Future of Work is Now: Engaging a Remote Workforce


 

November 2, 2022 | By: Adrian

Let’s talk about the topic that’s on the top of everyone’s minds – or at least on the top of everyone’s social feeds… quiet quitting. Don’t worry, we’re not going to mention those words again in this post, but we do want to dissect this topic a bit and really get to the heart of what it’s about. Engagement. Specifically, engaging a remote workforce.

Ask your team what they want

It’s clear from the recent trends in hiring, attrition, and media that work/life balance is the new corporate American dream. Manageable hours, remote work options, and compensation are all make or break requirements. In order to provide that but still sustain productivity, we need to focus on engagement in the workplace. One problem: the workplace is now stretched over states and time zones. So how are we engaging a remote workforce?

Let’s look at some ways to grow internal initiatives organically and sustainably.

Engaging benefits

Let’s start with the benefits package. If we look at traditional brick and mortar companies, benefits include retirement planning, healthcare, and time off in relation to how many years an employee has worked for the company. Benefits meant bonuses, and maybe the occasional trip or additional incentive. 

With the rise of tech companies, and the recent drive to remote solutions over the last 2 years, benefits have grown to encompass a myriad of offerings from unlimited PTO, to mental health days, home office stipends, and days off for volunteer work. We can learn from benefits like this. Take volunteering as an example.

Volunteering is a great opportunity for bonding, even writing about it conjures up memorable images of the “Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Fun Run Pro Am Race for the Cure.” With a sea of national charities and organizations, including online charity events like Hack-a-thons or gaming sessions, volunteering is an engaging opportunity to improve relationships among your remote team, which increases productivity. 

Have your team vote on a charity collectively and make it an annual event with a dedicated slack or teams channel. Get marketing involved, come up with a design, make an annual donation, and use it as a leverage point for increasing communication channels and involvement.

Engaging Interests

Let’s face it, we spend so much of our time plugged in. We work online but we also play online. As a company, you can facilitate channels that can replace that water cooler chit chat and the company picnics that aren’t possible in remote teams.

Slack Channels

Dedicated channels in slack (or Teams), for interest groups are a great idea, but they do need a bit of structure to be successful on a large scale. A great place to start is with things that everyone loves, like their pets. Assign a moderator and hold weekly contests, have the team post pictures and vote on the cutest pet pic of the week. Gardening channels, music channels, cooking channels, and hobby channels are also great things to start – or encourage your team to start organically based on what they like. These are things people will seek out outside of work, if you provide them your team will build that communication network internally.

Engaging Meetings

Ah meetings, the thing we all want less of. For going remote, there seems to be an overall consensus that we’re getting a bit too much face time. There is a fine line between building engagement and engagement overkill. Too much face-to-face work engagement will kill the drive for teams to want to participate in more social company events like virtual cocktail hours or game nights.

The best way to manage is to assess, and to let each of the teams in your company; marketing, sales, engineering, determine their own team meeting schedules and work cadences that work best for the size of their teams and their project requirements. Structure is important but so are flexibility and customization. It all comes back to balance.

Peer Programming

For those who have been working remotely for a while – especially programmers, a great training or team tool is peer programming. We have heard it called an Accountability Hour, as well. It’s simple. Set aside time with a peer to work on something together on a video call without interruptions. It can be done daily or weekly for an hour or two at a time. During the allotted time, you begin by letting the person know what you are working on and what you plan to accomplish in the time you have together. Then you know that person is available exclusively for you if you have questions or would like to bounce an idea off them. Then at the end of your time, you share what you accomplished and schedule your next meeting. This has shown to be highly effective building the relationship between peers. Protip: Use this time to help with tasks that require a lot of focus.  

Tying it all together: engaging a remote workforce

Finding that Goldilocks zone is not easy, and once you do find it – it’s likely that the balance will change as your team and directives scale. Remember those two words at the beginning we promised we wouldn’t say again? Well, that movement started because work culture lost its balance while scaling out of brick and mortar and into a limitless online space. Now we have an opportunity to define engagement in a healthy way that will support stable growth as remote teams move into the future.

Don’t lose sight of your goals. An advantage to remote teams is that they are able to be supported easily by augmented teams. Contract work, temporary contractors, and partnering with platforms and organizations (like us), make it easy to increase your workload and productivity without compromising company wellness and engagement. 

Ready to get started? Reach out to us today to learn more!