How to Keep Remote Employees Engaged - Beginner’s Guide for Small Businesses

Last updated: August 7, 2020

Oh, the dream to work from home. While it’s not everyone’s dream, it certainly is mine and I’m fortunate to say that it not only works for me but it works for the company as well. And to be honest, I’ve produced my some of my best work since I’ve been working remotely.
Mind you, this is not the direction the company is taking. To be clear, I am not a receptionist and we don’t employ any receptionists with the intent of having them work from home. A national health crisis being an exception to this rule, we are experiencing a temporary adjustment in our usual working conditions. For you see, our methods of service require an environment where a team can support each other.

Unlike other answering services where you can call in and get hundreds of different virtual receptionist picking up your calls, Abby Connect assigns teams of five to each of the three separate time blocks in a 24/7 time frame.

So, if you are a client of ours, the most you’d have is fifteen receptionists on your team. Not hundreds. This provides our receptionists the opportunity to really get to know and understand our clients, their business, and their callers. There is a greater sense of accountability here.

Oh, and just to be clear, I was a receptionist when I first hit the floors of Abby Connect almost a decade ago. We like to promote within. And, during my tenure the opportunity arose when I decided to leave Las Vegas (where our office is located) and make a home for my husband and two amazing children on our little hobby farm in Idaho. 

Although remote work isn’t our typical work structure, we’ve made great strides in cultivating a culture that embraces and welcomes remote employees if the opportunity should present itself. If you’re contemplating having a remote staff, rest assured you can steer it towards success with these tried and true methods.

Trust

If you’ve been lucky to acquire great talent and your employee has been a rock star for your company, then be confident in said employee who wants to go remote – they’ve already proven themselves effective and trustworthy. In all actuality, it is me the employee who is the lucky one in this story.

Because I’ve invested a great deal in the relationships at Abby Connect it was not a topic to easily be swept under the rug. It was actually something to consider because the CEO felt I was valuable enough to save. Had he not trusted me I would not be writing this article for you from home today.

For those who are thinking of employing remote staff to join your organization, make excellent use of your talent acquisition manager. The hiring phase of pre-employment tests is critical. The right candidate needs to prove competent and confident in their communication skills, maintain the ability to collaborate powerfully, and be able to demonstrate both excellence and integrity. The latter being two of our core values.

Technology is Our Friend

As a company that relies 50% on technology (the other 50% is our people), it is heavily used. To keep that face-to-face interaction with coworkers, we utilize GoToMeeting. Whether it’s a one-on-one collaboration or conducting a live training class, this resource bridges gaps between home base and myself. 95% of my interactions are still face-to-face. Or, screen-to-screen rather, farming our faces within. And for those stand-up meetings turned virtual, we love Yammer to inform each other on our progress towards initiatives.

Extend the Culture

This is a big one! Especially if you’ve focused time, energy and funds towards culture, you don’t want remote employees to be left out. I know I don’t! If your remote employee started with you in-house then it’s a must to maintain that feelin’ of love from afar. If they’re new to you, then WOW them in letting them know they chose the right employer. It doesn’t cost much either.

I was totally blown away when I received a big, brown box from Abby Connect on Valentine’s Day one year. The entire inside of the box was decorated with red and pink heart stickers and wrapping paper. And the entire staff hand-made greeting cards just for me. It was such a surprise! I definitely felt the Abby Way life that day. 

Assign a Point of Contact

Out of all the advice I can give on working remotely my biggest piece is to always have a point of contact at the main office. And be “in contact” daily. This can be the person who hired the remote employee, or perhaps if they’re like me they’ve built a great relationship with another hard-core coworker. HR, a work bestie, a team leader – someone they can connect with often.

Part of what keeps engagement exciting and effective is to have projects that encourage collaboration with employees and remote workers. Synergy has the capability to occur anywhere.

If everyone has a crucial part in a project, task or initiative including your remote employee, seeing what their contribution does to the whole will inspire them to continue working for you. Plus, providing excellent work. A win-win!

Splurge on Special Occasions

Circling back to culture, our annual holiday shindig is something we all look forward to.

If you can set aside a budget to bring in your employees for a special occasion such as a holiday party or the yearly family picnic (which you should totally implement), your employee won’t only be elated but will feel that sense of belonging to a “work family”.

I eagerly await these events. They not only excite me but I get to boast about it to my friends making them wonder, “What company does she work for and how can I work there too?”

If travel is a concern then opting for a more budget-friendly alternative will suffice. On my 8th anniversary, a very large box was delivered to me. Inside were personalized gifts, letters, snacks, and my very first Tiffany bracelet. That’s right. You read that correctly. A bracelet from Tiffany’s. It made me feel so special, so appreciated and cared for. I cherish and wear it every day.

No matter what you decide to splurge on for your remote employee, whether it be travel accommodations or a knick-knack, they will feel the love and culture your company has to offer even from any distance away.

Every business has its own dynamic but the basics are the same: keep them engaged, excited and appreciated. Now, who wouldn’t want to work for a company like that?

Racquel Pankau

Racquel Pankau

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