Engaging a Remote Workforce in the Post-Pandemic World

By Patrik Wilkens, VP of Operations at TheSoul Publishing

While it’s true that the pandemic forced companies to adapt, for many employees, experiencing remote work has changed their perception of the workplace. They are discovering that working from home can benefit them emotionally, with 84% of employees stating that working remotely would make them happier.

And it’s not just a preference that employees can ‘do without,’ with 74% of them saying that having remote work options would make them less likely to leave their current employer.

Since the pandemic altered how companies operate, they must now adopt a remote working model to attract and retain talented employees.

Although attracting talent by offering remote work is vital, companies must not assume this is enough to retain them. Companies must proactively monitor and address remote employee engagement. Otherwise, they risk losing skilled and once-passionate team members as they begin to “step back” from their responsibilities.

How to determine if an employee is "stepping back"

Before discussing methods of maintaining employee engagement, it’s essential to remember that just because you can't see your employees working doesn't mean you can't stay in tune with how they're feeling.

You may observe the following behaviors in an employee that is “stepping back”:

  • Loss of originality in approaching problems
  • Lack of tolerance for dealing with unexpected issues
  • Boredom with formerly stimulating and engaging work
  • Reduced frequency of volunteering for special projects

The psychologist, Tunteeya Yamaoka, explains that reasons for stepping back include work-related exhaustion, increased childcare responsibilities, and a misalignment of their job and values.

However, if you address these reasons with the appropriate remote-employee engagement strategies, you will find fewer team members leaving your organization. Two effective methods include:

  1. Check-in frequently to openly and honestly discuss the remote employees’ progress and any obstacles they are currently facing. Remote workers who receive consistent feedback from their manager are three times more likely to be engaged.
  2. Determining if their current position is a good fit for them. Employees usually don’t often “slack” on purpose, but often simply don’t feel as engaged as before. For example, if a video designer accepts a managerial position but misses the practical side of work, their performance will decline. Remember, engage with your employees often and create an environment where these issues can be discussed without judgment.

How to keep your employees engaged

Offering remote work is an effective employee retention strategy, as happy and engaged employees are less likely to leave their jobs. To maintain this initial success, companies must understand their virtual workers’ needs.

For example, according to Owl Labs' State of Remote Work 2021 report, learning and career growth opportunities are second only to compensation and health insurance in terms of what modern employees seek from their employers.

1. Offer Career Development and Recognition

When it comes to promotions, don't overlook remote workers. 91% of employees stated that an employer that offers good career growth opportunities is important. Make sure everyone on your team receives the same treatment when it comes to performance evaluations, and don't let the convenience of remote work interfere with advancement opportunities.

Career development is only part of this strategy. You must recognize remote workers' accomplishments. Publicly acknowledge outstanding work on your internal messaging platform, and consider establishing a recognition wall for your employees' efforts.

Don’t forget about your managers. Even if they are in a more senior position, you shouldn't automatically assume that they are always feeling appreciated and engaged. Give leadership roles training, support, and recognition to help improve their performance and that of their team.

2. Provide Access to Education and Mentoring for Personal Development

Developing, educating, and mentoring your team while they are spread worldwide may seem daunting. However, it’s an aspect that can’t be ignored, as 92% of employees seek employers who offer opportunities for personal development.

To assist employees in advancing their careers and themselves, make educational opportunities available to them, whether online or on-site.

That includes company training materials and resources, which should be open to everyone. At TheSoul Publishing, we have our internal Boost education platform, where every team member has access to over 800 courses and learning materials. This includes a regular series of Masterclass events hosted by our specialist in-house trainers. As a result, TheSoul’s employees spend at least five hours a month learning new skills.

Mentorship is also key to employee engagement. When developing relationships, many people believe that being nearby is essential. However, the fundamental ingredients of successful mentoring programs are commitment, trust, relationship quality, and mentor competence, all of which can be applied to remote mentorship.

This can be done in-house, or external experts can be brought in to inject new viewpoints and approaches into the organization.

Overall, when you invest in your employees' education, they become happier, more engaged, and more likely to stay with your company as they put their newfound knowledge to use.

3. Maintaining Company Culture

Dr. Beverly Kaye, a leading authority on employee engagement, says that to remain engaged, employees must form connections both within and outside the company’s working hours. Employees with extensive and friendly internal networks are far less likely to leave a company.

To help foster internal connections, it’s important to remember that those who work from home may feel isolated from the company's values. Utilize technology to create a positive culture among remote workers through more informal virtual meetings or online get-togethers that are more about social integration than business.

To aid these external connections, consider hosting in-person engagement events for your remote employees to attend. Avoid giving corporate presentations and opt for arranging more creative ways for team members to spend time together. TheSoul recently hosted an “Under the Sea” beach party in Cyprus that brought together team members from across the globe. From jet skis to crafting to fireworks, we created a bonding experience that brought our global team closer together.

Maintaining a consistently engaged team is challenging when most of your employees are spread worldwide. But, it can be overcome by implementing a few of these techniques to help attract and retain top talent.

About the author:

Patrik Wilkens is Vice President of Operations at TheSoul Publishing. As an executive leader in the digital and entertainment industry, Wilkens brings over 14 years of experience in managing teams, growing products, and building organizations. With the scale of TheSoul Publishing continuing to accelerate, Wilkens’ leadership and extensive experience scaling companies are particularly beneficial as the studio looks to continue its exponential global growth.

Previously, Wilkens served as Vice President of Mobile at Spilgames. The company was acquired by Azerion, where he continued in the role. In charge of two development studios, Wilkens set up a centralized operational structure that streamlined key departments, including business intelligence, marketing, and technology services serving Azerion's gaming studios. In his career, he has been responsible for launching more than sixty successful products, culminating in more than 250 million installations.

At TheSoul Publishing, Wilkens collaborates with the COO in setting and driving long and short-term operational strategy. His focus is on growing additional revenue streams via brand deals and licensing, and increasing the studio’s owned and operated content portfolio via websites. Wilkens is also contributing to TheSoul Publishing's push for operational excellence by spearheading the adoption of new tools and processes.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.