The pandemic has forced many businesses into a new way of working, where employees are no longer physically present for most or all of their jobs. While this is an exciting change that can provide more freedom, it also means that companies need to find ways to keep their remote workforce engaged and feeling connected to other members of the organization.

This isn’t easy—remote work requires different management styles than office environments, which complicates things like motivation and productivity at times. But there are some tried-and-true methods for keeping remote teams happy and productive. Here’s how to get them started on the right foot.

How Do You Keep Remote Workers Involved and Engaged?

    1. Be Prepared to Be Flexible

Many people have been thrust into the manager’s role while they’re still learning what works best when managing others remotely. This can make them feel frustrated because they aren’t sure what to expect from their team, but it doesn’t mean you should throw up your hands and give up. Instead, try different strategies to determine what works best for your team.

    2. Provide Clear Goals and Objectives

When setting expectations for a project or assignment, it helps if everyone knows exactly what’s expected of them as well as why each step is necessary. If any team member feels left out, ask them to clarify their roles so you know who needs help with certain tasks.

    3. Set Consistent Deadlines

No matter whether you set deadlines by email, through Slack messages, or via text message, having consistent guidelines makes life easier for everyone. It gives managers something tangible to hold onto during meetings and keeps those responsible accountable. Once someone gets used to knowing when things will happen, they’ll become more reliable contributors.

    4. Have Regular Check-Ins

While it may seem silly, regularly checking in with your team members lets them know that you care about their progress and wellbeing. When you don’t see anyone every day, it’s easy to forget that important moments occur throughout the week and month. Holding virtual “water cooler” chats can remind them that they exist and motivate them to stay committed to projects.

    5. Offer Feedback Early and Often

Though we’ve had months to adjust to our new normal, some people haven’t fully adjusted yet. Those who’ve spent years sitting behind desks might not realize the changes they need to make to be more efficient at remote work. Giving honest feedback encourages the person receiving it to take ownership of improving habits and behaviors.

    6. Don’t Micromanage

It’s tempting to hover over your team members’ shoulders just to ensure everything goes smoothly, especially since you won’t be able to observe their behavior firsthand. However, micromanaging can lead to resentment among your staff. Give your team room to operate without constant supervision and encourage creativity instead of instructing them outright. Give remote workers a few days in between large-scale check-ins.

    7. Embrace Technology

As much as possible, use tools and apps that allow team communication to remain simple. Tools such as Asana and Trello are great for organizing tasks, calendars, and schedules. And video calls let your team connect face-to-face even though they live far away. Having separate platforms for collaboration versus messaging only allows your team to focus better on specific areas.

    8. Foster Camaraderie

Although distance separates your team members, it doesn’t mean they have to lose touch with one another. Encourage interaction and teamwork with weekly team-building events that bring everyone together. Whether it’s a game night, movie marathon, or anything else, it’s crucial to foster relationships within your group.

    9. Recognize Contribution

Everyone wants recognition for good work, regardless of location. In fact, research shows that positive reinforcement motivates us to perform better. So reward your team members whenever they meet a goal or accomplish a task successfully. Doing so fosters loyalty and trust between colleagues, making them want to continue contributing to your company.

    10. Appreciate Individuality

Some people thrive off social pressure and being part of larger groups; others prefer to stick to themselves and avoid distractions. Although it may sound counterintuitive, appreciate differences in personalities and preferences rather than trying to force everyone toward a single vision. Diversity strengthens your business because it provides a variety of perspectives and ideas.

    11. Use Humor

A little levity never hurt anyone! Find funny videos online or host a monthly comedy club meeting (or two). Everyone loves to laugh, and laughter does wonders for both physical and mental health. The key is to keep it lighthearted and fun.

    12. Create Opportunities for Cross-Training

If you offer training classes, consider offering similar sessions for your remote employees. For example, if you run a book club, invite your entire team to join you for a virtual reading session. Or, if you teach cooking skills, schedule a class where participants learn recipes using ingredients found in your pantry. These types of activities create connections between teammates and show them that you value their opinions and thoughts.

    13. Hold Contests

Contests are excellent ways to encourage engagement and competition. They boost morale, stimulate discussion, and build excitement for upcoming challenges that stretch individuals outside their comfort zones. A contest can benefit individuals across departments, allowing them to engage with coworkers they normally wouldn’t interact with due to limited access to common resources.

    14. Get Creative

Incorporating tech gadgets into daily routines offers endless possibilities for engaging with your remote team. Get creative when it comes to communication as well. Include quizzes and engaging questions in your daily emails.

Keeping your remote teams engaged should be a critical function within your organization. Despite the fact that these employees are out of sight, they shouldn’t be out of mind.

It’s important to keep them engaged and involved with all of the daily processes and up-to-date information about your company. It’s also important not to let them float too far out to sea. Always make sure you have a decent-sized remote team, so they’re not working autonomously. It’s important that they constantly have someone to collaborate with. This is the secret to keeping them on board and not losing them to something like freelance work. Download your free eBook on ‘How to Foster Employee Engagement through eLearning.’