Enabling for Effectiveness and Engagement of Remote Workers

Remote workers can feel detached/disconnected from the rest of the organization. This impacts their ability to truly engage in the organization and may impact the ability of the organization to retain their talent. In this article, we’ll explore a few best practices for enabling for remote workers to be more effective in accomplishing their work as well as ensuring they are engaged and feel a part of the organization as a whole.

Enabling for remote work takes more than simply saying that employees can work remotely or that you’ll hire virtual employees. It takes a strategy to ensure that the workers are effective and engaged in the organization; that they have what they need to be successful. Let’s look at best practices in two key areas:

Collaboration

The ability to collaborate is necessary for remote workers to feel a part of the group. A collaboration portal enables for a virtual location for remote employees to engage with each other. In the portal, include information about happenings in the organization, updates on projects and tasks, and a place where remote employees can share best practices and trouble shoot problems. There is a number of technology options to enable for collaboration. I tend to use Microsoft SharePoint®.

Let me share how one of my clients uses SharePoint® to enable for collaboration among a global, virtual workforce.

A manager of a customer service department of 20 remote/virtual workers uses SharePoint® to engage with his team by doing the following:

  • Having weekly (Monday morning) discussions with the group to share goals for the week.
  • Sharing documentations, processes and other relevant information about the job.
  • Acknowledging efforts of the team – such as a customer service rep who did a great job with a client.
  • Posting a weekly challenge for the team to collaborate to solve.
  • Having the team take turns sharing a best practice.
  • Providing a forum for team members to post a problem they need to solve.
  • Posting a cartoon, or joke or something else to get the team laughing every Friday morning.

Consider these other ideas to engage and enable for remote/virtual workers to connect and collaborate.

  • Ensure that your intranet site includes a directory of each employee – with their photo, role, department, and something of personal interest about each employee to help build relationships (such as how many pets an employee has, where they like to vacation, etc.)
  • Utilize an e-newsletter to keep employees up to date on what is happening throughout the organization. Ask remote employees to share what’s happening with their projects in the newsletter or to contribute best practices.

Communications and Meetings

While communications happen more easily and with less formality when team members are co-located, it needs to be more structured when the workforce is remote to ensure regular and consistent communications. Certainly, the collaboration portal discussed above enables for communications between remote workers. But in this section, let’s consider a few other ways to enable for communication among and between remote workers and their leader.

Ensure that remote employees receive company communications immediately when co-located employees receive the information. This may be accomplished by streaming all-staff meetings. When emails are sent out with company communications, schedule a time to talk with each remote employee one-on-one or in small groups to answer any questions and share any additional information about the communication. Co-located employees can more easily “pop” into a manager’s office or communicate with each other about the message received. Remote employees can do the same when a manager reaches out to answer questions or share more.

Managers should hold weekly one-on-one and monthly all-team meetings with their remote workers. These should ideally be accomplished using a virtual platform where individuals can see each other and can collaborate via technology. This accomplishes much more than a simple conference call (such as enabling for more engagement.)

On a quarterly basis get all remote/virtual employees together in one location to meet, share ideas, catch up on what’s going on throughout the organization and otherwise socialize with each other and with leadership. This is a great way to keep them connected and engaged in the organization.

Make sure that any holiday parties or other company events always enable for remote workers to participate by reimbursing for their travel and other expenses.

Want more ideas and best practices on how to enable for remote employees to be effective and remain engaged in the organization? Contact Abudi Consulting Group today to have a conversation!

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