I work from home two days a week. I consider that a huge perk – I live 45 minutes from my office, and am a busy mom to two kids who, between them, have soccer practice five nights a week. Working remotely helps me find some of that balance we are all desperately seeking. And, it allows me to multitask, which means the soccer socks are actually clean on game day. In all seriousness though, flexibility is a key benefit for me, and I am not alone. Remote and flexible schedules are more popular than before. In fact, Forbes estimates that as much as 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will soon be remote.

While people’s opinions on whether or not this is a good thing may vary, the facts are the facts. And with as many as half of the workforce working offsite, at least some of the time, employers need to be thoughtful about how to keep those people engaged and motivated.

If you work with employees who work remotely, consider the following tips.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Skype, Slack, Facetime and numerous other apps and platforms make it easy to communicate with one another regardless of location – take advantage of them! But, work with your team to decide which one or two methods work best and stick to those channels. Otherwise, you run the risk of overwhelming people and it can be more distracting than beneficial. And, remember – while virtual communication is great, it shouldn’t completely replace an old-fashioned conversation. People still prefer to actually talk to one another, so make an effort to pick up the phone. Lastly, make sure you have a regular team meeting on the calendar to bring people together on a consistent basis.

With as many as half of the workforce working offsite, at least some of the time, employers need to be thoughtful about how to keep those people engaged and motivated.Click To Tweet

Get to know people as people.

Remote employees aren’t gathering around the water cooler to talk about their weekend plans, or their latest Netflix binge. But, knowing people as people – and not just employees – goes a long way in building trust, relationships and ultimately, engagement. Make an effort to get to know people for who they are outside of work. As an example, we start each of our monthly team meetings by asking everyone – those gathered in the room and those joining us on the phone – to share two good things, one work related and one not, in their lives since we last met. Whether it’s training for a marathon or potty-training their two-year-old, this ritual gives us a small glimpse into what’s important to people outside of work and provides opportunities to connect on a more personal level.

Recognize successes.

When a remote employee completes an assignment, it’s easy to take a look and then send it on or file it away before moving on to the next thing on your to do list. Make sure you recognize remote employees when it’s deserved and share their successes with the larger team/organization.

Bring people together as often as possible.

Be intentional about getting your team together in person as often as possible for planning meetings, retreats or other business purposes. And, when possible, combine business with social opportunities that allow employees to get to know one another better to build trust and enhance relationships.

Long story short, out of sight should not be out of mind. What else has worked successfully for you in engaging remote employees?

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