Working from home has its perks, but many remote workers struggle to stay engaged. Workforce analytics software can help managers improve engagement and boost productivity.
To help remote employees work wiser, you have to do much more than simply accommodate virtual work. Remote employee engagement is a crucial piece of the puzzle, and that’s why ActivTrak has created employee engagement solutions that will help employees and managers maximize engagement at every opportunity. With the right technology and techniques, you can assess and address disengagement among your remote teams and help employees feel more fulfilled in their roles. This helps boost employee retention, create a healthy company culture, and yield better business results.
This article will explain how you can effectively manage remote team engagement. We’ll explore the effect of remote work on employee engagement, unpack the benefits and challenges of working from home, and offer employee engagement ideas for remote workers. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have everything you need to help surface opportunities to provide support quickly to those employees that need it most and ensure remote employees stay motivated and enthusiastic about your company’s vision.
The Importance of Remote Employee Engagement
Companies with higher levels of employee engagement experience numerous benefits, particularly when it comes to team productivity. According to Gallup, highly engaged workforces increase productivity by 21% and boast 17% higher levels of productivity than companies with disengaged employees. Disengaged employees, on the other hand. can truly cost your organization. One study found that companies with disengaged employees lose between $450 and $550 billion every year.
While there’s no doubt that engaged workers are more productive, there has been lots of discussion since the onset of the pandemic about whether remote work is good or bad for employee engagement. The majority of recent research shows that employees benefit from remote environments when it comes to engagement thanks to two key work-from-home benefits:
- Better work-life balance: A recent FlexJobs survey found that 56% of remote workers believe more work flexibility promotes better mental health, and another FlexJobs survey revealed 77% of respondents believe remote work improves general health by allowing for a better diet, more exercise, and a generally healthier lifestyle. Employees that can take better care of themselves, both physically and mentally, are more present and engaged during work hours.
- Fewer distractions and more productivity: 86% of remote employees feel that working alone increases their productivity! Similarly, 61% of respondents found loud colleagues to be a major distraction in the office and 40% disliked impromptu meetings that interrupted their workflow.
While many remote employees enjoy working from home, the challenges of managing remote workers can contribute to low remote employee engagement.
- Collaborating with co-workers: In the LiveCareer study, 37% and 36% of respondents cited communication and collaboration respectively as significant remote work challenges. Even with the right communication tools, it can be more difficult to stay connected via video calls than it would be by the water cooler.
- Creating a company culture: A recent Slack study found that 91% of workers want to feel closer to their colleagues. Team-building activities can help, but many virtual teams struggle with forming a true group identity.
- Staying involved in decision-making: The same Slack study revealed that 80% of workers are interested in learning more about their organization’s decision-making, but that can be hard to do when important decisions are only made in the office.
To attract new talent, support existing employees, and keep everyone productive and fulfilled in their roles, managers must do everything they can to increase remote team engagement.
Remote Employee Engagement Ideas
Here are five ways managers can foster employee engagement within their remote teams:
- Use data to create a remote employee engagement baseline
Employee activity data can help you form a remote employee engagement baseline, which gives you a point of reference to work forward from. Deviations from a remote employee engagement baseline can reveal opportunities to boost employee engagement and indicate whether or not your interventions are having an impact.
On the ActivTrak platform, it only takes four weeks of data collection for us to present managers with valid and clearly identifiable remote engagement baselines for individuals and entire teams. The ActivTrak Dashboard, Reports, and Insights are all configurable to show remote employee engagement through productive time, focus time, and other efficiency indicators across anywhere from 7 days to 12 weeks.
- Celebrate and share remote employee successes, big or small
In addition to creating remote employee engagement baselines, managers should also create short-term, achievable benchmarks and goals that help employees showcase their progress. Not only does this help employees stay engaged — many people find it easier to tackle smaller projects than one massive assignment — but it also allows managers to view how employees are progressing towards broader goals and celebrate those successes.
