not they are happy in their role. You can then take steps to address any problems.
2. Use the right collaboration tools
Make sure remote workers have all the right equipment and software to be able to do their jobs properly and collaborate efficiently with their colleagues.
Microsoft Teams and Google Workspace will provide you with email, live chat, video calling, and calendar functionality. We recommend doing your research and finding the provider that suits your needs and budget. Once you have decided, run internal training programmes to make sure everyone can use the software to a sufficient standard.
Finally, you may wish to implement a team intranet system, where you can post all of your business updates – from the launch of a new product or service, a new starter, or information on the upcoming Christmas Party. This will become a helpful tool in keeping your remote workers in the loop and engaged.
3. Communicate with added care
Instant chat tools (such as those provided by the aforementioned Microsoft Teams and Google Workspace) have revolutionised how colleagues collaborate. It doesn’t matter where someone is located, you can send them a quick message and receive a response within seconds. Without these tools, remote working – certainly as we recognise it – would not be possible. However, as fundamental as these now are, they can be agents of paranoia for the more anxious among your home workers.
When the number of actual interactions that a person has is limited, there can be a tendency to overanalyse them when they do occur. For example, what may seem like a quick piece of to-the-point feedback from you, may to them look like a scathing comment – and have them questioning the security of their job. If this happens in an office environment, a team member will have the immediate opportunity to talk to you to discuss this, whereas the remote worker is often left alone with their thoughts, thinking the worst.
Whilst you obviously need to be careful regarding the tone you take with all employees, you should put extra care into how you converse with your remote workers, ensuring nothing can be misconstrued.
When there is a need to provide constructive feedback, consider following up any emails or live messages with a video call, where you can elaborate on any points that were perhaps not clear. And of course, be sure to provide positive feedback whenever it is appropriate.
4. Get them in the office when you can
Constantly remind your remote workers that they are welcome to attend the office whenever it is convenient for them. This could be an ad-hoc day here and there, or if they live a long distance from the office, they could come in for the week.
You could sync this up and have all of your remote workers in at the same time, and arrange events around this, such as ‘Collaboration Days’ and ‘Innovation Weeks’, where everyone can forget their day-to-day roles for a period of time and collaborate on specific projects, such as developing a new product or service. Then, outside of work hours, you could encourage the team to socialise by putting on team events such as drinks, dinner, or an activity.
Remote working can be advantageous for employers and employees alike, but sometimes nothing beats getting the whole team together in the same room, especially when it comes to team building.
5. Mark special occasions
It’s a small gesture, but whenever it’s a remote worker’s birthday, send them a card signed by the team alongside a gift such as flowers, chocolates, gift vouchers, or a bottle of their favourite drink. You could also arrange a quick call with their immediate team, giving everyone the opportunity to wish them a happy birthday.
If the employee was in the office, they may bring in a cake, go out for lunch, and celebrate with drinks after their shift. However, when they’re at home, special occasions such as birthdays can go unmarked. Show that you care about your remote workers and make a fuss of them on these days.
6. Encourage workplace variety
For some home workers, working remotely isn’t a perk, but more of a requirement because of issues such as childcare or distance from the office. These employees may want to attend the office but simply can’t. In these scenarios, the team member may benefit from visiting a coworking space local to them for a few hours a day or week.
By surrounding themselves with other professionals in a working environment, the employee is less likely to be lonely, and in turn, become isolated from your business. This particular resolution is perfect for your employees who have expressed a dislike of their home working arrangement.
If this appeals to an employee, you could consider assisting them in researching appropriate spaces and helping cover the costs involved.
7. Promote inclusivity
You need to foster an inclusive company culture where your remote workers always feel valued. To do this, you must ensure that anyone working remotely never feels left out. This mindset needs to be applied to all aspects of your business, work, and social.
For example, if you’re having an impromptu in-office meeting about a project, invite all relevant remote workers to attend via a video call. This may feel like an inconvenience, but will benefit productivity as you will have all the necessary people there, and it will demonstrate to the employees that they are truly part of the team.
Regarding the social aspect, you must invite your remote workers to all team events. Even if you suspect that they will not attend, you need to give them the chance. Every Summer Party, Christmas Party, team building activity – if it’s a whole office event, invite your remote workers. And if they can’t attend, why not send them a delivery of some treats instead?
So there you have it
It’s all too easy for remote workers to feel detached from their employers and colleagues. This can be damaging to their long-term prospects at your business, and more importantly, their mental well-being. Follow the tips set out in this article to ensure your remote staff are engaged and connected.
We hope you have found this article useful. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or your own tips to share.