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Recognizing Your Remote Employees & Keeping Them Engaged

Long before the global pandemic, remote working was a growing trend.  It is entirely possible though, that the coronavirus has exposed you to the unique challenges that come with managing a remote workforce for the very first time. 

If so, then you might be scratching your head wondering how on earth to keep people you can’t see and interact with directly motivated and engaged.

If you’ve been asking those types of questions, then this article will help, both in the here and now, and long after the pandemic behind us, because one thing’s for certain; going forward, remote working is only going to become more common, not less.

Let’s start with employee engagement because that’s the single biggest challenge you’ll face as a manager with remote employees. 

Keeping people engaged even when you see them face to face every day can be a daunting challenge, and it’s at least twice as big a challenge when they’re working remotely.  The single biggest thing you can do to make your remote employees feel like they’re part of the team is to maintain regular informal communications with them.

Think about it:  When employees share the same office space, there are innumerable opportunities for small talk and ‘water cooler gossip.’  These are just ordinary human interactions that most of us take for granted, but remote workers get exactly none of that, which can make them feel isolated and disconnected.  That, in turn, leads to lower morale and increasing disengagement.

Not every communication you send out has to be about work.  Take the time, on a human level, to reach out to your remote employees.  Share a joke.  A meme.  A funny story. 

Ultimately, the particulars don’t matter.  What matters is the reaching out in an informal capacity.  That’s what fosters a sense of inclusion.

Basically, this comes down to making sure all of your employees, whether they’re in the office with you or not, get the same treatment.  Since your remote workers don’t have access to those informal interactions, take the time to give them some.

In a similar vein, treat the work spaces of your remote employees exactly like you would those of the people in the office with you.  If you, for example, give everybody a plant to liven up their desks, make sure all of your remote people get one too!  That applies to absolutely everything, by the way. 

Yes, providing training for remote employees is a bit more difficult than the readily available training your on-site people get, but taking the time to make sure they’re not forgotten or lost in the shuffle really goes a long way.

Also, be sure you’re taking the time to discuss growth and development, along with the goals, challenges and frustrations faced by your remote team members.  By being proactive on that front, you’ll keep small, budding problems from blossoming into much bigger ones.

Then there’s recognition.  If you have an employee recognition program, ask yourself when the last time one of your remote employees was recognized for their efforts and contributions. 

If you’re like many managers with remote employees, you may be struggling to remember, and it’s quite possible that it’s literally never happened.

The bottom line is, your remote employees do contribute.  Their work often goes unseen because it’s out of sight and out of mind until and unless there’s a problem, and that’s a big part of the reason that so many remote workers report higher levels of stress and lower job satisfaction than there in-house peers.

Change that.  Make it a point to call attention to the accomplishments of your remote team members.  Recognize them with gifts and awards, just like you do with your in-house people. 

Even if all you do is send them a gift card with a hand-written note expressing your appreciation, it’ll have an amazing effect on morale and engagement.  In fact, multiple studies have shown that recognition in any form has a bigger impact on employee engagement than anything else.  That’s true no matter where the employee in question works from.

And at Successories, we have a whole range of gifts for employees working remotely. You can find all the different categories of gifts and rewards on the home page of the site.

In conclusion, if you’re worried that your remote employees aren’t as happy as they could be, you’re probably right.  The good news is that there’s an easy way to fix that!