The coronavirus pandemic has rendered the traditional 9-to-5 in-office working arrangement almost redundant in most industries across the world. What started as a forced arrangement in the early months of the global pandemic has grown to become the new normal as employers continue to discover the many benefits associated with flexible working. They have realized that an employee gets more productive when supported sufficiently with at-home tech infrastructure and then allowed to work from wherever they wish, that running remote teams is cheaper than maintaining in-house teams, and that remote workers can be sourced and hired from any corner of the planet.

However, remote workforce engagement is a key concern for many employers, especially those experimenting with flexible working for the first time in 2020. These concerns are legitimate considering how mobile and dynamic remote workers can be. It is hard to pin them down in one location for easy engagement- they are scattered and they continue to scatter across the world. Besides, the modern workforce comprises multi-generations and that precipitates communication-related problems; each generation has their unique communication preferences.  But that is not to mean that remote employees are impossible to engage with. Here are five proven ways to build and measure remote workforce engagement in the right way.

1. Clearly define goals and deadlines

When you define goals and deadlines for remote employees and they actually meet all your expectations, what that basically means is that the employees have been optimally engaged within the set period. Their responsibilities have to be crystal clear in that regard, and each goal has to be measurable so that you can continually check their progress. You will help ease performance tensions and anxiety among remote workers by scheduling regular one-on-one meetings, sharing calendars, and encouraging all forms of team communication. That will discourage slacking within the workforce.

2. Be proactive

You will know if remote employees are optimally engaged if they consistently ask the right follow up questions. That means you need to be proactive- to check in with them frequently- in order to ensure that remote teams don’t feel disconnected. Don’t wait for them to raise problems with you. Be there to ask questions via email, phone, and video conferences on how you can help them to become more connected, engaged, and productive. Do that and you will not need any tech tool to tell you whether or not your employees are properly engaged.

3. Invest in the right employee engagement tools

You can also use technology to measure employee engagement. Start by measuring how smooth communication flows between remote teams. There are many communication tools these days including Zoom and Skype that address different communication and organizational needs. Team members who are never available for Zoom meetings are most likely disengaged from the project; you can easily weed them out. There also are project management tools, workflow automation software, and scheduling apps. All these tech tools can also provide great insights into how your remote teams operate. They can help you curate the amount of time spent on deep work, the hours when employees are most active and productive, and how you can help each team member to improve focus time.

4. Foster a culture of knowledge sharing

By so doing, you encourage employees to be their brothers’ keeper. You encourage them to develop one another professionally and be responsible for each other’s productivity. No one can sleep on the job knowing that someone else along the production line is waiting for a piece of information only they can provide. And because some of the information has to be compressed before sharing via mail, encourage employees to download file archivers such as file Unzipper for easy compressing of files and opening compressed files. Unzipper is completely free so you don’t have to worry about bloated budgets.

5. Invest in the right collaboration tools

Here are 2 top remote work collaboration tools that can come in handy for you when measuring employee engagement:

  • HipChat, a hosted group and video chat tool that on top of allowing real-time collaboration, provides employees and their managers to share files and share screens for easy collaboration.  It is always easier to track employee engagement when you share a screen with them.
  • Slack, a tool that enables you to create open channels for projects and tasks. Everyone in the team can track the progress of each project on the platform in real time.

In whatever you do, always remember that happy clients are easier to keep engaged compared to an unhappy, discontented workforce. Always reward your remote workers in order to keep them motivated and connected. Pay them in good time and respect their flexible work arrangement for as long as your set targets are met.

Dave Burrell is a business advisor for several companies in Arkansas and Asia now. He helped many of them create branches in China, Japan, and the Philippines, and have been quite exposed to business-making in those markets. He has experience working in a range of industries and providing technical support in topics such as business growth, market expansion, and product development. Currently, he is also serving as an Expert at Globalization Partner and provides technical advice for its China EOR solutions targeting U.S. International businesses. Burrell is passionate about family, languages, traveling, and reading.

Employee wearing mask stock photo by Odua Images/Shutterstock