Top Tips On How To Keep People Engaged While Working Remotely

Tips On How To Keep People Engaged While Working Remotely

Working effectively when everyone is in a different location requires adapting your business processes. But it is surprisingly easy and affordable for even the smallest company to accomplish. Here are some tips on how to keep your people engaged while working remotely.

Create a Digital Workspace

When people are not in an office environment, it can feel like working in a vacuum. To counter this, you need a digital workspace — i.e., a cloud software system — that gives people a place to “go” to or log into each day. It enables people to communicate, share what they are doing and see what coworkers are doing. It doesn’t matter physically where the person is because their work is accessed over the Internet.

This is more than your email system. At a minimum, a digital workspace includes shared document storage, screen sharing, real time text chat, and video/audio communications.This ensures everyone using the same collaboration platform so that you can keep people engaged while working remotely.

Subsidize Remote Work Technology

Bring your own device to work (BYOD) is a popular trend today. Workers wanted to use their own devices such as laptops, tablets and phones even when they worked exclusively in an office. However,  when working at home, simple little things can get in the way of productivity. For example, you may find yourself waiting for the same person in meetings because his Internet connection is so slow. Other times, it may be a case of another employee always trying to troubleshoot a laptop that is crashing due to insufficient memory. So, if you experience this, then it may be less expensive to fix the employee’s IT. Contribute toward upgrading WiFi or buying the worker a new laptop. You can always factor this into your budgeting.

Use Off the Shelf Tech for Business Systems

Homegrown software technology can be a maintenance and security nightmare even in a single location. The risks are definitely multiplied when people work remotely. So, it is best to leave as many of the security headaches as possible to software vendors. Go for cloud-based software for systems such as accounting, CRM, HR and shared documents. Pick strong vendors that highlight their built-in security measures and that stand behind their products. Large well-known names are ideal, because they have the resources to keep your data secure and to maintain the software.

Mimic Water Cooler Interactions

People sometimes resign because they lose any personal connection they felt with their work situation. Frequent chats and conference calls provide the personal interactions to develop a strong working relationship and a sense of belonging. Emphasize daily quick text chats. Chats form the glue that connects people together.

Be sure to have video conferences regularly. Not every meeting needs to be video, but it really helps to see coworkers’ faces from time to time. At the beginning of remote meetings, be sure to allow a few minutes for water cooler talk. Ask people to share a picture of something fun they did over the weekend, or update everyone on the home improvement project they are working on. Small daily interactions keep people feeling like they are part of something bigger and that they are needed and valued.

 Set Personal and Work Boundaries

Just because someone is working from home doesn’t give license to contact that person at all hours of the day or night. Set established work hours and don’t expect people to be available outside of those hours. And while employees want some flexibility in their schedules, commitment is a two-way street. Employees should keep track of comp time, and extend their schedules if needed to make up for time missed during the day. They should officially take a vacation day — not just disappear for the day. This kind of structure keeps business processes flowing smoothly. It allows managers to allocate resources and adjust workflow to meet customer demands.

Healthy Bodies Make Productive Workers

Last but not least, emphasize physical fitness. It is too easy to fall into a rut where remote workers walk 20 steps to a computer and sit there all day without moving. So, you can set a group challenge to walk 10,000 steps a day, using a step counter. Or have everyone stand during a meeting and take a one minute stretch break and walk around the room.

Also, encourage work at home employees to get ergonomic equipment. This might include standing desks with adjustable height. Ergonomic keyboards and proper mouse pads and good mice help avoid wrist pain. A good chair and surface such as a laptop stand is essential. A second monitor can also make people more productive, because they don’t have to scroll and open/close tabs and programs nearly as much.

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