Managing a remote team? Here are 4 tips on how to build engagement from a distance

Remote work is here to stay. And managing remote employees can be challenging, especially since your team is likely to have mixed feelings about working from home. For some, working from home feels more productive while others may feel excluded and isolated. Here are our 4 top tips for engaging your remote employees. 

Reinforce your WHY

A clear understanding of the company's vision and purpose are key drivers of  employee engagement. Understanding WHY your company does what it does is important for your employees in order to find purpose in their day to day work. Working actively to reinforce the company’s purpose becomes even more important in a remote setting to drive a sense of meaning. 

Similarly, emphasizing company culture and core values also becomes more important when you’re managing a distributed team. Giving feedback and praise connected with your core values is an effective way to build a sense of belonging. 

Build routines to figure out how your team is feeling

Remote workers miss out on the traditional office banter and socializing that help bring a sense of community and meaning to work. When work becomes less social, it’s easy to feel that all there is to work is, well, work. For many, this leads to more stress and anxiety. 

When you’re not seeing your team face to face every day, it’s important to make sure that you don’t only know what, but also how they are doing. By conducting regular one-on-ones, you can build up trust with your employees and provide opportunities for them to share their thoughts and feelings. You might want to consider doing them more often when your team is working from home. Ask them how the remote situation is working out for them so far to figure out how they are coping (or thriving) in the changed environment. 

Once you ask the question, be sure to listen carefully to the response and briefly restate it back to the employee to ensure that you understood correctly. Let the employee’s concerns (and not your own) be the focus of this conversation.

Set clear and measurable goals

There are many different goal-setting methods that you can use with your team and for yourself. You’re free to choose whichever method works best for you and your team. What’s important is to have a meaningful objective that everyone is working towards. 

Here's how goals support that:

  • Goals help people define where they want to be and envision a path to get there
  • Goals encourage people to think about the meaning of their work and how it ties into the bigger picture
  • Goals create accountability for making progress

In addition, research shows that employees who checked items as complete were significantly more productive and experienced greater enjoyment in their work.

Adapt how you interact with your team

Many employees struggle with reduced access to managerial support and communication when working from home. Often, employees feel that remote managers are out of touch with their needs and fail to be supportive and helpful in getting their work done. If you don’t adjust your methods to the remote environment, this can lead to unnecessary stress and frustration. 

A simple step that can go a long way is to let your employees know the best way and time to reach you (e.g., “I normally have meetings between 9-15 so I have time available late in the day. If I don’t pick up, send me a text.”) 

Working from home comes with new challenges but also new opportunities. By implementing these key steps to build engagement, you can make sure that your team will continue to thrive.

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