4.3 million. That’s the number of U.S. employees who work from home at least half the time, according to the latest statistics from GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com. In a world where technology makes it easy for some people to work from anywhere, the demand for more flexible work schedules is bigger than ever. In fact, Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile: studies repeatedly show that employees work away from their desks 50-60 percent of the time.

Fortune 1000 companies around the globe are entirely revamping their space around the fact that employees are already mobile: studies repeatedly show that employees work away from their desks 50-60 percent of the time.Click To Tweet

While the ability to work remotely comes with many benefits (who doesn’t love to knock out a load of laundry while listening to a conference call?), it does require managers to work a little harder when it comes to keeping these employees engaged. And since employee engagement has a direct impact on your business success, it’s something all companies with remote employees should keep top-of-mind.

Here are tips for keeping your remote employees engaged:

Set clear goals and expectations. Don’t make assumptions about what working remotely means to them. For example, be especially clear about availability – do you expect them to be available between set office hours? Have these conversations up front, and revisit expectations on a regular basis.

Be inclusive. Invite your remote employees to join all meetings via phone or video conference, and be sensitive to time zones. Occasionally, host a meeting where all employees, not just the remote ones, join via video conference, so that everyone feels like they’re on the same playing field.

Schedule frequent check-ins. Regular meetings will help your remote employees feel more connected to you, the team and the company. It gives you a set time to discuss challenges, check-in on progress and share feedback. It’s also a good opportunity to ask about their personal life and get to know them beyond the job. Remote employees will feel more engaged and committed to the company if they know you care about them as a person as well as an employee.

Foster personal connections with their colleagues. It can be hard to build relationships when you’re not in the same physical location as your team, so be sure to help foster connections between remote and office employees. For example, post a weekly “get to know you” question somewhere for all employees to answer, or encourage employees to share one photo a week related to their personal life.

Encourage the use of collaborative tools. There are plenty of platforms to help remote employees communicate and collaborate in real time with other employees. Make sure all employees are using the same tools, and encourage employees to use them for “water cooler” type conversations in addition to work-related conversations. These more casual, impromptu chats will help remote employees build those relationships, and also can help spark new and creative ideas.

Remember to recognize and reward. It’s easy to forget to show appreciation when you don’t see the employee every day. Make a concerted effort to highlight your remote employees’ accomplishments, ideas and milestones, whether that’s during a team meeting, in a weekly team email, or through other formal and informal channels.

Meet in person. Whenever possible, meet with your remote employees in person. Bring them into the office, meet them somewhere that’s half way for both of you, or bring your entire team together for a retreat. Getting together in person will help build trust, which is key to any working relationship, but is especially important when someone is working remotely.

 How do you keep your remote employees engaged?

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