Keeping virtual workers engaged is a big challenge for all companies. Working remotely can be isolating and requires a lot of effort from all sides. For management, it takes a decent amount of trust and confidence to rely on employees you might not see in person or be able to physically check in with regularly. For remote employees, motivating yourself to be productive and meet deadlines with little to no supervision is quite the task. After all, remote employees do not have the luxury of being immersed in a productive office culture and therefore might not be as engaged as others working locally.

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However, remote employees don’t have it all bad. They can enjoy perks like having less office-related distractions at home and work more according to their own schedule. When the perfect balance is achieved for remote employees, they can become really valuable players to a company. They can essentially become a new channel of productivity that requires little supervision and fewer office resources. Here are some ways you can help remote employees strike that balance and keep them engaged.

Develop Relationships

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Because you don’t have the opportunity to work with remote employees in an office, it’s only natural for you to miss out on some of the daily interactions that help spur strong office relationships. You don’t have the same water cooler conversations or Monday weekend recaps that help jump start the rest of the work week. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have the opportunity to develop a strong relationship with your remote employees.

Do your best to get to know your remote employees as people. If you can’t waltz over to their desk for a little small talk, take the time in your virtual conversations, whether by phone or email, to ask them about their day, their weekends, their life. Don’t always make your conversations about work. All it takes is a minute or two to learn something new about what is going on in their lives outside of work. Developing a relationship as colleagues will make them feel more invested in their work because they are reminded that they are part of the team.

Establish Regular Check-Ins

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So you can’t reserve that conference room for a physical meeting between you and your remote employee, but what you can do is still hold regular check in calls to see how their work is coming along. While working remotely may not require as much supervision as working in an office might, it is still helpful to provide some sort of guidance and accountability that will keep remote employees motivated and consistent. Look into establishing a weekly check in call so that both of you are on top of work progress, deadlines, and have the chance for feedback and questions that might not come up with infrequent check ins.

Maximize Technology

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Remote jobs are a new phenomena that have only been made possible by the birth of technology. Email makes it fast and easy to get in touch in case questions or tasks need to be communicated from one end to another. However, there’s a wealth of other technological resources that have popped up and made working remotely not so distant. For example, Google Hangouts and Skype let you have virtual webcam meetings that closely resemble face to face meetings. Remote employees can put a face to name and also feel like they personally know their managers, team, and even office. Take advantage of all the technological resources that will bridge the gap between remote employees. There are plenty of devices, software, and apps that can make a remote work experience resemble in an office work experience easily. Hoopla, for example connects employees across the company, wherever they are, with real-time updates, broadcasted metrics an celebration announcements on TV, web an mobile.

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About the Author

Kathleen Cancio Headshot

Kathleen Cancio is a freelance blogger who has worked in PPC Marketing and Public Policy Research. She was most recently a Search Marketing Analyst at CommonMind, LLC, one of Clutch’s top PPC Agencies for 2015. She has a wide range of interests including painting, traveling and hiking.