We’ve all been working remotely for a while now, and most of us have settled into our routines. We’ve gotten out of the habit of hustling out the door, and have generally slowed our pace down throughout the day (even if it’s just a little, with children tugging at our pajama pants). However, with that routine comes a level of comfort. We have generally accepted the state of things for now, and no matter where our local governments are in loosening lockdown restrictions, there’s a reduced sense of urgency, compared to the days of our office grind.
Maybe it’s depression, or complacency, but we’ve settled into our ways a bit.
For managers, this may not be a great thing. As we’ve given up on fighting the state of things, we may also not be as engaged as we once were in the beginning. When working remotely was new, there was a strong energy as we sought to figure things out. Now that it’s, dare I say, a habit, that electricity has weakened a little, and we need ways to become more interactive with our teams.
As a manager, you can breathe new life into your teams a bit, but it’s going to take some effort and time. You’re fighting something of epic proportions here, and must remember you’re not a superhero. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t help right the ship and get workers back on track. Here are our 5 Ways to Keep your Remote Employees Engaged!
Mental Check In.
As managers are dealing with their own lives at the moment, it can be difficult to remember others. However, both you as a manager, and your teams, need to have mental check-ins.
Either offer up office hours, or schedule short, weekly chats with your individual team members to make sure they have a safe space to voice concerns and where they’re feeling left out or what is really draining their energy.
You’re not a therapist, and no one expects you to be, but you can at least help them to feel heard regarding work issues.
Give them a voice to help shape how the team is collaborating, or to provide feedback on what may not be working well with the project.
Celebrate the Wins.
It’s very easy to feel run down in this current environment. It seems our personal, family and work demands are commingling and it’s a porridge of a mess at times. The small victories can really keep employees feeling celebrated, and still a functional part of the team. Maybe you can have superlatives, like “Functions Best Under the Pressure of a Global Pandemic”, and keep it somewhat light, but all the while highlighting something your team members have done that really matters.
If you have actual benchmarks to measure by for project progression, that’s even better. These wins can also be something private, for your next one-on-one meeting, where you can praise that worker for stepping outside of their comfort zone, for example. There are many different ways to do it, but celebrating something they’re doing right keeps them coming back for more.
Allowing employees to work when it’s most conducive for them results in them performing more efficiently. When workers feel overwhelmed, it’s easy to want to run away from it all, especially if you feel like you can never quite get on top of things.
Managers may not have a full picture of what is going on in the home office environment, but it’s great to encourage employees to take care of themselves throughout the day. Make sure your team feels comfortable communicating that need for flexibility and, as their manager, do what you can to accommodate it.
Focus on What is Exciting.
There may be tasks or responsibilities your workers have found a new passion for while working remotely. Maybe they’ve found that the early morning is best for them to hash out any creative work that needs to be done, while focusing on meetings later in the day, but also that it really excites them to let their brain flow freely.
This is a golden opportunity for you to make some shifts amongst your team with passion projects they may have, as well, which can be equally as beneficial for your company. Allowing your workers to explore more of what they want to do can reinvigorate their work day, remotely or not.
This may sound counterintuitive, especially if everyone is heads down on a large project right now, but allowing your remote employees to explore new challenges is key to keeping them committed. They may need something of their own to work towards, such as a certification to help them learn new skills and become more competitive, or taking a new position on an existing project to push them out of their comfort zone.
Now is also a great time to examine their strengths and weaknesses and make sure they’re aptly stimulated. A new purpose may be just what is needed to re-energize your team.
There are a multitude of ways to keep your employees engaged, but the key point is, you have to make it a priority, and continue trying if a few methods don’t work at first.
Each person is different, and it may be that some members of your team respond in certain ways to particular stimuli. Pat yourself on the back for taking action, and striving to grow each and every day!