5 Surefire Ways to Keep Remote Employees Engaged

Ginger Dhaliwal

Move over, ping-pong tables. Goodbye, beer on tap. The perk that employees actually want — and the one that will attract and retain top talent — is the ability to work remotely.

But a remote team brings unique challenges that your company might not expect. Use this plan of attack to keep your employees engaged no matter where they are working from each day.

1. Provide Access to Productive Workspaces

A messy house… a crying baby… a dimly lit desk… these are just a few of the reasons your remote team may prefer to work outside of their homes.

Check out these worrisome statistics from Steelcase:

  • 50% of workers report that they don’t have pleasing views
  • 40% say they don’t have access to natural light
  • Over 30% say their air quality is bad
  • 37% of workers lose up to 30 minutes a day dealing with physical discomfort

Offering weekly or daily access to coworking spaces can help. This perk will provide your remote team with the ability to work in environments that foster productivity, creativity and collaboration.

2. Make Inclusion a Priority 

Whether you have a fully remote team or a blend of in-house and remote, inclusion can be an issue for some companies.

Here’s how to keep employees feeling connected:

  • If you use Slack, try installing a bot like Donut that randomly pairs coworkers via instant message so they can “meet up” for lunch, coffee or donuts. It’s a fun way to strengthen cross-team connections.
  • Organic interaction doesn’t have to stop with a remote team. Try starting an optional virtual book club (or happy-hour club) where team members meet once a month to connect, chat and get to know each other on a more personal level.
  • Use technology like Skype, Slack or Sococo for unscheduled ‘face time’ for small reasons, not just big companywide meetings. Encourage team members to hop on video during the day (instead of always defaulting to instant messaging) for idle chatter, quick questions and impromptu brainstorming.
  • If you have team members in the same area, provide a monthly stipend for an in-person lunch or after-work drink. This will help nourish coworker connections and friendships.

3. Laugh at Life’s Interruptions

Interruptions are inevitable with a remote team. Whether it’s a team member’s cat showing up in video meetings or UPS ringing the doorbell, laughter is indeed the best medicine.

A little humor and understanding in these situations will relieve tension, reduce stress and create a positive company culture. (Plus, a video-bombing cat is a great opportunity for a viral social-media post if you ask us!)

4. Acknowledge Contributions

Out of sight, out of mind. This is not the expression you want your company to embody when it comes to acknowledging contributions.

Here’s how to fix that:

  • Recognize achievements, both large and small, by announcing them in company-wide meetings and/or in company chat.
  • Try an employee-recognition tool, like Bonusly, that promotes organic interaction. With Bonusly, team members can celebrate contributions by awarding each other points and writing personalized messages that the whole company can read and comment on.

5. Document Everything 

Verbal communication doesn’t always work as intended with a remote team.

Whether it’s from technology mishaps (like a bad connection or the dreaded black screen of death), background noise (dogs barking or loud coffee shops), or standard issues (talking too soft or talking over each other), things can be missed or misinterpreted in meetings and phone calls.

But that’s why it’s essential everything is documented, from meeting notes to feedback on marketing strategies or designs. Writing everything down will keep misunderstandings to a minimum and allow team members to refer back to documents on their own time.

Keep all documents and assets in one central location so all team members — no matter their time zone or schedule — can access them on demand. As GitPrime says, “This clarity [from documentation] is all the more critical with the asynchronous nature of remote work, where issues can take more time to address.”

Remote employees can be just as engaged and productive as in-office teams — if not more. Give your team the support and tools they need to be successful and they’ll reward you with outstanding performance and long-term loyalty.