In recent years, experts everywhere have insisted that remote work was on the cusp of making offices obsolete.
However, contrary to their prognostications, the end of the office seems further away than ever.
As a result, plenty of companies are starting to realize that their employee engagement strategies must align with the new reality of hybrid work.
What's more, there must be clear-cut standards for them to develop new strategies. There are, however, some best practices that can help guide their efforts.
5 Ways to Keep Remote Workers Engaged with Office Team Members
- Collect Relevant Engagement Data
- Choose the Right Communication Standards
- Provide Time for Unstructured Conversation
- Prioritize One-on-One Meetings
- Engagement in the Real New Normal
Keep scrolling to learn about all five ways, or click above to skip to the idea you like most.
Here are some best ways to keep remote workers engaged with their in-office counterparts.
They can serve as a helpful starting point for companies just beginning to revamp their engagement strategies to accommodate hybrid work.
1. Collect Relevant Engagement Data
Data collection is the first necessary component of a sensible hybrid worker engagement strategy.
It allows valuable comparisons between the engagement levels of in-office vs. hybrid workers.
Depending on the nature of the business, a variety of engagement metrics make useful data points.
The trouble is that it takes more work to collect certain types of data regarding hybrid workers since they spend a decent amount of time working alone.
A remote employee monitoring solution is typically required to collect the data necessary to support sentiment analysis and productivity rate.
Fortunately, voluminous information is available online regarding monitoring employees working from home.
The key is to choose a platform or solution that aligns with the specific metrics you're trying to track and compare with your in-office employee cohort.
2. Choose the Right Communication Standards
One of the biggest reasons that it's often challenging to keep hybrid employees engaged with their in-office counterparts is a mismatched set of communication methods.
For example, the in-office team might be leaning heavily on in-person casual communications that the hybrid workers can't be a part of.
The hybrid workers might spend all their time in a group chat that the office workers don't often frequent.
To solve the disconnect, it's helpful to set communication standards for hybrid teams that revolve around online communication tools and methods that all team members can agree on.
To choose the proper method, simply poll team members about their preferences and then work from their responses.
If there's an overlap between the preferences of the in-office and hybrid workers, the right methodology is apparent.
And if there isn't, have the team vote on a standard communication method they can all agree to live with.
3. Provide Time for Unstructured Conversation
Another issue that often stands in the way of keeping in-office and hybrid employees engaged is a need for more time for unstructured conversation.
It is what happens when employees gather around the water cooler or in a coffee nook at various points in the day.
Without an agenda, they feel free to talk about whatever's on their mind—often leading to work-relevant and productive discussions.
For hybrid employees, most business communication involves structured conversation alone.
For example, Zoom meetings often have a presenter who controls who speaks when and for how long.
In that environment, hybrid workers don't always get an opportunity to contribute to a conversation when they have something relevant to add.
The solution is to block out time for hybrid workers to commune with their in-office counterparts for some unstructured conversation.
It can be an all-topics-welcome group chat or virtual meeting space.
Or, it can be a mandatory time for unstructured conversation added to the end of every team meeting.
The key is to give hybrid workers the same opportunities to contribute and feel connected with their teammates.
4. Prioritize One-On-One Meetings
Team leaders are also critical in keeping both in-office and hybrid workers engaged.
To aid in the effort, they can prioritize one-on-one meetings with team members to allow them to discuss their work and any concerns they may have.
Managers should also provide as much feedback to their hybrid charges as possible during one-on-ones.
It goes a long way toward replicating the feedback loop an in-office employee might get from their manager through daily interaction with them.
Constant constructive feedback boosts engagement because it helps workers know what you expect of them.
It also lets them know when they're meeting or exceeding those expectations.
That kind of clarity removes ambiguity from the equation, which is often a source of discomfort or unease among employees.
After all, it's easier to feel engaged when you're still determining what you should engage with to do your job effectively.
5. Engagement in the Real New Normal
The bottom line is that most employers are already grappling with, or will soon start grappling with, the realities of a permanently hybrid workforce.
As the labor pool continues to shrink and more workers prioritize their work-life balance above their employer's desires, that's guaranteed.
That's why businesses should now begin adapting their employee engagement strategies to accommodate hybrid workers better, whether they only have one or 100 employees that now fit that description.
Applying the tactics detailed above is an excellent place to begin those efforts.
Over time, as their experience with hybrid workers continues to grow, businesses will no doubt refine and augment these methods to arrive at a high-performance engagement strategy that meets their current and future needs.