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Checklist: How to Engage Remote Employees

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

Illustration showing a disconnected employee

Editor’s note: Check out our special COVID-related remote employee engagement update at the bottom of this article.

We’ve officially entered a brave new world: more and more workers and companies are embracing remote work as a better way to get things done.

We probably don’t need to elaborate too much on the perks of working from home – or from a cafe, or the beach, if you’re really lucky. But who doesn’t want a shortened commute time, a relaxed dress code, and the comfort of working in an environment you know well?

Still, working from home has its drawbacks, particularly when it comes to replacing the face-to-face interaction most office-bound employees enjoy on a daily basis. Video chat can go a long way in replacing this, but stripping out all physical human interaction can make remote employees feel – well, remote, and almost fully removed from the warmth of their colleagues and the flow of company information. If employees don’t feel connected to their coworkers and the company, they’re not going to be engaged; if they’re not engaged, you aren’t going to get much performance out of them.

So how do you engage your remote employees without requiring them to pack up their gear and come into the office? We’ve put together some tips to help you out.


Tools & training are key

Unfortunately, most of us are not able to communicate through the Force...but a lot of companies don’t seem to realize that. Don’t just send your workers home and leave them to (or on) their own devices: provide them with the equipment and software to get them online. What that looks like will be different for every company, but we’ve broken it down a bit here:


  • Laptops, headsets, and high-speed internet

  • Zoom, Skype, or some other messaging software

  • Access to tech support during business hours


  • Noise-canceling headphones

  • Back supports

  • Separate phone, if necessary


  • Dual monitors

  • Ergonomic chair + mat

  • A desk, if they don’t have one

But all those devices, tools, and perks aren’t going to do much if your employees don’t know how to use your chat and video apps. Remember: Just because Zoom is easy for you doesn’t mean everyone else is going to pick up on it like it’s nothing. Instead of wishing your employees luck and throwing them to the wolves, devote some time and resources to the creation of a proper training strategy.

We won’t do a deep dive into that today – we do that here – but we do suggest making the training fun, or at least deploying a more creative angle than dry how-to books usually provide. When properly developed and deployed, gamification turns a dull training session into a story featuring the employee as the hero.

Storytelling is one of the oldest tricks in humanity’s book; for thousands of years it was our primary method of transmitting morals, customs, and history to new generations. Gamification doesn’t just turn a learning moment into a glorious adventure, it also taps into that natural urge to take on the starring role.

Whether you opt to include gamification or not in your strategy, rewarding your employees with small prizes after they complete a session or module will keep things lively – think certificates, gift cards for Uber Eats, or even an hour or two of PTO. A happy employee is an engaged employee, and they’re more likely to remain engaged once their training is complete.


Keeping up company engagement

Newsflash: If your employees don’t feel included in company goings-on, they’re not going to feel engaged, either. Unfortunately, as remote work increases, so does the potential for your remote workers to feel cut off from the rest of the company. If your people aren’t engaging with each other – or worse, aren’t receiving necessary information and updates from the company itself – you’re going to see engagement plummet.

Get ahead of this trend, or better yet, prevent it entirely by making sure your remote workers have the same responsibilities and access to information that they would while they’re in the office.

1. Ensure everyone has goals to meet. Working in an office makes it easy for managers to check in on progress; you can poke your head into a cube and ask, “Hey, how’s that article coming along?” The employee can even show you what’s on their screen. Working remotely removes that element, and can lead some workers to feel like they aren’t being held accountable.

Keep them on-task by investing in project management programs, which can break even giant assignments down into bite-sized pieces, and help keep employees working toward daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly goals.

2. Pay attention to your staff! Yes, we felt that merited an exclamation point. Don’t let your workers fall “out of sight, out of mind.” Let them know they matter; maintain weekly or biweekly 1:1 meetings with everyone on your team to check in, find out what they’re working on, hear about any pain points, and go over the latest episode of The Mandalorian.

Make sure you’re looking over their work as necessary and providing the feedback they need to help them stay on track.

3. Make a department chat. You can design this chat room however you want; maybe it’s just text-based, maybe there’s a video component. If you have important updates to send out, by all means send an email...but put it in the chat, too. Your remote employees should never be the last to know about anything.

4. Remember it’s not all business. A team chat room isn’t just about announcements and work-related items, though those should certainly take precedence. But you want to keep your team occupied and interested in each other, too – studies have shown people work better when they have a connection to their coworkers, after all. Encourage them to use the team chat to get to know one another.

It’s not just a place for work communication – it’s also where they can talk about that totally awesome Hot Pocket they’re going to have for lunch.