By highlighting wins and prioritizing employee recognition, leaders motivate everyone to succeed. This is also an easy way to incorporate some team bonding, too! All of your team members should get a shout-out at one point or another — for a birthday, work anniversary, or another work-related milestone.
- Ensure workloads are evenly balanced between remote workers
Workload balance naturally varies between workers, but employees with consistently high workloads can quickly become disengaged and burned out. ActivTrak’s workload balance capabilities enable managers to put employee working hours in context, giving insight into how remote team members function day-to-day.
You can understand utilization by viewing individual employee breaks, start and end times, and weekly productive hours. Then, you can compare individuals to each other to gain wider insights into how your remote employees spend their time. This enables managers to adjust schedules and workloads accordingly, implement wider remote work policies, and help every employee stay engaged and avoid employee burnout.
- Find creative ways for team members to connect
It’s important for remote employees to stay connected when face-to-face events aren’t an option. Managers can promote team-wide communication through online games, Slack channels, or tools like Kudos boards and digital badges. You can even have employees nominate their co-workers for awards, and encourage them to use personal communication channels to create a community of their own.
Team leaders can also incorporate collaboration and bonding into everyday remote work activities. For example, managers can designate time during weekly calls where team members can share fun facts, weekend highlights, or other personal anecdotes. Managers can also create virtual events that are solely dedicated to community building, like a Zoom “Pet Town Hall” where participants show off their animal friends or a virtual “Paint and Sip” where everyone paints the same picture and sips their beverage of choice. Feeling like a part of the team can go a long way when it comes to employee engagement.
- Consider a hybrid approach to remote work
Some employees might be disengaged because full-time remote work isn’t the perfect fit for them. A hybrid remote work environment enables employees to get work done in whatever environments support engagement and employee productivity levels — whether that be at home, in the office, in a third location (co-working space, coffee shop, etc.), or a combination of all three!
Hybrid work environments can help employees maintain a good work-life balance while also allowing for social interaction and in-person collaboration. However, maintaining visibility within a hybrid remote environment can be difficult for managers, especially managers who are primarily remote themselves. With the power of workforce analytics, team leaders can collect data and gain insights into their employee’s working habits and engagement levels no matter where they are.
With ActivTrak, managers can identify opportunities to increase employee engagement by:
- Viewing an executive summary of all employee engagement
- Spotting over-utilized and under-utilized employees
- Classifying productive time during working hours
- Setting realistic benchmarks based on real data
- Gaining personal insights into processes, behaviors, and habits
- Comparing team members and entire teams to each other for realistic expectations
With these capabilities and more, ActivTrak gives you all the data you need to keep employees engaged in every kind of virtual environment.
How ActivTrak Boosts Remote Employee Engagement
Remote workers can maintain a better work-life balance with more freedom and fewer distractions, promoting focus and productivity. However, remote workers can also feel isolated from their colleagues, find it challenging to collaborate on tasks, and find themselves uninvolved in the wider decision-making processes of their organization.
To keep modern-day employees motivated, managers must rethink their approach to remote employee engagement. We recommend setting reasonable goals and expectations, celebrating employee success stories, and finding creative ways for employees to engage with one another in order to achieve high levels of engagement.
ActivTrak is here to help! With features like workforce productivity goals and benchmarks, workload balance analysis, and dashboards and reports that highlight the individual and collective work habits of remote workers, managers can better understand their remote workers’ engagement levels and discover opportunities for even more engagement. No matter your remote environment, ActivTrak is here to help you boost your employee engagement for happier, healthier, and more productive employees.
- Set clear, reasonable goals and benchmarks for your employees and celebrate those accomplishments when they happen!
- Create a community within your team that promotes engagement and productivity, and encourage individual employees to bond with each other in creative ways.
- Use data to make a data-driven remote employee engagement strategy. Remember: insight, not oversight, is key!