- Why do remote employees disengage?
- Is the answer a return to the office?
- The best solution for engaging remote employees
Q: What causes remote workers to disengage? What can I do to fix this?
A: Remote workers begin to disengage as they lose interest in their work. Sometimes this is due to burnout, and sometimes this is due to a need for more connection. Regardless of the cause, you can engage your employees with an open line of communication, clear and concise deadlines, and collaborative management.
In case the past two years weren’t evidence enough, remote work is here to stay.
Demand for office space is lower than before the pandemic, turnover rates are skyrocketing, and inflation concerns are keeping everyone in a general state of panic.
Businesses are beginning to realize that if they want to keep their employees and reduce turnover, they need to keep them happy. Keeping employees happy in our modern labor market often means allowing these employees to work from home.
According to a recent poll, about 56% of full-time American employees think their jobs can be done with remote workers. About eight in ten of these individuals are already working remotely in some capacity.
Despite this massive shift to remote work, businesses are beginning to realize that engaging remote employee is much different than engaging traditional office workers.
Part of the struggle of engaging remote employees is the constantly shifting cultural landscape. For example, engaging remote employees during covid required different skills than engaging remote teams now.
Nevertheless, the ability to engage remote employees, regardless of exterior situations, is a highly sought-after skill that will benefit you in all your business’s operations.
In this article, we’ve looked at why remote employees disengage, whether a return to the office is the answer, looked at tips for engaging remote employees, and examined the relationship between remote teams and collaboration.
Keep reading to see how you can improve at engaging remote employees!
- Why do remote employees disengage?
- Is the answer a return to the office?
- The best solution for engaging remote employees
- Remote teams and collaboration
Why do remote employees disengage?
Many businesses have noticed their remote employees are slowly losing their enthusiasm for their work.
There are several reasons for this, and below we’ve taken a closer look at some of them.
- Lack of connection
- Poor communication
- General confusion about expectations
Per the Mayo Clinic, burnout, while not technically a medical condition, is a specific kind of work-related stress. Typically, symptoms include a lowered sense of accomplishment, a general lack of purpose, and a loss of identity.
While burnout can happen in any kind of work, remote employees often experience burnout.
Working from home can create a sense of always being “on the clock”. As a result, remote employees might end up working more hours than necessary, developing chronic stress that ultimately results in poor performance.
Lack of connection
Many remote employees don’t feel connected to the companies they’re working for.
They end up working in isolation, wondering if what they’re doing even matters. This disconnection prevents your employees from building relationships with their peers and makes even the most open lines of communication completely obsolete.
A lack of connection can result in detachment from their work. When detached, engaging remote employees is markedly more difficult.
Poor communication is an issue for even the most senior employees, but it’s particularly catastrophic for new hires.
Many remote employees struggle to handle things entirely on their own. They don’t have someone immediately available to ask for help, resulting in a lot of time wasted figuring out day-to-day tasks.
General confusion about expectations
Finally, a lack of clear expectations makes it easy for remote teams to disengage.
When your employees know precisely what is expected of them, they’re less likely to complete tasks on time. It’s also much more difficult to motivate employees when they’re unsure of when they need to have tasks completed.
Regardless of why your employees disengage, you need to understand how you can begin engaging remote employees. The solution is simpler than you think.
Is the solution a return to the office?
While all this might seem to point toward returning to the office, the reality is that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, there are specific situations where using a physical workspace is necessary. However, with the countless digital tools you have at your disposal, securing a professional meeting room for these events is incredibly simple and beneficial.
So, while physical workspace is important (and can be provided with a Virtual Office and other virtual solutions), returning to the office will typically result in the following issues:
- Unhappy employees
- Extreme loss of flexibility
- More difficult to scale
- Loss of market share
Employees are increasingly seeking remote and flexible work options. Switching to an office setting will likely drive away key employees, leaving vacancies that will be hard to fill.
If you don’t believe it, this recent Gallup study shows that a staggering 90% of employees who can work remotely won’t return to the office full-time.
Returning to the office to solve your issues with engaging remote employees is similar to eating an apple to solve a toothache. Not only is it unrelated to the task at hand, but it’ll likely do more harm than if you hadn’t eaten the apple at all.
Extreme loss of flexibility
Remember, if you want a physical workspace for specific situations, Alliance Virtual Offices has countless virtual tools for established entrepreneurs looking to better connect with their remote workers.
Additionally, sacrificing your remote operations will cost you massive amounts of time, money, and flexibility. This makes it harder for you to grow your business. You’re operating at the pinnacle of flexibility with remote workers and remotely driven revenue.
