6 Tips on Engaging Your Remote Workforce

Businesses have increasingly been moving to expand their remote workforce, and the hardwood lumber industry has not been immune to this trend! It has now become more important than ever to boost these virtual employees’ sense of engagement with their organization. Failing to do so carries a risk that they will never acquire (or gradually lose) a sense of belonging, with a corresponding drop in morale and productivity.

The good news is, there are many ways to enhance motivation among your remote workforce. Whether you are managing a team of foresters, sawmill employees, or hardwood lumber traders, engaging your team is key. Here at Baillie Lumber, we’re always looking for opportunities to ensure these off-site employees feel that they’re a part of our team.engagingremoteworkforce

Looking to engage your remote workforce? Here are a few suggestions we found valuable to apply to your remote workforce environment:

Leverage technology to stay in touch. Staying in contact with your virtual team members is no longer a significant challenge, thanks to advanced communications technology. Explore the use of tools like Skype, Microsoft Teams, videoconferencing, and other resources to ensure these team members feel they are always keeping up with changes within the company.

Be mindful of time differences and other long-distance factors. Just as with many of your customers, the remote workforce often lives and works in different parts of the U.S. and the world. Therefore, when scheduling staff meetings or project updates, keep the disparity in time zones in mind. Also, arrange with remote team members to have them notify you of any other special circumstances regarding communications and fulfillment of projects.

Clarify goals and expectations. As with on-site team members, you want remote employees to fully grasp what is expected of them. As we have noted before, “It’s crucial to clearly define new tasks or responsibilities an employee is expected to take on while working offsite.” Again, ongoing communications is key.

Spare time for casual conversation. A great way to boost remote employee engagement is by getting to know them a little better, just as you would with employees in the physical workplace. The technology news site, iTech Post, suggests organizing “casual hangouts,” wherein you “leave some time at the end of each scheduled meeting for casual discussions” about their lives outside of work, “or set up separate friendly hangouts during the working week.” (No need to overdo this, just make clear you’re open to getting to know each other better.) 

Encourage honest feedback. You can’t really be certain how well your remote employee engagement efforts are going without some feedback from the employees themselves. At different intervals (weekly, monthly, quarterly), ask these team members how things are going for them. Do they genuinely feel like they’re part of a team? What bureaucratic obstacles, if any, are impeding delivery of their work? What else can be done to increase their sense of belonging? The comments you receive may spur changes in the company’s approach with respect to remote employees.

Be generous with praise. It doesn’t matter whether employees sit at desks five feet from your office or inhabit a home office five hundred miles away. Everyone on the team craves praise and recognition for their hard work. It’s just easier to overlook the importance of this action when employees are physically located elsewhere.

According to AllBusiness.com, “Just accepting [delivered] work and replying with more, or not responding at all, is a surefire way” to negatively impact a remote worker’s motivation. By contrast, taking time for a “simple call or email praising work can go a long way” towards greater employee engagement.

From our skilled lumber traders and yard managers to the dedicated members of our traffic and accounting teams, to the many skilled employees at our sawmills. We believe that the more engaged our employees are the more satisfied they will be in their roles and the productive our employees will be.

As workplace trends continue to change and the remote option becomes more attractive to employers, it’s necessary to pay close attention to remote worker involvement. This can lead to stronger employee recruitment and retention efforts—a key element of success in today’s competitive marketplace. 

What methods have you found effective in engaging your remote workforce? We would love to hear what has worked for you!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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