Understanding why remote workers are more engaged can help your entire staff
- Proximity breeds complacency. If easy water cooler discussions are available, employees tend to take such commonplace interactions for granted while remote employees value personal interactions more and are more apt to take better advantage of facetime, phone calls, internal social media connections, and so forth than their in-office peers.
- Absence makes people try harder to connect. If one of your closest friends moves to a new city, you might find yourself making extra efforts to maintain contact after they move. The same is true in business. Remote workers are often more inclined to schedule weekly check-in calls, follow-up more stringently on emails, and work to preserve as much connection to their supervisors and colleagues as possible. Often, managers of remote staff also make it a point to reach to those staff members on a regular basis to make sure they feel connected and part of the team, which they may not do for workers outside their door because of the physical proximity.
- Leaders of virtual teams make a better use of tools. Managers of remote workforces are more in touch with the range of communications tools that can deliver a sense of connection. Often that means phone and email, but it also includes instant messages, chat rooms, texting, social media, Skype or other video chat systems, and other tools. These tools can actually create deeper impact than managers that interact primarily in conversations around the office. They can also provide an easy reference of past communications in the form of email chains, saved texts, and instant message logging.
- Leaders of far-flung teams maximize the time their teams spend together. When time for in-person meetings is rare, it's natural to make the most of it. Managers and workers that see each other only quarterly (or even less often) want to cover a lot of ground and don't want to waste time with distractions. That means in-office meetings, sharing a lunch, or meetings outside of the office tend to be much more focused. If you know you can address a point with a brief stop in someone's cube, it's easier to step out of a meeting to take a phone call or handle a task.
All of those are excellent points.
But they don't need to apply just to remote workers. All of the practices that make remote workers more engaged can be incorporated for in-office staff as well. Here's a quick list of some ways to make that happen.
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