Over the past decade, the total number of remote employees globally has increased by 115 percent. But despite this growth, a recent study featured in the Harvard Business Review found that remote work isn't ideal for all employees. In fact, two-thirds of remote employees consider themselves disengaged engaged and over 40 percent said said getting face-time with their teams would help build deeper relationships.
Hiring remote employees can have many benefits for your team. Doing so enables you to reach a wider talent pool than being confined your local market and can help you save on office space, among other benefits.
To set your remote employees up for success, you need to put measures in place to keep them engaged and feeling like a true part of the team. Start with these three tips:
1. Set up video conferencing.
Most businesses rely primarily on email. That doesn't present much of an opportunity for your remote employees to build relationships with the rest of your team.
Start communicating via video as early as the interview process so you can put a face to the name for each of your prospective hires. During the interview stage, have various current employees -- both remote and otherwise -- talk to candidates via video, so you can get a better feel for how they'd fit with your team.
Once you have remote team members on board, make sure they have access to quality video conferencing technology. All team members inside and outside the office should have computers with cameras. And your conference rooms should have cameras so remote team members can more closely interact with team members who are in the room.
When it comes to all company meetings, include a link to Google Hangouts, Zoom or other video conferencing tool, so remote employees can join and participate. For example, my team has a weekly all company huddle and we often host lunch and learns on a variety of topics. For all these meetings, we make it a top priority to ensure the remote team has the opportunity to join via video.
2. Host All-Company Events
My team consists of close to 200 employees, a few dozen of which work remotely around the country. To build relationships with our remote team and keep them engaged, we dedicate two weeks each year -- one in the winter to kick off the year and one during the summer -- to getting the whole team together in the office.
During these dedicated weeks, we host team-building events, have a company Town Hall and bring in guest speakers, among other activities. The time in the office give both remote employees and those who work on site the chance to get to know one another on a more personal level. Ultimately, this can help them communicate even better once we're no longer all together in the office.
3. Collect Feedback from Remote Employees
Since remote employees are among the most likely to feel disengaged, it's important to continuously work toward improving the employee experience.
You probably send employee engagement surveys once or several times a year. Consider also sending separate surveys to remote employees or having your HR team touch base with each remote employee every so often.
To collect feedback from remote employees, ask about whether or not they feel engaged, how you can help them feel more engaged, if there are any resources that can help them improve in their roles, and more.
Once you receive this feedback, outline next steps to improve the experience for remote employees. It's critical that all employees -- including those who don't work in the office -- feel valued.
According to a study from TINYpulse, employees feel 91 percent more productive when working outside the office. Your remote employees can be among the greatest contributors on your team. By following these tips, you can boost remote team engagement and increase the likelihood of these employees staying with your company for the long haul.