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Today’s workforce is increasingly more mobile. 47% of Canadians now spend at least half their week working remotely. And 40% of people work on teams where part of the team is remote, and the other works out of the same office.

With remote work continuing to expand, HR departments are facing an interesting dilemma—the best way to help managers keep their remote employees engaged and satisfied.

Many managers treat remote employees the same as their in-office counterparts—a tactic that fails to recognize that remote workers face some unique challenges.

The distinctive role HR plays in developing company culture makes it the perfect team to create a strategy focused on engaging remote workers.

Below are a few tips HR can use when building an engagement strategy specifically geared toward engaging remote workers.

1.    Set Clear Goals

Goals give employees something to work toward. While, large, expansive goals are important, weekly or bi-weekly goals for remote workers can help keep them focused.

Goals set expectations. They tell an employee what work must be delivered and when. When these expectations are clearly outlined and agreed upon, remote employees feel secure and confident in their roles.

Coupling clearly defined goals with weekly (or bi-weekly) one-on-one meetings helps managers and remote workers develop a healthy, trusting relationship, built on communication. 

2.    Help with Time Management

Remote workers can experience issues with time management and scheduling. And who could blame them? When you consider all the creature comforts being at home offers (TV, the washing machine—your fridge) ensuring remote workers can focus on their work is the best way management can help them hit their goals. 

To help remote workers with time management:

  • Use collaborative project management tools such as Trello or Asana. These tools, which are accessible on any mobile device are great for document sharing, project organization and communication.
  • Encourage to-do lists—lists make it easy to determine which tasks are most important, will take the most time, and those that can be done quickly. They also help employees keep track of their work.
  • Provide online calendars—they’re accessible from any mobile device, it’s easy to schedule meetings and you can set reminders for specific tasks, down to the hour.     

3.    Provide the Necessary Hardware

When you start a new job in an office one of the first things you’ll receive is your workspace, consisting of a computer (desktop or laptop), monitor(s), a phone (desk or mobile, maybe both), headphones, pad of paper and undoubtedly a branded pen.

Remote workers should receive the same set-up.

Ensure remote workers are set up with a robust, modern workspace equipped with all the necessary accessories.

4.    Use Team Chat Apps

55% of remote workers say they have been excluded from important meetings and team brainstorm sessions due to their remote location.

As an HR professional you know the importance of company culture, and that it’s best facilitated through communication. Incorporating a tool such as Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts or Cisco WebEx Teams helps simplify communication between team members.

Chat apps make it easy to connect with your team—regardless of location. They cut out the delayed response time of email communication and the pain of scheduling phone calls or video meetings.

The best chat apps offer the ability to organize topics and add and remove users, and are easy to access on any mobile device.

5.    Create a Digital Break Room

Sharing company culture with remote workers is a major challenge managers face.

Company culture plays a significant role in workplace happiness. Stress, lack of motivation and a disconnect with their job can lead to employee absenteeism.

HR departments can help managers overcome this challenge by creating a digital break room.

A digital break room provides a space employees can use to interact, share photos, updates and other non-work-related content.

Creating this kind of space encourages employees to get to know each other, regardless of distance.

6.    Video Conferencing

For remote workers, multitasking during meetings is easy—no one can see what they’re doing!

Encouraging remote staff to join conferences on camera keeps your out-of-office staff engaged during team meetings.

Video conferencing stimulates staff participation and builds trust.

7.    Recognize Good Work

Company-wide visibility is important to employees. Being recognized for outstanding work, and having that recognition shared with their peers is the kind of positive feedback that keeps employees dedicated.

Remote workers are often not recognized as much as in-office peers. Make it a point to recognize remote workers by sharing their successes on company-wide channels.

Engaging Remote Workers Strengthens Company Culture

Engaged employees are happy employees. Developing an engagement strategy focused on the unique challenges remote workers face will set your company apart.

As the role of HR professionals continues to evolve, HR leaders should develop an engagement strategy for remote workers that supports company culture while simultaneously meeting the challenges unique to remote work.

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Kaneez Jaffer

Kaneez Jaffer

Kaneez is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) with an advanced knowledge of human resources and organizational structure and design. She has extensive experience with HRIS systems and understands the need to move HR from a transactional model to a transformational one. She has worked in the investment banking, insurance, and legal industries, as well as with large not-for-profit centres helping to simplify and streamline their internal systems. Kaneez is an expert in building relationships and affecting change in a positive and productive way. She acts as the key HR business partner at Apri Insurance Services Inc, managing the implementation of JungoHR, while providing expert advice and counsel on a range of HR matters. Kaneez holds a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management as well as a Certificate in HR Law for HR Professionals from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada.