More businesses have been expanding their workforce with work-at-home employees. Remote employees allow a company to grow without a commensurate increase in physical space.
According to a telecommuting report by Global Workplace Analytics, an average business saves around $11,000 per person each year by utilizing work-from-home employees!
That’s enough dough to make any small business owner consider it as an option. And, with all of this extra money, businesses have more resources to reinvest in their brand.
The downside? Working at home in isolation isn’t a good option for everyone.
Without physically being in an actual office, remote employees can suffer from a lack of focus, poor work performance, and sometimes even depression.
On the other hand, being able to work from home may give some employees the quiet space they need to truly excel.
4 Tips to Keep Your Remote Employees Engaged
If you’re a business owner looking to implement a work-from-home program, check out these 4 tips to keep your remote workforce engaged.
1. Daily video conferences
Meeting with your team each day is a great way to answer questions, go over new protocols, and generally just make sure everyone is on the same page. Even if you do 3-minute shotgun meetings, including your work at home employees is essential to creating and maintaining a true team atmosphere.
Make sure your work at home employees can attend these meetings either via phone call or Skype video. This should be a priority.
If they are not able to attend any meetings because they’re tied up on a phone call or a case, you should type up meeting notes that can be accessed via a shared drive. That way they can still be kept in the loop even if they happen to miss a session or two. However, even if they are occupied, I always suggest getting them on a video call and just have them on mute! It’s always nice to see the team, even if you can’t engage with them.
2. Acknowledge and reward great work
It’s easy to recognize greatness at the office because it’s happening in front of your face. Work at home employees, not so much.
Work at home employees may feel slighted when their stellar work performance goes unnoticed, which may negatively affect how they perform in the future. They may be thinking “if no one notices when I do a good job, who cares if I slack off?” If this mindset continues, your great employee will go from a friendly customer service rep to an angry talker before you know it.
To ensure they aren’t spiraling downward, make it a priority to acknowledge and reward them whenever they do a good job. Go above and beyond the regular employee benefits. Just because you don’t see them every day doesn’t mean they aren’t still contributing to the growth of your brand.
Some easy ways to acknowledge your work at home employees include:
- Give them a phone call to check in periodically to see how they are doing and if they need anything from you or your team.
- Include them for employee-of-the-month considerations.
- Send remote employees gifts or flowers for their work anniversary, birthday, or other special events to remind them that you’re thinking of them.
- Email them virtual gift cards they can redeem when they close a big sale or assist a VIP customer.
3. Invite them to work events
Work at home employees often feel left out simply because they’re not there to experience the same things your in-house staff experience. When they feel alienated, they are less likely to engage and their work performance may suffer.
I always recommend that you invite your remote employees to work functions and events just as you would your in-house employees. Even if they’re working in another state (or country) sometimes it’s the thought that counts!
If they’re local, meeting up for a happy hour or participating in team building activities after hours is a great way to keep all of your employees engaged and motivated, and it will help strengthen your team's bond.
For companies that have mostly remote work forces, planning a yearly company outing at an all-inclusive resort is another great way to get everyone together in a relaxed atmosphere. Plus, it gives everyone something to look forward to. (And 360 days after the event everyone can try to piece together how Taylor from accounting ended up wearing a Spiderman costume in the pool.)
Also, if your company holds annual seminars or conferences, flying your remote employees out to work a booth or just be there for support is a great way to keep them involved and up to date.
4. Provide resources they can easily access when needed
Since work at home employees can’t get up and walk over to their supervisor’s desk to ask a question, a great way to keep them engaged and on the same page is by providing resources they can easily access whenever necessary.
Some easy ways to provide resources to your work-at-home employees include:
- Create documents on Google Drive that you can share with all of your employees to access. Documents can include information like policies and procedures and core company knowledge.
- Within your live chat software, set up a group chat with everyone from your team or department. This not only helps remote employees stay in the loop, but it also keeps your office noise level to a minimum as employees can simply chat with each other instead of asking questions out loud.
- If you have a knowledge-base of information that customers can access to help answer questions, encourage your remote employees to utilize it as well. They will also be able to provide input and feedback which you can use to add more information and articles.
- Set up a camera in your office that your remote employees can access. While they may not be able to communicate, they can watch what’s going on and feel included in the mix.
Your work-at-home staff can be a smart way to grow your business with lower costs and without having to enlarge your office space. To get all the benefits of work-from-home employees, keep them engaged, acknowledge their effort, and provide resources tailored to a remote workforce.
Gabby Rolette is from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and writes for the SAS call center blog. She loves reading and writing, but when she’s not at work you can find her helping animals or spending time with her nieces and nephews.