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How to Manage Teams Remotely & Improve Engagement

As a business leader who transitioned your team to remote work, you may be considering keeping the status quo for the time being or even permanently. 

You also may be wondering what steps you should take to better preserve your culture and sustain your productivity.

Here are some guidelines for managing remote teams and keeping employees engaged in the process.

Managing Remote Teams

Before the onset of the coronavirus crisis, 38% of small and midsize businesses in the United States offered remote work as an option for employees. 

Since then, remote working has transformed from a work/life balance benefit into a recommended practice for keeping employees safe.

Check out six tactics to help you overcome the obstacles of managing remote teams.

Keep Communication Open & Frequent

To sustain trust and keep your employees connected, recreate the same rituals and cadence of your communications as before. Add new checkpoints to keep everyone aligned on plans for meeting customers’ changing needs.

Clean Up Your Technology Tools & Practices

Don’t let your teams select their remote work tools; assign a single platform that meets everyone’s needs. Then, require every employee to have an active account that performs basic functions. That means having the right apps installed, the right plug-ins downloaded, the appropriate dial-in numbers for international participants, and so on. If you don’t enforce these rules, expect a 10-minute delay, at minimum, at the beginning of each meeting.

Start Each Meeting With a Purpose

When you’re leading a meeting, first provide a brief recap of the topic at hand and communicate the meeting’s purpose. For example, you might say: “We are here today to bring the accounting team up-to-speed on incremental costs associated with remote working.” Acknowledge who’s on the line, review the agenda, and ask for additions. Then, establish a protocol for how people can contribute, such as using hand-raising tools, taking turns to speak, or using chat features. If a conversation between individuals goes too long, ask them to take it offline.

Take Advantage of Web-Conferencing Platforms

To make your calls more productive and interactive, take advantage of the features offered by web-conferencing platforms. Chat features invite people to greet each other, send messages, share links, and make comments. Screen sharing can make it easier for participants to follow along in a presentation. Webcams can make meetings more personal while keeping attendees engaged and accountable. The “mute all” feature is useful in the event of background noise. Recording the session is also helpful if you need to share it later.

Conclude Each Meeting With a Structured Plan

End every meeting with a recap of follow-up items and confirm expectations for the next steps and deadlines. Ask for any comments or feedback, thank participants, and end the meeting promptly. Consider sending a follow-up email to outline highlights and to-dos.

Drive Engagement With Multichannel Communications

How you communicate with your employees is critical for keeping them engaged. Look for new ways to share information, report progress, and celebrate success virtually, whether that’s through employee newsletters, text notifications, or intranet boards. 

Improving Employee Engagement

Whether your team is remote, hybrid, or back in the office, keeping them happy and involved in the company remains a top priority. 

One way to increase employee engagement is through performance incentives that motivate and reward employees. 

Explore these tried-and-true bonus programs that have worked for other successful businesses.

Sign-On Bonus

Offering a sign-on bonus can be a good motivator for top talent to join your company. Rather than being based on completing a project or reaching a certain performance level, it’s given upon hire.

A sign-on bonus may help you find candidates with high-demand skills and key talent requirements. Typically, it’s a lump-sum payment that the employee receives with their first paycheck or after a certain amount of time in the new position.

Retention Bonus

Is your business about to undergo a merger, acquisition, or other significant transition? If so, you may want to consider a retention bonus, which is used to retain critical employees during times of change. 

Your company would pay the employee a pre-determined amount upon the occurrence of a specific event or date. The employee usually receives half of the bonus on their paycheck on a specific date and the remaining half on a date the company chooses.

Referral Bonus

Great employees often know other talented folks who may want to join your company. Consider offering a referral bonus to current employees for referring job candidates who end up being hired.

Performance-Based Bonus

This bonus is given out when an employee, team, or the entire company achieves a specific goal or objective. Performance-based bonuses are typically scheduled around a specific time frame, such as annually, semi-annually, or quarterly.

Project-Specific Bonus

This bonus is used to reward employees or teams on a project-related basis. Team members usually receive a lump sum after the successful completion of a special project. This means that the project was completed on time, within budget, and met any other established performance criteria.

Spot Bonus

What about those times when you want to show immediate recognition for exceptional work by an individual or team? A spot bonus could work well. It’s based on direct observation or feedback from others and is a quick way to show appreciation before year-end bonuses are awarded. An employee or team may earn a spot bonus by going above and beyond on a specific project or taking actions that positively impact the company’s objectives.

Non-Monetary Rewards

These types of benefits are popular for a couple of reasons. First, your company may or may not have the funds available to give out a cash reward. Second, some employees may even appreciate these types of rewards more than money. For example, extra time off, telecommuting opportunities, or flexible hours may appeal more to time-strapped employees or those who have long commutes.

Managing Remotely & Improving Engagement

Now you have some ideas on how to keep managing your team remotely and engaging their involvement.

The key aspects of remote management include keeping the lines of communication open, making the best use out of technology, and being mindful of how meeting time is spent. 

When it comes to increasing engagement, it’s crucial to be cognizant of which options will best motivate your employees.

Following these tips and suggestions will help you alleviate workflow disruptions, technical issues, and cultural shifts within your organization.

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Vistage Research Center publishes actionable, data-driven insights and expert perspectives from our global community of CEOs and thought leaders. Led by Joe Galvin, Chief Research Officer