Though remote business communications have been around for centuries, many business communities and companies have yet to shed the preference of an in-house workforce. While it's easy to understand the appeal of being able to quickly communicate within an open-office environment, or set up a quick, face-to-face meeting to collaborate on projects both big and small, forward-thinking businesses are the ones that understand the potential of remote workers and how it can connect their company to an entire world of talent.

Accepting remote work staff is one thing, keeping them engaged and happy can be a different challenge. That being said, remote workers will vary just as much as your in-house team. How productive and successful each remote employee is will depend upon your ability to manage them well and provide them with the support and resources to thrive within your organization and deliver the many benefits of hiring remote workers. In fact, 70% of the variance between an engaged and disengaged employee falls on how that employee is managed.

To keep your team engaged, especially your remote staff, you need to consider ways in which you can regularly communicate with them and foster productivity and growth without leaving employees high and dry or micromanaging their work.

How to communicate with remote employees

If you've ever worked with remote employees before, you'll likely remember that how you communicated with those colleagues really didn't vary from how you collaborate with other team members. We live in a world of instant connectivity and a thousand mediums in which to do so. From Slack to email, your remote team is only a few clicks away.

The greater focus will be remembering to stay regularly in touch with team members who you don't see five days a week and therefore may not interact with on a regular basis. Because you can't always pop over to a remote employee's desk or catch up with them in the kitchen, you'll want to be efficient and clear when communicating with a remote employee. This can be done through:

  • Setting clear goals and expectations
  • Providing regular and unambiguous feedback
  • Celebrating achievements
  • Offering solutions to failures

Creating a culture that supports remote workers

Out of sight, out of mind. This is the biggest detriment to remote employee engagement - the thought that just because someone is not in the office can somehow translate into being less a part of the team. This carelessness can have companies missing out on seriously talented remote candidates from around the world. If you plan to take on remote workers, be sure that you establish these key support pillars for remote employees:

  1. Training/onboarding materials - There is nothing worse than joining a new team and feeling like you have to constantly ask questions to figure everything out. By providing the necessary training materials and general lore for the company, you can ensure your remote employees hit the ground running for a successful and lasting placement within your organization (both culturally and professionally!)
  2. A thorough and organized knowledge base - After the initial onboarding, having a company-wide resource dump, filled with all of the necessary information your employees need to thrive within your team is essential.
  3. Establish touchpoints for a variety of support needs - From the go-to HR person to the main touchpoints on other teams, the longer an employee hangs around, the more inevitable it is that they will collaborate with other facets of your organization than just their initial workload. By creating a clear chain of communication or org chart for your entire company, all of your employees will have a clear understanding of who to go to with their questions. This can save hours of time each week across your company and avoid employee disengagement or isolation.

Rethinking interactions with remote staff

One of the best ways you can regularly stay engaged with your remote team is to have a weekly video call. While some remote employees will prefer a quick email or Slack message, others crave face-to-face interaction. It creates a different level of involvement and connection. Phone and video calls also account for tone and limit the potential for miscommunications or misunderstandings. 93% of working folks agree - video communication improves the connectedness of remote employees.

Equipping your office with reliable HD video conferencing cameras provides the closest thing to an in-person meeting for remote teams. When it comes to valuing your essential team members, no detail is too small to keep them engaged and satisfied.

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