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How to Drive Participation and Engagement with a Remote Workforce

Posted by Michael Cromwell

Mar 19, 2020

Even a remote workforce can be a dynamic and engaged one.

Teams of employees have moved from cubicles to collaboration spaces, and now they are moving to a remote environment where many of them work separately from others. This could be the result of offshoring, building teams where you find the best talent even if they are not local, or because the pandemic du jour is driving the principle of social distancing.

While software from Zoom and others can make it possible to hold virtual events with very little specialized equipment, there are manufacturers like Poly that will offer upgraded devices to make your meetings and events really striking. All this gear won’t make you a better manager and it can’t make your employees focus.

Below are four tips that can help you utilize your management skills with a remote workforce.

Interactive Meetings

It can be challenging for leaders who are accustomed to face to face feedback to try to use their same trick on a remote group. Of course, you can’t, but there are things you can do to make these meetings more engaging. In his LinkedIn article, William Balvanz of Voyant drives home the point that interaction is crucial by saying “feedback is important to be sure your meeting was of value.”

You can obtain feedback by actually asking direct questions to your attendees. If you can, distribute the topics across all of the team members on the meeting and have each one present for a few minutes each. And change it up by asking random people their thoughts on a given subject. You cannot run an interactive meeting as if you are delivering a sermon.

 “At various points in your presentation, you should stop speaking… This simple solution alone can help break up the sermon.” - William Balvanz

Consistent One on Ones

Even if you don’t actually meet face to face, you should not stop holding your one on ones on your normal intervals (if not more frequently). Cover what you have to, but be particularly focused on what is working for them, and what is not. Control the things you can (if they need to purchase a better headset, for instance) and empathize about the things you can’t. A sudden move to remote work can be very stressful and any uncertainty makes this worse. You should use point to point video whenever possible so you have what amounts to face to face contact.

Your one on ones may have been a very predictable practice before, make sure it remains consistent. Anything you can do to smooth the bumps in the road will be appreciated.

Contests

At the time of this writing the NCAA Tournament has been canceled and we are a long way away from fantasy football time. So what can you do during the months and weeks ahead. Contests are a good way to drive performance of one kind or another and offer a reward for most improved, best salesperson, etc. These are pretty standard and you probably already do something similar. 

Try to look at other things to evaluate, like social media presence. With most of the world’s workforce online, LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Instagram are more important than before. You can set up contests to increase social media engagement, which can help your staff become more recognizable. 

You can also do a weight-loss or wellness program. The Harvard Business Review looked closely at the ROI on Weight Loss at Work, like reduced health care risks and fewer sick days of absence.

And yet another great approach is one that was deployed recently by a client of Prodoscore, who has developed an employee productivity software that enables businesses to measure utilization of software such as Unified Communications, Collaboration, and CRM. During a recent video blog interview with The UC Buyer, Crisantos Hajibrahim, Chief Evangelist with Prodoscore, shared some insights from a recent study completed by Jon Arnold, Principal at J Arnold & Associates, as well as sharing how many of their clients are implementing a scoring system.  In other words applying gamification to the use of productivity software.

“We have to make sure that people are using it, and that’s where the scoring comes in.  We’ve seen a huge correlation - we realized a 100% increase in adoption from one particular customer,” according to Crisantos. “When Prodoscore was deployed, they weren’t using the tools. Now that the employees get points for using the software, everyone is using it.  If they don’t use it, they don’t get credit.” 

Any way you put it, a little bit of healthy competition keeps your team members feeling more like a team.

Remote Team Building Events

Finally, team building events have been a mainstay of groups for decades, but all the traditional activities seem impossible when you are not in the same place.

Time Doctor has a great article about virtual team building activities that offers a lot of advice. One idea I thought was especially unique was the idea of a Live Remote Office, where you have a video chat get together. For a non-video alternative, set up a Skype, Slack, or Discord open chat to keep up the familiar office banter.

zoom-team-meeting-virtualCompanies like Zoom are making it easier for users to adopt video conferencing by creating an easy to use and intuitive interface combined with the features that create a more immersive experience for users. Just last week, they announced the addition of a virtual background feature to their platform, which enables Zoom customers to change the backgrounds to spice up remote calls.  According to Kevin Thomsen, Leader of Master Agent Channel Partners, in an interview this week with The UC Buyer “It just works and it is so simple. You have to look at trends, and ease of use.  It’s built for the millennial, which is where the entire workforce is going.”

If you have any doubt about how users are quickly adopting the new feature, just check out Zoom’s recent posts on their Twitter account, @Zoom_us, where you’ll see Zoom customers tweeting about their virtual experiences in the new reality of virtual events.

Conclusion

The workplace is changing, and the time tested skills you have honed through the years will necessarily need to be updated. You can still engage with your remote workers in ways that can keep you in charge of a productive team.

 

Topics: Technology, cloud, collaboration, telecommuting, Skype for Business, Huddle Rooms, Meeting Rooms, Training, Events, Customer Journey, Homepage, leadership

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