The challenge of engagement doesn't start once employees begin working away from the office. In fact, decades of Gallup studies suggest that engagement levels within traditional workplaces have remained stubbornly flat, despite billions spent annually on strategies designed to reward and incentivise that engagement.
Despite that, much of the conversation - and the solutions - to better engaging distributed and remote employees revolve around ensuring they're included in the good things that the office setting can offer. The ease and frequency of communication, feeling part of an appreciative culture and part of the workplace community.
If engaging remote workers is one of your top challenges for 2020 and beyond, here are four ways in which you can keep them in the loop and in the job.
Use a central communication tool
A large majority of workplaces will in some form, away from email, have a central communication platform where colleagues, different teams and higher-ups can engage in the same conversation from anywhere. Think Slack or Yammer, even Workplace by Facebook.
These chat programs take up a heightened significance when incorporating distributed workers into the team where everyone can talk in real-time and contribute to the project they're collectively working on. Professional chat tools like this are also great outlets to ask for help, move away from the more fragmented conversations that email provides and allow for more personality and natural conversations between peers to take place.
Become big fans of the video conference...
...or at least pick up the phone once in a while.
It can become very easy for busy workplaces to rely almost solely on email and the abovementioned communication tools to conduct day to day activities. However, when it comes to keeping remote workers engaged with the process and connected to their colleagues, face-to-face time or at least voice calls are a great way to stimulate conversation, a feeling of connectedness and grow relationships.
Offer the same experience of appreciation
Not all managers are great at showing appreciation to their teams in the first place. And despite the rising adoption of employee recognition platforms to centralise and supercharge a conversation of recognition within a workforce, many organisations still rely on impromptu thank you's or awards linked to years of service.
For remote workers, this can leave them feeling underappreciated for their efforts and believe that their contributions are going unnoticed. As such, it's critical that all employees are afforded the same experience of appreciation. Whether that's by having access to the same rewards platform or indeed bringing the recognition conversation into a social online setting for which every employee, manager and director can engage with and see all the great things happening within the company in real-time.
Bringing everyone together
Humans are biologically hardwired to be social creatures and need a certain level of personal, face-to-face interaction to build stronger bonds and relationships. The same is true of colleagues in the workplace, whether they're floors apart in a large organisation or countries apart in a distributed team.
As such, and whilst the above measures are great daily practices to ensure continued engagement and involvement, creating quarterly or even just annual company-wide meet-ups are still a great way to bring everyone in from the cold, into one place, to share success stories, future visions and get re-acquainted with the voice at the end of the phone.