Why Keep Remote Teams Engaged?
The percent of employees working remotely continues to increase. Keeping any team engaged and connected to enhance their performance and loyalty can be a challenge, but recent research by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield confirms what most leaders already know – remote workers feel left out and ganged up on and find it more challenging to get work done through others.
It stands to reason that the stronger the relationships on your team, the more they care about doing their job well. Loyalty toward coworkers and camaraderie with colleagues play a significant role in building employee engagement. And the data show that engaged workers are over 40% more productive and effective than their unengaged counterparts.
Why keep your remote teams engaged? That’s why.
In-house vs. Remote Teams
Sure, it’s relatively easy to establish relationships with team mates when you see them regularly around the office. The challenge of keeping your remote teams engaged and connected, however, grows as the geographical distance increases. But it doesn’t have to; there are solutions.
Whether an employee feels valued is highly correlated with their engagement with their job and the team. And we know that recognition for a job well done can effectively improve employee productivity and engagement. The trick is to find ways to extend your appreciation for extraordinary effort and results to your offsite staff.
Tips on How to Keep Your Remote Team Connected
- Know that
Time Matters More than Words
Thanks and praise work well with in-house teams. But researchers have learned that most remote teams value your time over simple words. Rather than glossing over their contribution with words that fade in value, invest more time in getting to know offsite employees.
If you focus only on their work product and don’t try to build a more personal relationship, they are likely to feel that you value them only for business results and not for who they really are. Ideally you would also schedule consistent times (once a week, month, quarter, or year depending upon what makes sense) where remote workers spend time together with the team and with you in person. If in-person meetings just do not make sense, use video conferencing to create deeper connections.
Don’t add to the remote team’s feeling of isolation by focusing all your attention on those in the room when you are in a virtual meeting. Reach out and include remote employees as you gather input and make decisions. And by all means be considerate as you schedule meetings across time zones to make them as convenient as possible for the distant team members.
As a manager, your open door policy should include remote workers regardless of time zone. To build trust and to support the team’s success, make yourself available no matter when or where your employees work.
- Time for
You don’t want to turn your meetings into a chat-fest when there is so much to be accomplished. However, when you set the agenda, why not include 5-10 minutes for personal or professional good news? This can include anything from the birth of a new baby to having a hole-in-one.
You’ll be surprised at how many team members find common interests and hobbies across the miles and how those commonalities enhance the strength of the team.
The Bottom Line
Infrequent contact with team members makes it difficult to build the clarity, trust, and common purpose required for teams to perform at their peak. With more and more teams operating on a virtual basis, leaders need to find ways to keep them consistently connected. Do you have a plan to keep remote teams engaged?
To learn more about how to keep remote teams engaged, download 10 Simple Tips to Overcome the Top Virtual Team Challenges