Organisations that figure out how to effectively engage with remote employees stand to benefit from increased productivity, loyalty, and innovation.

As companies of all industries have transitioned to remote working, it is likely that the trend will continue long after the pandemic ends. The global PwC Future of Remote Work survey revealed that 80 percent of respondents anticipate remote work as the new norm, while Gartner research posits that 48 percent of employees will work remotely at least some of the time in the post-pandemic world. Additionally, applications for remote jobs in Asia Pacific are growing, with an increase in demand for remote work among job seekers.

Organisations that figure out how to effectively engage with remote employees stand to benefit from increased productivity, loyalty, and innovation. However, there is often a tendency for isolation among remote employees, who may not feel like part of the team. Many remote employees feel left out when critical decisions are made, with sudden changes in strategy and project direction sprung onto them.

Ultimately, these factors combine to foster a sense of negativity which will over time begin to affect overall team cohesion and productivity levels, contributing to poor team performance and reduced employee retention rates.

The answer to resolving such issues lies in finding a solution that integrates remote employees with site-based teams, which may include social activities, task delegation, and intra-team relationships.

Here are nine tips that can help recharge an organisation’s remote work strategy.

1. Open communication
Open communication is a key ingredient in making sure that everyone is on the same page. With remote work, there is a need to be more deliberate about communicating between and across teams.

Remote workers could also greatly benefit from regular check-ins. Up to 46 percent of remote employees have a high opinion of managers they speak with frequently.

Another way to ensure open communication is using surveys and group updates. With open communication, remote workers find it easier to speak out and discuss their work-related ideas and concerns.

By using communication tools that allow for fast responses between remote and onsite employees, organisations can double engagement levels with their remote staff.

2. Small talk
Remote workers are not robots. By opening the floor to non-work-related discussions, managers can help to foster an air of camaraderie, which can quickly spread across the team.

Small talk can also be a great opportunity to discuss thoughts about company processes. In a less formal setting, people are more likely to express what they honestly think.

3. Clearly outlined KPIs and individual goals
39 percent of people who work from home complete designated tasks faster than employees in a physical workplace. In order to achieve this level of productivity, organisations need to set measurable objectives for remote employees.

When remote workers don’t have a clearly assigned goal to hit, they feel a disconnect. Managers can fill the gap by setting clear objectives and highlighting recommended work schedules, available resources, and deliverables.

4. Celebrating with remote employees
Organisations can improve their remote work strategy by being intentional about celebrating achievements and significant contributions from remote employees. Celebrations should occur on group conference calls and should not be limited to work milestones.

Tools that help organise employee details will prove useful. To illustrate this, a simple card signed by the whole team can do wonders on birthdays or work anniversaries. Such a gesture will signal to the remote employee that they are part of an organisation that cares about them.

5. Inclusion
Remote employees feel stifled when left out of critical decision-making processes. Although it’s easy to shunt remote workers out of certain meetings, organisations should make a deliberate effort to include them in meetings and work calls.

Including remote employees in key meetings will help foster the belief that they are a crucial part of an organisation’s corporate culture.

6. Encourage feedback between peers
Boston Consulting Group finds that many people have maintained or improved productivity during COVID-19, but fewer have done so on collaborative tasks.

By encouraging feedback among peers, remote employees have a platform to learn from and collaborate with each other. Consequently, it is much more unlikely for them to start feeling isolated.

7. Inject some fun
In a physical workplace, there are all sorts of jokes, pranks, and banter. All of this contributes to the positive feelings that exist between employees and team members.

With remote work, these kinds of interactions can’t exist naturally. However, fun initiatives can help replicate them. For instance, workspace decorating contests, virtual team building activities, challenges, and gift exchanges can help your remote workers to settle in faster.

8.Invest in their career growth
The opportunity for career growth is a factor that is sure to keep an employee working well within the wider team.

Organisations should be deliberate about the growth of their remote employees by understanding their ideal career paths and providing appropriate advancement opportunities, training, industry seminars, and excursions.

Singapore recently complemented its pioneering SkillsFuture Initiative through the deployment of Enhanced Training Support Package (ETSP)48 to support workers and organisations in sustaining investment in reskilling and upskilling during COVID-19. The package includes a significant increase in funding for Absentee Payroll Support and Course Fee Support among industries severely hit by the pandemic.

9. Equip the team with the right communication tools
Conversation is crucial to the fostering of any relationship. As there is a disconnect in the form of human interaction, communication with remote workers is more likely to be punctuated. Thankfully, there are communication tools to help companies bypass the communication barriers posed by remote work.

By selecting tools that make it easy for remote employees to stay up to date on company updates, instructions, and team objectives, organisations can greatly improve productivity.