Three Strategies to Keep Remote Workers Engaged

Has your team recently moved to working virtually? Could you use help ensuring they are engaged?

Per Gallup, the first half of April finds that 62% of U.S. workers have worked from home because of concern about the coronavirus.

Of those new to working virtually, a new survey from Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) says that more than 7 out of 10 employers, or 71 percent, reported that they are struggling to adapt to remote work.

Remote work is not new, even though many companies are leveraging it for the first time due to the pandemic.

Gallup provides three strategies summarized below known to work with virtual teams.

  1. Communication yields engagement. Scholars and practitioners have been telling remote managers the same thing since employees went remote in early March: communicate. It's good advice, but it's missing an important piece: frequency. Gallup research finds that frequent conversations yield the biggest improvements in engagement. And remote workers are three times more likely to be engaged if they receive feedback from their manager at least a few times per month. So, communicate -- ask what their preference is. Don't make it a guessing game, make it a conversation.

  2. Accountability comes from expectations. Remote or not, employees can only be accountable for what's expected of them. And to hold remote workers accountable, managers must provide clear and collaborative expectations -- but 26% of employees strongly agree their manager is good at helping them clarify priorities, and six in 10 employees know what is expected of them at work.

  3. Individualize to optimize. Managers should identify the conditions that allow individual people to do what they do best to set them up to succeed at home. That could mean a daily team video conference so socially motivated workers can see the rest of the team as they work. Or managers can set up an opt-in reminder system: "It's 8 a.m. and time to do great things!" and, "10 a.m. and time for a break," And, "It's 4 p.m. -- what's left on your to-do list?" Some employees don't need or want that level of attention -- they'll find it intrusive -- but others do. As a manager you need to study your team, ask what they need and provide individual support to optimize performance.

At APICS Milwaukee we’ve been supporting supply chain professionals for over 40 years with the education and information they need to be successful in ever changing times. We will continue to support our members and the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you found these insights useful on managing remote teams, consider signing up for our new VIRTUAL Workshop next week Tuesday (5/5), Employee Engagement Tactics for Remote Workers. Participants will learn strategies and skills that managers can use to foster greater engagement among their employees who, perhaps for the first time, are working remotely. Teri Giannetti, MBA, has extensive experience leading teams and working remotely. As the Founder of "It's All About the How Consulting," she will share practical insights on how you can manage and lead remote workers during this unique moment in time.