How to Engage the Remote Workforce

Remote work is here to stay and it’s going to continue to grow.

In mid-December 2019, HR Exchange Network editor Mason Stevenson wrote about remote work statistics every HR professional should know.  One of the data points included was from Buffer’s State of Remote Work report which indicated 99 percent of people surveyed wants to work from home.  Additionally, Stevenson wrote:

“Keeping up the trend, Upwork’s “Future Workforce Report” predicts, by 2028, 73 percent of all teams will have remote workers.  Additionally, 75% of those employees already working remotely plan to continue the practice for the rest of their respective careers!” 

Not only do HR professionals and their companies have to get used to the idea remote work is quickly becoming standard operating procedure, but they have to find a way to boost engagement with these workers and continue to integrate them into the company culture.

Why Does It Matter?

In some ways, it’s easy for human resources to develop this idea remote workers don’t need engagement.  That’s a harsh statement, but it’s true.  Remote workers tend to be very productive.  Most statistics back up this claim.  Additionally, great remote workers are also:

  • Self-Disciplined
  • Adaptable
  • Flexible
  • Strong communicators
  • Independent
  • Confident
  • Reliable

While all of this is true, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to feel like they belong to a company and that they are important components, not only as employees, but also members of the company culture and community.  Remote workers, just like on-site workers, are susceptible to certain trends such as leaving the organization within the first year and leaving to pursue career advancement opportunities.

Ways to Engage Remote Workers

All of that said, the way to avoid losing these workers is to engage them.  After reading numerous articles on the topic, here are some of the best ways engage those workers.

  1. Personalized Relationships – This is something remote workers can’t do as easily as those working in an office. While they can communicate via email, office messaging services and video chatting, they still aren’t in the physical presence of their co-workers.  That means management and leaders must prioritize building these relationships.  Sometimes that includes team meetings where all remote workers join via a video chat service or conference phone call.
  2. Remember the Employee – ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is often a statement connected to remote workers. Leaders don’t see them daily, so it’s easy to forget they have employees working equally as hard from their respective homes as they do sitting in the office.  It’s important to make regular contact with remote workers to keep them in the loop and to understand their challenges which are sometimes unique to their particular type of employment.
  3. Over communicate – This is critical to the remote worker. Having the ability to communicate effectively and easily goes a long way in engaging these workers.  If leaders or co-workers take a long time to respond to emails, messages or phone calls, the remote worker will feel isolated and alone.  Leaders and co-workers must be extra vigilant in communicating.
  4. Training – Training is just as important as communication. Sometimes this means assigning the remote worker training.  Sometimes, it’s assigning a coach or mentor to the remote worker.  Providing this type of develop translates to engaged workers and the retention of those employees.
  5. P.R.O.P.S. – P.R.O.P.S. stands for Peer Recognition of Peer Success. It’s important to recognize the success stories created by remote employees.  This indicates to the employee they are valued by the company and an important part of the overall community and culture.

The View from a Remote Worker

Jenn Koiter is a recruitment marketing regional lead, talent attraction and employer brand for Dell.  She is a remote worker and she loves having opportunities to work from some of America’s most well-known cities.  And while she loves it, she is also acutely aware it is difficult to “stay connected, both personally and professionally.”  In fact, she says she often has to be intentional about engaging with other team members be they at Dell’s headquarters or other remote locations.

“I know I’m not alone in that. Even when I worked remotely while living in Austin, I struggled to feel connected at work. It might be more overt for a nomad, but as remote work becomes more and more prevalent, I’m not the only one trying to strike a balance between freedom and connectedness.”

Koiter points out it’s not just the company’s responsibility to engage with remote workers.  Remote employees must also engage with the company.  To read her five tips that help keep herself and other remote employees engaged, click here.

In summation

Remote work is a fantastic advancement in the future of work.  While it doesn’t work in all industries, it is a great way to provide what the current workforce is looking for in terms of flexibility and work-life balance.  As companies continue to move toward creating more remote workers and growing that particular workforce, it’s important for HR to lead the way in making sure these employees are considered in all strategies created to build company success.

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Photo courtesy:  Pexels

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Written by HR Today

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