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Engaging Your Remote Team: 9 Tips to Avoiding Isolation

Written by
Anastasia Masters
Anastasia Masters

In the modern workplace, employers are becoming more flexible when it comes to schedule and location. It’s no longer necessary to sit in the same office next to all of your coworkers from 9 to 5 each day.

The remote workforce is growing and doesn’t show signs of slowing down any time soon. In order to retain remote employees, leaders need to take an active approach to engagement.

9 ways to prioritize engagement within your remote team

There are many ways to engage your team, and the following tips are specifically designed to engage your remote workforce. Engaged employees are happier employees and are more dedicated to the work they’re doing for your organization.

1. Make onboarding interactive 

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From their very first day with the organization, you should be engaging your remote team members. Customize the onboarding experience to make it interactive. Your entire team should be involved in the process of welcoming new employees and getting them up to speed.

Think about different ways to introduce new team members to their roles, the company culture, and the vision of the organization, while fostering connections early on. Give your new hire a project they can work on throughout the onboarding process so they don’t feel like they’re being lectured for their first week.

Make sure that your onboarding process also includes team members from other teams to build connections and help them see how their role fits within the entire organization. Building these relationships also prevents siloes within the organization.

2. Have regular trainings

Ongoing professional development should be pillar of your corporate environment—not just something that exists during the onboarding period. A learning management system can help organize and track employee training efforts.

Encourage your team members to participate in webinars or video courses to continue developing their skills. Hosting internal webinars is a great way to involve entire teams and work on a skill that may be lacking in a larger group.

Group video sessions via a video conferencing tool can help serve as a classroom and allow for lessons to be taught from a variety of teachers. Experiment to find out what works best for your organization.

3. Clarify your company’s mission and values

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If your team knows the bigger picture of what they’re working towards and can connect to it, they’re more likely to be engaged with your organization. To encourage that, make sure that your company values and mission statement are clear, relatable, and honest.

During onboarding, have a session where senior leadership reviews the mission and values and what they mean to the organization. Remote employees should be able to feel the impact of the vision and culture, even from afar.

4. Make role expectations and goals transparent

A remote team member can easily become disengaged and feel left out if they aren’t clear about what’s expected of their role. There’s a good chance you may not talk to your remote team members each day, and you definitely might not see them that often, so you’ll need to set them up for maximum success on their own.

Provide them with the tools and knowledge to complete the expectations of their role, and if you assign them a new project, give them proper training and expectations.

Being remote, it’s easy to feel isolated and that you aren’t meeting up to your goals as your co-located team members are. As a leader, you’ll need to be extra clear about goals and how your team members are performing towards those goals. Have regular one-on-ones with your team members to communicate what’s happening.

5. Create communication standards

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Remote and distributed teams call for a greater focus on communication standards. The more effective your communication is, you’ll be able to eliminate more misunderstandings.

Clarify what communication tool will be used for different messages. For example, you could choose a messaging tool such as Slack to be used as a chatter channel. This can help replace the daily chit-chat that comes with a co-located team. However, a channel such as email can serve for the big announcements that could be lost elsewhere.

Err on the side of over-communicating with your team rather than under-communicating. A simple check-in each day with your team member reminds them that you’re there to help and they aren’t alone.

6. Don’t micromanage

A great characteristic of any leader is to avoid micromanaging and allow your team members to have freedom. This is especially true for managers who lead remote workers. Consider allowing your remote workers to have a flexible schedule. As long as they’re getting their work done, you should let them complete it when they want.

Give them tools to help with their time management. A project management tool can help you stay on top of their progress and give you visibility on where you might need to jump in and help a bit.

7. Call out a job well done

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Employee recognition is crucial no matter where your employees are located. However, you’ll need to take an active approach to recognizing your remote employees since it won’t come as naturally as it does when they’re in person. Improving your remote employee engagement can be made even simpler with an employee recognition platform.

Notice something small that they did above and beyond their normal expectations? Make sure they know you saw it. These little compliments can add up a lot to how valued team members feel in the workplace.

8. Meet more often

Meeting more can help your team members feel better connected to you, the rest of the team, and the entire organization. However, don’t have meetings for the sake of them. Make sure that they are productive meetings (and maybe even enjoyable). Requiring that these meetings have a camera may seem annoying, but the face-to-face connection is a great way to engage your remote teams.

Try to have meetings where you bring your entire workforce together, yes including your remote team members. Having a large offsite gathering can enhance relationships and remind remote employees that they’re part of the team no matter where they spend most of their days.

9. Measure and improve

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Engaging your remote employees is no walk in the park, but it’s important in order to have an engaged team. Measure with eNPS surveys to gauge employee engagement and get an accurate snapshot of what your company culture is like. Once you review the results, make improvements to fill the gaps and reinforce actions that are already supporting your areas of strength.

Successful companies are made up of engaged employees, so make sure to prioritize employee engagement for your remote team members, as well. Need a few more ideas? Check out this resource: 

Read the Guide to Modern Employee Recognition

Originally published on November 14, 2019 → Last updated November 21, 2019

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Anastasia Masters

Anastasia Masters is a Content Marketing Associate at G2. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in history. In her spare time, Anastasia enjoys eating her way through Chicago's different neighborhoods, planning her next trip, and binging a new show on Netflix. You can follow her on Twitter at @anastasia_mm0.

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