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How to Engage Employees When Working Remotely

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Though remote work has been on the rise for over a decade, it has gained immense popularity over the last two years, owing to the pandemic. And experts say that it will only continue to grow, as more and more businesses are familiarising themselves with the ‘new normal’ and realising the advantages of distributed teams. 

If you’re looking to build an efficacious software development team, hiring remote teams might be a lucrative move for your business. However, on the flip side, managing a remote team isn’t always easy. So how can you ensure that your distributed teams are productive, engaged, and successful? We’ve listed out five tips that you can implement starting today! 

1. Leverage technology to stay connected

It’s 2021, and modern communication has grown leaps and bounds over the last few years. Today, working with a team halfway across the globe is just as easy as working with a team next door, all thanks to technology. So if you’re collaborating with a distributed workforce, then technology and modern communication tools are your best friend. 

How to engage remote employees

Today, there are a plethora of digital tools available for different purposes, ranging from tools like Asana and Trello for project management to Slack and Zoom for video and audio conferencing. The key is to evaluate which applications you can use for your specific requirements and encourage your entire team to use them.

Schedule weekly 1-1 video catch-up calls, incorporate screen sharing during meetings and ensure that your remote team members feel seen and heard at all times. 

2. Send thoughtful care packages now and then 

Nothing says appreciation as much as an out-of-the-blue care package does. When working with remote teams, sometimes, there aren’t enough opportunities to recognise a team member’s effort or pat them on the back for a job well done. In such cases, a care package is a great substitute. 

Keep in mind that it doesn’t always have to be elaborate and expensive. Something as simple as a subscription to Netflix, a pair of funny socks, or even tickets to a creative workshop can leave a lasting impact on your remote employees. It is a small but effective touchpoint to let employees know that you care. 

If your organisation isn’t big on care packages and gifts, verbal acknowledgments can be just as effective. For instance, a genuine compliment like ‘Great job on how you handled that task. I really appreciate your quick response.’ can significantly lighten up an employee’s mood and make them feel recognised. 

3. Facilitate a culture of connectedness 

Employees, remote or otherwise, crave connection at the workplace. However, when you’re working with distributed teams, this can be a bit of a challenge. And that’s why it’s crucial to make an effort to create a culture of connectedness and recognise that your employees are more than just people who work for you — they’re all unique personalities with unique backgrounds, ideas, interests, and lives. 

As someone who is leading a distributed team, it is your responsibility to create a safe space where employees can be their authentic selves, indulge in light-hearted conversations, and make personal connections. The simplest way to facilitate this is to conduct ‘ice-breaker’ meetings where employees can talk about anything and everything that isn’t related to work — their weekend plans, their favorite holiday, or even a funny anecdote. The key here is to help team members get to know each other better. 

4. Listen and ask for feedback

When working with remote teams, building relationships with your employees and showing them that you care is extremely important. And one of the best ways to do this is to listen and ask for feedback. 

One of the easiest ways to do this is by creating a quick 5-minute survey that employees can take. Make sure to include questions like ‘What do you like best about working here?’, ‘How has your experience been so far?’, and ‘Do you have ideas about how we can improve our existing processes?’. These surveys significantly drive employee engagement and are usually a goldmine of ideas, just waiting to be implemented. 

And when you do implement some of the ideas, make sure that you communicate with your employees that you’ve taken action on their feedback, so they know that their opinion is valued. When employees feel heard, they are significantly more engaged and happier at work. 

5. Keep your remote employees updated

When working remotely, it’s easy for employees to get left out of the loop and feel disconnected. And that’s why it’s important to keep them updated on the progress of the entire team, new projects, goals, and company news. 

One way you can achieve this is by setting up a remote-friendly tracking system that provides all employees access to new projects, current progress, tasks of each employee, and the greater goals of the company. You can also schedule regular 1-1s with your distributed team to touch base on what’s happening at the company and give them direction and clarity about the next steps going forward. 

With remote working gaining significant popularity in recent times, managing and engaging distributed teams is the need for the hour. Implementing these simple tips in your day-to-day operations will ensure that your organisation reaps all the benefits of a remote workforce, and keep your employees engaged and productive at the same time. 

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