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Foretheta

Are remote teams less engaged?

Yassine Tounsi
I am an accomplished Project Management Professional (PMP), with +10 years of experience in software engineering.
Originally published at foretheta.com Updated on ・4 min read

Employee engagement is the degree of an employee's involvement in the workplace. It is the emotional connection and ownership employees feel they have for an organization.

A lot of managers believe that remote teams are not engaged enough because they are not working in an office.

This article will state why managers feel that on-site workers are more engaged; it will further explain how remote teams can showcase engagement and deliver exceptional results.

1. Sense of belonging

Active engagement thrives on employees' enthusiasm. Employees have an interest in engaging when they feel like they are part of the organization.

Some managers assume that employees feel a sense of belonging only by being physically present. Having a sense of belonging is not about physical attendance but rather about motivation. Workers can be present on-site and still feel like an outsider in the organization.

Managers can create a strong sense of belonging within remote teams by simply creating opportunities for team members to participate in the decision-making process.

Seeking your team's opinion on how to enhance services, for instance, instills a sense of belonging in them. They go the extra mile to get involved in the planning process to make the project successful.

Carrying your team along also makes them accountable. Everyone takes part in the responsibility of reaching team goals.

Everyone understands that the manager is not solely responsible if things go wrong: the entire team bears the consequences because they collectively took the decision.

2. Face-to-face interactions

An organization excels when team members interact with each other on their projects.

On-site workers have the privilege of face-to-face interactions. Managers feel connected to workers just by meeting them or seeing them do their work.

Remote teams can also have face-to-face interactions through video calls. They can be more deliberate about their interactions. They can leverage specific tools to engage their team on tasks.

A manager can have weekly 1on1s with each team member. This interaction allows you to connect with members about their assigned tasks. Both the manager and the employee can identify better ways of getting things done.

You can also have casual interactions where workers share ideas about specific topics. Noman Gul, an employee at Foretheta, introduced a weekly question and answer thread. Anyone can ask an open-ended question. For example, one of his recent questions was: What is something you recently tried but failed to do?

Such discussions will start interesting conversations that allow you to understand your team better.

3. Regular communication

Communication is a big part of engagement in the workplace.

On-site workers have the advantage of physically being in the office. Managers can message workers and have spontaneous meetings.

Remote teams can also communicate frequently. A manager can have weekly meetings with employees to ask for progress on assigned tasks. You can also have monthly sprint planning meetings about current and upcoming projects.

You can communicate with your remote team on a centralized system like Slack. There are also channels for private and public conversations. You can post information for the entire group on public platforms where someone can ask questions, and any team member can respond whenever they have time.

It is wrong, however, to use for constant communication: no one would be able to get work done if that were the case.

Communication among remote teams does not always have to be work-related. There should be room for small talk since informal discussions help remote teams bond and connect better.

You can schedule monthly non-work related calls for the team to hang out and unwind. Video applications like Zoom are suitable for remote group interactions: you can see and hear everyone as they chat away.

Working with a remote team does not mean you can never meet your team in person. You can organize an annual retreat for the whole team to meet up in a physical place.

4. Giving Feedback

Feedback on performance is essential for employee engagement. It gives them a sense of recognition of their efforts, and it highlights areas of improvement.

Managers feel that giving on-site workers instant feedback is not only faster but also more comfortable.

Remote teams can also get instant feedback by leveraging technology. Some software allows managers and workers to share the same virtual workspace at the same time. So, managers can give feedback in real-time as well.

You and your team can provide feedback on projects via a distributed conversation. People can post observations and suggestions for everyone to see.

The team at Foretheta does quarterly feedback on peer performance. Everyone fills out a simple questionnaire about their peers' performance, and each person has to come up with a suggestion for improvement. This feedback helps team members be more efficient in their duties.

5. Better training and learning

Continuous training and learning are vital in an evolving business place. Employees need to learn new skills to keep up with new trends in their field.

Managers feel that it is easier to train on-site workers. They not only tell them what to do but show them how to do it.

Remote training is quickly becoming a trend. Organizations want to cut the high cost of physical training by adopting the remote method.

Remote teams are the first beneficiaries of remote training. They deploy digital tools for employee onboarding and continuous learning.

You can set aside a budget for training and self-development courses. You can also encourage employees to share what they are learning on the job with the entire team. Other team members can learn a thing or two from others' experiences. Contributing to the team's knowledge and skills instills a sense of pride in your group. It also makes them feel like part of the company.

Employee engagement thrives when managers and team members have a common goal. A manager has to stir their team in the right direction. Remote teams can be as engaged as a manager wants them to be: the resources and practices discussed above can make it happen.

In this article, we talked about several ways in which remote work can be just as effective as working on site. It requires a little bit of thought and effort to come up with strategies to manage employee engagement. Hopefully, some of the tactics mentioned here can get rid of some misconceptions that managers might have regarding remote work.

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