“To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other. A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision.”- Richard Branson
The founder of Virgin Mobile and a self-proclaimed non-office worker, Richard Branson, brings to light one of the main issues remote workers face — maintaining connection and engagement while working outside company walls.
This certainly is not the only situation that can raise questions for remote employees and their managers. It’s a tricky line as a home office does not allow for the oversight of traditional work environments, but some individuals produce stronger, more innovative work when not in a cube farm. As Branson attests frequently, leadership teams must work with employees to find their best work environment so that individuals reach their fullest potential.
For leaders, this then raises an important question: How do you ensure all team members feel valued equally, regardless of their location? Whether down the hall or miles away, feeling engaged and connected to daily workplace activities as well as with the company overall matters greatly. We have developed the following checklist as a starting point to evaluate how you are doing when it comes to engaging your remote workers.
ARE YOU USING AVAILABLE TECHNOLOGY AND ARE YOU DOING IT IN AN INCLUSIVE WAY?
Email, video conferencing and instant messages are just a few of the many technologies available to facilitate meetings and daily activities with your team. For remote workers, this is their primary form of connection to not only the team, but the company, so use the tools wisely so that employees feel connected.
Keep in mind that while technology is great, meeting online is a very different experience and changes communication for all involved parties. Be intentional about arranging at least one in person meeting a year to maintain and develop relationships with the entire team.
DO YOU KEEP YOUR REMOTE TEAM MEMBERS IN THE LOOP ABOUT THE LITTLE THINGS AS WELL AS THE BIG ONES?
It can be easy to forget to communicate the passing remarks made after hanging up from meetings or the quick thoughts and ideas that get stirred through hallway conversations. As a manager, one of the most important proactive measures you can take is scheduling one-on-ones or another form of weekly communication to share these small contributions and ideas with remote employees. Keeping remote employees connected to small office matters is just as important as their connection to big, company objectives.
AS A MANAGER, DO YOU RECOGNIZE YOUR REMOTE EMPLOYEES WORK AND ACHIEVEMENTS?
Remembering to acknowledge different accomplishments and milestones is easier when you walk past a person every day or are with them as they finish projects. The real challenge for managers is to remember to recognize those that aren’t in the same location as you just as frequently. Employees should feel valued and you are in a unique position to do so as well as model to the rest of the team members how they can appreciate one another.
AND FINALLY, DO YOUR REMOTE WORKERS KNOW THAT YOU TRUST THEM TO DO THEIR JOB TO THEIR FULLEST ABILITY AT HOME OR IN AN OFFICE?
We said at the beginning that these efforts to keep your remote workers more engaged will not be effective if they do not feel trusted by you. If your employees feel that you doubt their ability to manage themselves and their workload, it could lead to other consequences, including losing them from your team. Reiterating that you support their ability to prioritize and make decisions independently will aide in this effort.
WHEN YOU TAKE THE PULSE ON YOUR ENGAGEMENT OF REMOTE EMPLOYEES, HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP?
If you are finding that you can’t check this list off with your current activities as a manager, that is fine. Use this checklist to help you develop a plan to better engage your team members, at home and in the office.