In conjunction with one of our Virtual Offices, Alliance provides several other digital tools for business owners struggling to engage remote employees.
Check out our website for more information about these tools!
Read more: Going Remote? Don’t Ignore These Crucial Work From Home Tools
When you switch to an office, this flexibility is replaced with an incredibly expensive, centralized hub that requires thousands of dollars in upkeep each month.
More difficult to scale
Needless to say, scalability is essential.
If your business can’t grow, you stagnate. Once you stagnate, you stop pushing yourself and finding new ways to improve your operations. Once you’re resting on your laurels like this, your business is one bad market downturn away from shutting its doors.
Remote work allows you to quickly corner new markets, test marketing strategies on niche consumers, and reinvest the money that would be spent on traditional expenses back into your business.
Loss of market share
A local small business’s market is incredibly limited compared to any virtual business’s offerings. When you return to the market, you reduce your market share considerably.
Sure, you can try hybrid operations to retain some of that market share, but keeping your remote operations up to snuff while organizing the logistics of a traditional office lease isn’t going to be easy. Plus, the money you spend while doing so would go much further if reinvested in your business.
While engaging remote employees might be difficult, a return to the office will likely lose those same employees you’re hoping to engage. Meanwhile, you’re eliminating countless opportunities provided by virtual business operations.
With one of our Virtual Offices, you can retain all the benefits associated with returning to the office without paying for a traditional office lease. Not only do they provide access to a private and professional workspace, but you can easily reserve a meeting room for any events you’d like to host.
Rather than returning to older business styles, it would be best if you learned some fun ideas for engaging remote employees.
Keep reading for some of these actionable ideas!
The secret to engaging your remote employees
The real solution for engaging your remote employees is to double down on supporting them.
The more supported your team feels, the happier they are. The happier they are, the less you have to worry about engaging remote employees.
According to Forbes, a happy team is “…more energized, more creative, and get(s) more work done”. Similarly, this study by the University of Oxford shows that happy workers are 13% more productive than their dissatisfied counterparts.
Understanding that you need to connect with your employees to properly engage with them is great, but implementing these concepts is a bit more complicated.
Adding structures to your business that support your employees emotionally and in their workflow will solve many of your remote workers’ engagement problems. What’s more, these solutions will likely make your employees more engaged and productive than ever.
Below, we’ve listed an actionable guide to engaging remote employees and some activities for remote employees to participate in.
- Communication platforms
- Fair and reasonable expectations
- Express appreciation
- Ask for and give feedback
The first step is ensuring you have solid and easy-to-use communication platforms. Doing so makes it easier for you to check in on employees when needed and ensure they have the help they need.
Platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams are good platforms that provide easy ways to connect with your employees.
During working hours, your employees should have direct contact with whom they can ask any questions or voice concerns.
When you allow employees to connect with other team members, they feel, expectedly, like part of the team.
A bonus of utilizing a solid communication platform is that your employees will have immediate direction. They’ll have less tedious, frustrating tasks that they have to handle alone, allowing them to engage with the work they truly enjoy.
Fair and reasonable expectations
It’s paramount to set fair and reasonable expectations.
When employees know exactly what they need to do, they feel like they’re actively contributing to something. Additionally, with these expectations, you can reduce burnout by keeping your employees on a fairly reasonable schedule.
This doesn’t mean you need to prevent your employees from working a bit extra, but you should make it clear to them that they shouldn’t be working late into the evening.
There’s little reason to be working at 3:00 am, and doing so will leave your employees getting that ever-present “on-the-clock” feeling.
Supporting a healthy work-life balance will keep your employees from dipping into burnout, boost their well-being, and make them more productive.
Next, find ways to express your appreciation and offer positive feedback to your team.
This doesn’t have to be trite aphorisms in every email or a personal phone call every week, but small gestures to remind your employees that you recognize them go a long way.
Instead, this can take the form of small monthly challenges, awards, bonuses, or simple messages of appreciation. This reminds your employees that they matter to the business, building a sense of loyalty that will keep them bringing their best.
While specific financial incentives are fantastic, people are usually happy with a simple pat on the back. For many employees, recognition is enough to motivate them out of disengagement.
Ask for and give feedback
The ability to give and receive feedback without taking it personally will create an environment in which your remote teams can thrive.
With the aforementioned communication platforms, you can let your employees know they’re welcome to drop suggestions or feedback about your practices. You can also ask your employees for specific feedback at regular intervals to help guarantee results.
