How managers can keep remote workers engaged and accountable

Remote work poses a plethora of challenges to managers, and employee engagement is definitely a priority to get right.

A combination of effective tactics and the right tools will keep team members engaged even when they are working remotely, so here are a few suggestions to follow if you are struggling in this area.

Using structured meetings with individual team members

One of the main lessons to learn when managing staff remotely is that meetings are only useful if they are properly structured. This applies not only to full team get-togethers, but also to the one-on-one sessions that you need to hold with individual members.

Even using a simple structure for meetings, both looking back on past performance and looking forward to future challenges and prospects, is better than going in without a plan.

Talking to team members as individuals will dramatically increase engagement, showing them that you are there to support them whether or not they are in the office.

It should also prevent feelings of isolation and irrelevance from creeping in, so make time for this type of catch-up in your working week.

Providing clear targets

If employees have goals to aim for, they will be both more productive and more focused. This goes double in remote work scenarios, where without this kind of framework in place, team members might not be motivated, or even have an understanding of what is expected of them from day to day.

Thus your employee engagement efforts are not just good for individuals, but for the performance of the entire team. Just remember to work together to set targets so that they don’t become a burden.

Allowing flexibility

Working from home is appealing to some employees because it lets them adjust their hours around both their other responsibilities, and according to the rhythms of their bodies.

Some people are better in the mornings than the evenings, or vice versa. And a good manager can enhance engagement and improve job satisfaction if they are willing to accommodate this.

Obviously there will be certain duties that have to be done at a specific time of day, but any kind of flexibility that can be factored in will be appreciated.

Keeping them in the loop

The aforementioned feelings of isolation that remote work can entail will be amplified if employees don’t feel they are part of the broader conversation about the direction the organization is taking.

So as well as giving updates about team-specific progress, targets and achievements, remember to also offer information on the state of play across the entire company.

This gives workers a sense of actually making a contribution to the collective goals of the business, rather than them being a little adrift in their efforts.

Communicating efficiently

A lot of emphasis has been put on the importance of communicating with remote workers so far, and it’s important to temper this with the point that it makes no sense to disrupt the working day with meetings and calls just for the sake of it.

Every interaction should have a purpose, and if there isn’t a good reason to touch base, then it’s better to avoid this or else face employee burnout.

Distractions in a remote work context are already difficult enough to deal with, without workers constantly having to worry about attending virtual meetings which don’t deliver new information or move a project forward in a meaningful way.

Managers need to learn new skills to work with remote team members, and hopefully you now have a few things to think about which will increase engagement without sacrificing project momentum.

Photo by Kristin Wilson