It may not seem like a luxury having your employees in the office every day. But then, your most talented employee is forced to uproot and move away for personal reasons.
First comes shock, then confusion. Then the desperate search for answers.
Telecommuting isn’t always the most ideal option, but it can go a long way toward preserving valuable employee relationships.
How then can business owners or executives maintain employee engagement when talent is located halfway across the country — or even the world?
The good news is that solid working relationships don’t have to take place solely in the office. Here are simple ways to keep your telecommuting employees a part of your employee engagement strategy, so they’re involved in what’s happening at the workplace.
1. Decide on the Best Form of Communication
Email is so early 21st Century. Although still one of the most popular forms of virtual communication, email is not the way to go if you’re searching for an immediate response. Coworkers, managers, and executives are virtually conversing with one another in a variety of new, innovative and socially efficient ways. Here are just a few:
And remember, in addition to the grand invention of the telephone, texting has also become an acceptable form of business communication (even for questions that require more than just a simple “yes” or “no” answer).
2. Check in Regularly
Use the agreed upon form of communication to check in with your virtual employees on a regular basis — weekly, bimonthly, etc.
This keeps them a part of your employee engagement strategy and allows them to know that they’re still on your radar and that you appreciate their contributions to the company.
3. Host Virtual Company Meetings
Help telecommuters get involved in your company by allowing them to attend and participate in company meetings.
The Internet is filled with plenty of virtual meeting platforms.
4. Promote Group Collaboration
Just because your employee isn’t in the office on a regular basis doesn’t mean they can’t participate in group projects. Working for a business means working together to reach a common goal, and including telecommuters in collaborative projects helps them further contribute to the workings of your business.
Online collaboration is also beneficial for your business.
5. Provide Opportunities for Growth
This can be tied in with virtual company meetings and group collaboration. Increasing your telecommuter’s employee engagement will allow you to better visualize how they work with others to improve your company.
Delegating specific tasks and responsibilities to virtual employees gives them a stronger sense of purpose and will, therefore, improve their loyalty and the quality of their contributions to your company.
6. Meet In Person
If possible, try to schedule one-on-one, in-person meetings regularly, perhaps monthly or quarterly by taking away office time and dedicating a length of time to your telecommuter on a regular basis.
Doing this demonstrates your commitment to them and shows them they are a crucial part of your team. It also shows that you care about them individually and that they aren’t just a number tossed in among your company statistics.
7. Keep a Company Blog
Company blogs are becoming increasingly popular as more and more businesses and consumers take to the internet to find the goods and services they need. But blogs aren’t just for generating website traffic. They are also a great way for individuals, including telecommuters, to gauge the values, services, and opinions of your company. Allow your virtual employee to reply to comments left by coworkers and consumers alike to maintain proper business etiquette.
Telecommuters don’t have to be secluded. Keeping them involved in your employee engagement strategy and giving them the tools they need to collaborate with in-house employees is crucial to the well-being of your company.
So, before you let one of your most valuable assets disappear across the horizon, consider offering them the option of telecommuting. You and your business will be rewarded by their continued success.
Home Image via Shutterstock
It also helps to not be overly controlling. I found that this works well with telecommuters – but only do this if you trust your employee enough for him or her to deliver without much control. It saves you both the stress.
I agree! If you micro-manage, you probably either 1) aren’t suitable to manage teleworkers; or 2) have selected the wrong person to work remotely.
A weekly communication rhythm is a key element for all manager/employee relationships, and even more critical for remote workers. Regularly asking pointed questions about challenges, triumphs, and performance can help managers maintain visibility and step in with support. They can acknowledge great performance or help steer off-track employees back into alignment with team and company goals. Overall, communicating in this way helps maintain open healthy relationships between managers and employees regardless of where those employees are in the world.
Amy, excellent tips. I think telecommuting is going to become more and more common. As a long-time remote employee, one thing I appreciate is the chance to communicate with people outside my team. It helps to get to know folks in accounting, engineering, etc. even if I’m not there to run into them in the hallway.
Hi Everyone, thank you for the comments. Glad you found the information about telecommuting to be helpful!