Remote work also referred to as working from home, telecommuting, or working virtually, has been on the rise in the past few years. It has seen a sharp increase in the past few months. In 2018, Upwork found that 63% of companies have remote workers. Having a remote team offers many benefits to companies. These include access to a broad range of talent, accelerating the employee growth curve and business bottom line, and creating a desirable work experience for their employees.
But in order to successfully implement remote work, organizations need to encourage communication and collaboration among employees. Technology can bridge the gap between remote workers and those working in a physical office setting. When using technology, leadership can connect with remote teams and keep them engaged, which helps individuals succeed and stay with the company longer.
There are a wide variety of technology services available to companies that assist with remote team engagement. It doesn’t matter if the business is a nonprofit or an international organization, there are accessible and helpful tools available for each type of company. Here are just a few of the many options that can be implemented today.
One of the basics of good employee engagement is communication. Just like a traditional office setting, remote employees need to have face-to-face conversations with their teammates and chats with individuals in leadership positions. Most laptops and computers now come with built-in cameras, so companies can seamlessly perform video conference conversations with employees.
Video conferencing solutions like Zoom are widely used by businesses and individuals. Video chats can help reduce the feeling of isolation that some remote team members may feel. It also allows others to pick up nonverbal cues that are an integral part of important conversations. Screen sharing capabilities can also assist with clarifying questions and showing how to perform a task.
Chat software allows for seamless communication throughout the workday between colleagues, between remote teams and their leadership, and from one department to another. Within chat apps such as Slack, different channels help with brainstorming ideas or discussing different business goals within various teams, remote or in the office. File-sharing can also happen via a chat software, which is helpful for keeping everyone on the same page about a project or to quickly deliver information for immediate use.
Teams still need to work simultaneously on projects despite not being in the same building. Cloud-based software solutions allow team members to edit the same document at one time no matter where they are located. Other tools like Google Drive let employees request approvals or proofread files in real-time. This feature is helpful for team collaboration and communication too.
In addition to project files, leadership needs to maintain workflows and complete project deadlines with remote teams. Assigning tasks and updating project progress is possible with tools like Trello. Remote teams only need to log on to these digital dashboards to see the latest updates or notifications regarding the projects they are assigned to. These tools help remote workers stay on task, and can help leadership see what individuals are working on each day. Overall, these tools assist with keeping everyone in sync and on track to meet project deadlines.
Other cloud-based tools, like human capital management platforms, help manage not only individual employees but assist with shuffling remote employees around for proper resource allocation. For example, one employee may have a better skill set for a specific task than another, which the HCM software can help leadership identify. This feature allows managers to place the best employee for the job on each project.
Work should have a little bit of fun within it, in addition to meeting deadlines and delivering high-quality results. Strong company culture can help with making remote employees feel like they are part of the team. Businesses with a strong culture are more likely to retain employees.
One method leadership can use to promote a positive work culture is recognition. By providing acknowledgment of a team member’s work, managers can increase an employee’s motivation and productivity. Digital shout-outs of great work during video conferencing can help build a positive vibe within a remote team.
Some companies have started to turn recognition into a game for remote teams. Games can break up the workday or provide friendly competition between team members. Tools like Bucketlist assist with making recognition fun. Managers and department leadership can award individuals points and badges for performance. Within the program colleagues can shout-out team member’s accomplishments. A few institutions even use gift cards as an incentive goal which is easy to send to remote employees.
As remote work continues to become a more common option for companies, leadership needs to be conscious of keeping team members engaged. The use of technology is vital for connecting with individuals. From chat tools to recognition software, there are a variety of ways to engage remote employees.