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How to Keep Remote Workers Engaged

Surely, by now, you’ve considered employing team members who work remotely. Or you’ve given team members an option to occasionally work from home.

The benefits of employing remote workers include:

  • Reduced cost of office space and overheadGraphic Showing Answering Messages in the Cellphone
  • Access to talent in other markets, even globally!
  • Reduced carbon footprint if people are not commuting
  • 86% of people surveyed said they prefer to work alone to hit maximum productivity (SurePayroll)
  • 82% of telecommuters reported reduced stress levels (PGI)
  • 80% of workers report higher morale when working from home (PGI)
  • Absenteeism is 69% lower when people work from home (PGI).
  • Companies that allow remote work experience 25% less employee turnover than companies that do not allow remote work. (Owl Labs)

But there’s more to it than simply liberating office workers to work from anywhere. Obligations remain to set them up for success and to maintain employee engagement.

Can You Engage and Retain Workers If You’re Not Offering Remote Options?

Without workplace culture, regular face-to-face interaction, and shared experiences, it’s a little more difficult to engage and manage employees. That’s why some employers haven’t made this transition yet, even for workers who could do their work outside the workplace.

You’ll want to consider these data points, though, before you decide against a remote work option. 

  • 68% of recruiters and 53% of employers say candidates ask for work from home options “somewhat often” to “very often”. In addition, more than half of candidates say remote work is important when they’re considering their job options (MRINetwork)
  • 74% of workers said they would quit their current jobs to work for an organization offering remote-work options (Softchoice)
  • According to a survey by the AARP, 74% of older Americans would want work flexibility and 34% would like to work from home.
  • Worldwide, 79% of knowledge workers report working from home at least occasionally. (PGI). In the U.S., 43% of Americans say they worked remotely at least some of the time in 2018. This is the future of work!

How to Keep Remote Workers Engaged

Once you take the plunge, there are additional considerations:

  • 70% of remote workers feel “left out” (2019 State of the Digital Workspace, Igloo). A breakdown:
    • 57% are missing out on important information
    • 55% get excluded form meetings
    • 43% are unable to access people or groups
    • 39% had difficulties accessing information or documents
    • 33% missed information about process or policy changes
  • 35% of remote workers said their colleagues team up against them (VitalSmarts)
  • 52% of remote workers found their colleagues treat them unfairly (VitalSmarts)
  • 67% of remote workers claim their colleagues don’t support their priorities (VitalSmarts)
  • Idea generation, brainstorming, and innovation are the biggest challenges team experience when the team is not together in one place (Owl Labs)
  • Remote workers report that it is very difficult to unplug after working hours (Buffer)
  • Most companies do not cover work-related expenses like Internet access for telecommuters. (Buffer)

In other words, it requires planning and adjustments to make this arrangement effective. There’s more to it than merely granting permission for a worker to set up a remote at-home office.


Next Steps for Building Higher Levels of Remote Worker Engagement

To keep employees engaged even when they’re not regularly in the workplace, develop communications protocols. Consider using video more often. 87% of remote workers feel MORE connected when video conferencing and technology tools are used (HBR).

Don’t put the full burden on the remote worker(s). Set expectations for team members who are gathered in one place to fully include those who are not there physically. Provide tech support and resources for conference lines, videocasting, document sharing, e-signatures, social networking, etc.

Insist on team unity and bring all team members together occasionally to build that commitment and connection. Engagement is fueled by a sense of belonging. Make sure every team member genuinely feels like part of the team.

Contact PFPS to learn more about consulting and partnering with us today!

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