Once you’ve received feedback, it’s important that you’re willing to make changes. Sure, not every piece of feedback you receive is going to require change.
Still, the willingness to make changes and accept when you’ve found a better way is paramount to your success in business and general happiness.
Receiving feedback and taking constructive criticism is invaluable, but giving your employees feedback is equally important.
Checking in with your employees periodically and giving them pointers on things they can improve. Complimenting the things they’re doing well does wonder for any remote team’s morale.
These small check-ins create an environment that allows each of your employees to feel seen and valued, making them far more likely to stay engaged.
Keep in mind, it isn’t easy to practice engaging remote employees when your business isn’t operating at its highest capacity.
This is why it’s so important to keep your company operating at a high level. First, when you aren’t operating at a high level, you’re giving your employees far more opportunities to fall into burnout and disengagement.
Second, when you practice optimization and cut costs in all the areas you can, you’re left with more money to reinvest into your business’s daily operations and quality-of-life improvements for your remote teams.
Read more: When to Spend, When to Save: Your Complete Guide to Business Optimization
The secret to engaging remote employees is as simple as treating these employees like humans and acknowledging the ways that they help your business.
Remote teams and collaboration
Remote employees often disengage due to burnout and lack of connection to their work.
The answer isn’t to return to the office but to encourage a healthy work-life balance and help your team members remember that they matter.
Recently, we’ve seen a massive surge in the number of online businesses popping up. Many new online businesses won’t last because they’re unwilling to adopt constantly evolving modern practices.
One of these practices changing from more authoritarian to collaborative management.
In the past, employees had one point of contact for any of their concerns and deadlines.
Within these authoritarian management styles, this point of contact made all the decisions and delegated all the work. In many cases, this veneration of a single individual led to toxic work environments and other workplace woes.
We’ve seen an increase in a less pointed, decentralized management style. This collaborative management is worlds different from its authoritarian predecessor.
Collaboration means that each of your employees has a voice.
Historically, employees weren’t incentivized to create or innovate. This dampening of individualism resulted in workplaces focusing more on the status quo than growing the business.
Collaborative management turns this concept on its head. In essence, collaboration is decentralization.
A collaborative management team focuses on providing numerous points of contact for employees, spreads the decision-making burden across the team, and incentivizes increased contact and, by extension, better engagement.
By definition, collaboration fosters connection. Engaging remote employees with collaboration is markedly more straightforward than trying to engage remote workers in an authoritarian environment.
Adopting this collaborative management style will increase your connection to your remote teams and increase productivity by establishing clear deadlines and points of contact for questions and concerns. Most importantly, it creates a healthy work-life balance for you and your employees.
With collaboration, your employees will come together as a remote team. This reduces turnover, increases employee happiness, and puts your business in a position to scale effectively.
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Alliance Virtual Offices provides several tools for motivated entrepreneurs focused on engaging remote employees.
With one of our Virtual Offices, you can create an environment for your employees that nourishes innovation, engages remote workers, and is a perfect vehicle for collaborative management.
Our space-backed workspaces offer an excellent place for you to break the routine of working from home each day. Traditional leases are prohibitively expensive, and the standard length of one of these leases is anywhere from three to five years.
Our Virtual Offices have plans starting at a mere 6-month minimum, meaning you get a cost-effective alternative without committing for years at a time.
Independently, we provide Live Receptionists and Virtual Phones to help connect your remote teams and give you more time to focus on your core operations.
Our Live Receptionists provide a fantastic way for you to focus on engaging remote employees.
Rather than spending hours on the phone each day and screening countless calls alone, allow one of our professional and friendly receptionists to handle the calls while you focus on bringing your team together!
Similarly, our Virtual Phones protect your personal cell number and easily connect your entire team. Not only do our Virtual Phone Numbers legitimize your business, but with unlimited extensions, you can easily onboard new employees and integrate team members.
Engaging remote employees requires a personal touch regardless of the digital tools you decide to use.
It might sound contrived, but the most important aspect of engaging remote employees is simply making them feel heard, appreciated, and valued.
So, by treating your employees with respect, you are reducing employee turnover, increasing productivity, and taking full advantage of the countless opportunities that digital businesses provide.
Whether you’re an established entrepreneur struggling to engage your remote employees or a brand-new entrepreneur that wants to get ahead of the pack, we’ve got you covered.
Contact us today to see how we can make engaging remote employees even more straightforward, and sign up for our newsletter for more helpful business tips!