Breaking the Nine-to-Five: How to Effectively Engage Remote Employees

Kiki Pierce

Kiki Pierce is a Manager at Educe leading Cornerstone CSX (formerly Cornerstone OnDemand) Learning, Performance, Succession, and Compensation implementations.…

43 percent of employed Americans last year worked remotely to some degree, according to a Gallup poll released earlier this year. The growing trend of working remotely makes sense given the many benefits of the arrangement. Companies can broaden their geographic reach with minimal, if any, additional cost associated with traditional satellite offices. Remote work allows business hours to be extended beyond the typical eight-hour workday, especially if employees work remotely in different time zones. Not every employee’s life aligns well with a nine-to-five job; employees gain the flexibility to arrange their schedules so that personal needs, from picking up kids to quick trips to the grocery store, better align with job demands.

That said, just because remote work is authorized does not guarantee its success. Here are six tips to keep in mind when arranging a remote work schedule to ensure both the firm and employee benefit:

1. Effectively Communicate

Failing to communicate is perhaps the most common cause of remote work disappointments. Before remote work is started, employees and managers should take simple steps like syncing calendars and making it clear that open communication and honesty is essential. Additionally, embracing the 360 Review process is key to understanding and evaluating how successfully you communicate with others. The 360 review process enables your coworkers (and not just your direct manager) to provide feedback on your performance.

2. Utilize Technology

The rapid advancement of technology has made it easier to work remotely. For example, Educe uses collaboration features on our internal platform, “Educe Connect”, to house important documents and allow access for all employees to communicate in an open forum. Streamlined apps like Slack, Skype, Google Talk, and WebEx are also excellent tools to make it feel like remote employees are sitting just down the hall.

3. Embrace Mentorship

All top athletes have coaches and all the best musicians have teachers. Why don’t all employees have someone to help them excel at what they do? At Educe, every consultants are paired with a mentor to help them navigate the company and learn from past experiences. Mentorship not only keeps remote employees connected, it helps hold both parties accountable—remote or not—through more personal relationships.

4. Establish Regular, In-person Meetings

Just because an employee is working remotely doesn’t mean there is no personal interaction. Educe arranges company-wide, biannual meetings where everyone has a chance to get face time with colleagues over several days in a retreat setting.  Traditional corporate conferences are also a convenient time to schedule feedback sessions with remote workers and engage in team building activities with coworkers and clients alike.

5. Focus on Results

A rewarding remote work partnership means employees and managers cannot get bogged down in traditional practices of a more structured workplace. PowerPoints sometimes will be written in the wee hours of the morning and conference calls at times will be taken in a coffee shop. The point is that attention should be focused on delivering the best product, not the process for creating the product.

6. Be Creative

Even though all team members aren’t physically present doesn’t mean they can’t feel involved. Think creatively to loop in remote team members with ideas like monthly employee spotlights that highlight the success and hard work of remote employees.

Remote work and the many benefits it provides is not something any successful and innovative firm should ignore. With these tips in mind, managers and employees can both learn to embrace the “lunchtime shower” and effectively work remotely.

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