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Engaging Remote Workers in Your Office Culture

leadership transition Feb 22, 2023

- By Sophie Pinkoski

Many organizations have begun bringing their teams back into the office at least part time now that we have a better understanding of covid health risks. With the preference of many for a hybrid work model, the return to office can often leave remote workers feeling excluded. Half of American workers, remote or otherwise, consider themselves neither engaged nor disengaged, but 84% say they would be happier working remotely. Yet with remote workers more likely to become isolated, it’s important to put the time, energy, and resources into tipping the scales to keep them fully engaged. Remote work is an option for those that prefer a working model flexible to their lifestyle and is therefore unlikely to go away anytime soon. Reworking your organization’s culture to include remote workers is key to maintaining their engagement. 

 So, what can be done to support your remote workers? 

Check in – In the hectic day to day of leading an organization, it’s easy to lose sight of your remote workers. “Sometimes we forget that we have colleagues who are not physically present,” says CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Johnny C. Taylor. “Managers and employees need to be very intentional about including their peers who aren’t there in the office culture.” For this reason, it’s worthwhile to communicate with them more than you think you should.

Over-communicating is better than unintentionally leaving them in the dark on the latest developments.

Regular check-ins should assess their progress without micromanaging them. Everyone works differently and those who choose to work remotely have likely discovered they are more productive away from the office. Trust that they are capable of getting work done in their preferred environment and maintain open communication to keep one another updated.

Keep them connected – One of the biggest things you can do to ensure your remote workers’ success is setting them up with both the software and hardware needed to connect with their team virtually. Since the beginning of the pandemic, remote workers have lost regular human connection they used to receive from in-office interactions. In fact, Harvard Business Review reports that 75% of workers feel more isolated since shifting to remote, and later, hybrid models. Investing in the technology to help foster an online network makes a huge difference. Keep remote workers up to date as things happen by using a chat function or including them in video calls during impromptu brainstorming meetings.

They want to actively participate in decision-making processes, rather than being filled in after the fact. Be proactive to hear and appreciate their input.

Recognize their contributions – More than anything, remote workers want to know that their contributions are valued by you and your team. Remote work can often feel like screaming into the void if remote workers don’t receive responses to their work.

Acknowledge when you’ve received their updates and let them know when they’ve done good work.

According to Gallup, workers are four times more likely to feel engaged and five times more connected to their organization’s culture when their work is recognized. Celebrating their wins reminds them that their contributions are meaningful and that they are an invaluable member of the team. 

Offer consistent feedback – Take time to offer regular feedback to your remote workers so they understand where they can improve.

Many people appreciate being challenged at work. It prevents them from stagnating and gives them the tools and opportunities to work toward personal and professional development.

According to a data study by Owl Labs, 92% of workers actively seek out organizations who offer development opportunities. They want to build their skill-set and apply their talents to projects in fresh, new ways they may not have considered before. Being able to learn and grow within their role will ultimately make their work that much more fulfilling.

Overall, everyone on your team wants to be validated in the work that they do. It’s important to keep adapting to changing circumstances as the pandemic remains ongoing. What works for your team now may not be as effective in a few months' time. In that time, keep your remote workers front of mind and be open to accommodating to their needs as the situation shifts.


Further Reading:

What You Need to Know for Post-Pandemic Remote Team Strategy, Brightful

96% of Bosses Say They Give In-Office Employees More Recognition- How to Combat ‘Proximity Bias’, CNBC

Engaging a Remote Workforce in the Post-Pandemic World, Nasdaq

How to Engage Remote Employees: 10 Actionable Tips and Tools for Hybrid Workplaces, workhuman

How to Keep Remote Employees Engaged, Qualtrics

Canadians Concerned About Post-Pandemic Proximity Bias, ADP

Remote Employee Engagement- The Manager’s Guide 2022, People Box

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