3 Best Practices for Engaging Remote Employees
According to statistics from GlobalWorkPlaceAnalytics.com, the non-self-employed work-from-home population has grown 103 percent between 2005 and 2015. However, without well-defined expectations and everyday communication, a remote employee may feel forgotten, disconnected, or unmotivated.
If your company has remote employees, or is thinking about starting a work-from-home program, consider these three best practices to help ensure working from home is a positive experience for everyone.
1. Set Clear Expectations and Communicate Frequently
Managers should attempt to hire individuals who are self-starters and have the motivation to succeed in a remote position. It is also management's job to foster a productive environment built on open communication. From the beginning, a manager should set clear expectations for their remote employees, including:
- Guidelines for when they are expected to be on the clock,
- Job responsibilities, and
- Performance goals.
Take time to discuss the employee's expectations and concerns about working remotely. Schedule regular one-on-ones and explain the key performance indicators for job evaluation. Feedback and follow-through on the employee's performance can be critical to their productivity and accountability. Praise the employee for their contributions and highlight their accomplishments.
2. Include Remote Employees in Teambuilding Activities
Lisa Cole, a business program manager who heads the work-from-home program at Paychex, believes managers should move beyond the mindset that individuals need to be physically present in order to hold a team event. Cole suggests teambuilding via online communication, such as a quote of the day, email bingo, or trivia quizzes. If a reward is offered in the office, such as free lunch or a party, let the remote employee attend virtually and send them a gift card. She suggests using Web cameras whenever possible to enhance team events.
3. Take Advantage of Online Collaboration Tools
There are many virtual communication options available to keep an employee connected with their supervisor, team, and company. Microsoft OneNote, SharePoint, and OneDrive; Cisco WebEx; and Google Hangout are great options to share knowledge and enhance meetings. Cole recommends offering technical training to instruct remote employees and their managers on virtual tools and resources. She has also found success in using a shared site and monthly forums for all remote employees to share their experiences, discuss policies, or troubleshoot technical issues.
A work-from-home program thrives when employers focus on employee productivity, engagement, and connectivity. By setting clear expectations with remote employees, communicating with them frequently, including them in teambuilding activities, and taking advantage of online collaboration tools, managers can help their remote employees feel engaged with their team—and boost the chances of success in a remote position.