Well over half of all workers aged between 22 and 65 claim to work remotely at least some of the time, and about 16 percent of all companies around the world are fully remote. Remote work brings all sorts of advantages to employers and employees — lower costs, higher productivity — but there is one notable challenge for business leaders managing remote staff: engagement.
Workforce engagement is not easy even when employees share an office space with their managers, so when leaders and workers have even less interaction as a result of remote arrangements, engagement can feel essentially impossible. Fortunately, there are more than a few tech tools to make remote engagement a reality. Here is a guide to leveraging technology to keep a remote workforce close and content.
Extended reality and virtual reality are extremely promising technologies, especially for those looking to manage an increasingly remote workforce. The metaverse — the popular name for the immersive virtual world which is likely to develop over the coming years — offers dozens of advantages to employers of remote workers, who can organize virtual office spaces and meeting rooms where leaders and employees can enjoy more realistic interpersonal interaction. Virtual reality allows workers to be dispersed around the world but to feel that they are physically sharing the same space.
Of course, there are some downsides to virtual reality. At present, the most pressing shortcoming of the metaverse is its meager development. Though tech companies and futurists fervently believe that the metaverse will become a thriving virtual space filled with the same opportunities as the physical world, no individual metaverse currently has such capability. On top of this, privacy concerns and lack of access make virtual reality difficult for many organizations. Still, business leaders with large remote workforces should pay close attention to metaverse news to leverage the tech when it becomes appropriate to do so.
Until virtual reality is better developed, business leaders will need to use more established technologies to stay in contact with their remote workforce. Fortunately, video conferencing and text chat services are better than they have ever been, providing faster and easier connections between leaders and workers. Some of the best tools in these categories include:
Google Hangouts. An exceedingly affordable option ideal for startups, freelancers and enterprises already invested in the Google Workspace, this video conferencing solution can host up to 25 participants at a time.
Zoho. A conferencing tool that scales easily and makes recording simple, Zoho can support up to 250 meeting attendees and will store more than 200 sessions.
High Five. One of the most advanced video conferencing services, this service can provide HD video and Dolby Voice, and users can connect to meeting rooms through other conferencing tools like Zoom and Lifesize.
Slack. This is the most dominant team communication app for a reason. Slack is intuitively organized to keep different conversations easily accessible, so the entire remote workforce can stay in clear, constant contact.
The backbone of employee engagement is recognition. All workers, whether they come into the office or work remotely, want their contributions to be seen and appreciated by their peers and superiors; unfortunately, remote workers’ effort and enthusiasm are often overlooked by leaders and coworkers. The right employee recognition platform can help an organization offer praise and rewards to employees who have earned them, regardless of their presence in the office. Recognition platforms can track employee metrics that matter to satisfaction, morale and other essentials that contribute to engagement and performance. Leaders can dole out recognition as they see fit — through formal or informal awards and praise — as long as remote workers feel equally recognized and appreciated.
The remote workforce has the exact same needs as the in-person workforce — but fulfilling those needs can be a bit more difficult for business leaders, especially those leaders who tend to use traditional tactics and solutions. Technology is essential for engaging the remote workforce, so the sooner leaders experiment with different applications and services, the sooner they can find the solutions that will keep their remote workforce easily engaged.