As the number of Americans who work remotely continues to increase, business owners and managers are finding that keeping workers engaged in a virtual environment can present some challenges. A recent Gallup poll found that only 30 percent of workers who work exclusively from home or mobile devices are engaged with their jobs, compared to a 33 percent engagement rate among all workers. Lack of connection with coworkers and lack of developmental guidance from managers contribute to these lower engagement levels.
Gallup’s research also found that companies who achieve higher engagement rates from remote workers take proactive steps to equip remote workers for success, with managers playing a key role in maintaining motivation. Here are four steps companies can take to build a strong company culture that promotes engagement in the virtual workplace.
Increasing Emotional Investment
A major reason remote employees aren’t emotionally invested in their companies is a perceived lack of career development potential. Lack of career development opportunities is the No. 1 reason employees cite for leaving their employer, says CEB Global.
Companies can increase employees’ emotional investment by investing in worker career development. Wagepoint recommends building a learning culture that promotes development of new job skills. This can be done by adopting innovative technologies, offering training opportunities, using on-the-job training to cultivate skill development and holding periodic meetings with workers to discuss how to achieve their career goals.
Another strategy Wagepoint recommends for promoting a learning culture is encouraging workers to form mentoring relationships. In addition to imparting job skills training, mentoring relationships can also figure into a broader strategy of building camaraderie among members of your remote work team.
Productivity consultancy Jell suggests a combination of strategies to build camaraderie. One strategy is having “daily stand-ups” where managers have each team member begin each workday by asking what they accomplished yesterday, what they plan to do today, and what challenges they face in accomplishing their goals for the day. In addition to such work-oriented camaraderie exercises, Jell also recommends holding regular social activities, such as hosting a company social chat area where workers can talk about different non-work topics. This effectively creates a virtual water cooler.
Using Video to Bridge Distance
Lack of live interaction is another contributor to remote worker disengagement. Creating opportunities for face-to-face conversations can help make remote workers feel more connected.
One efficient way to engage remote workers in face-to-face conversations is to incorporate regular video conference calls into your company’s routine. This can include weekly or monthly group progress reports as well as one-on-one meetings. Using a unified communications solution, like a virtual office, that includes video call capability can help support this strategy.
Planning Live Events to Build Community
Live face-to-face events where team members are physically in the same room can also provide a big boost to remote worker engagement. If your company can afford it, assemble your remote team at the same physical location in the same physical location at least one or two times a year, recommends Web Profits.
Occasions for live face-to-face activities can include training seminars and workshops to help develop worker skill sets. More social activities such as picnics and sports events can also help your remote workers feel more engaged with their fellow employees and your company.