25 Remote Team Engagement Strategies to Use in 2024

One of the most important challenges any manager faces when working with remote employees is how to keep them motivated and engaged. Many of the techniques and strategies they may be used to for in-person teams simply don’t apply. Yet with remote work, the need for effective engagement only grows. In addition, remote work is […]

by Dilyan Dimitrov

April 23, 2024

9 min read

Remove team engagement

One of the most important challenges any manager faces when working with remote employees is how to keep them motivated and engaged. Many of the techniques and strategies they may be used to for in-person teams simply don’t apply. Yet with remote work, the need for effective engagement only grows.

In addition, remote work is only set to increase from the high base established during the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in intense pressure on manager to evolve how they keep employees engaged. Ultimately, remote teams here to stay and managers need to adapt and evolve in order to meet the challenges they present.

Remote team management challenges

Industries like software development have long led the way when it comes to utilizing remote teams, but many others  are now struggling to understand and address the challenges this brings.

Addressing the challenges of remote team engagement begins with really understanding them. Firstly, many remote employees experience a higher learning curve when it comes to understanding the organization, team members, etc. Providing multiple ways for them to learn this information goes a long way to addressing that challenge.

Communication is another major hurdle. Employees should ideally have multiple ways to easily communicate, from chat to video calls. Managers should also consider the communication culture they want to cultivate and be deliberate about doing so.

The final challenge to consider revolves around information and context. Managers without remote experience may not even realize what challenges they will need to address.

That’s why it’s so important to foster regular communication and feedback, ensuring managers are aware of the challenges their employees are facing. After all, remote work and its accompanying challenges are always evolving, so only by continuously learning can managers stay on top of things.

25 Ideas for Engaging Remote Employees

While some of these tips are universally applicable, there are also some that managers of non-remote employees may not consider.

1. Set Aside Time for Casual Socialization

While it’s not essential, getting team members to like each other is a great first step to getting them engaged. But the kind of socializing that naturally happens in offices can feel impossible for virtual teams, so try scheduling an hour or so a week for people to just chat.

2. Celebrate Achievements

One of the most effective ways to turn a group of people into a real team is to celebrate milestones together. Consider making sure this happens during meetings where everyone is present and call out people who made substantial contributions to that success. Just always be sure to emphasize that the achievement was a team effort so no one feels left out.

3. Play Games

Play games at the office

Casual socialization is great, but another way to ensure less formal meetups are engaging and fun is to play games. You can find tons of great options around everything from sharing recipes to online escape rooms. 

4. Have New Team Members Present Themselves

One of the biggest challenges virtual teams face is getting to know each other, especially if people don’t work together closely. This lack of knowledge has substantial costs as people may not know who to turn to with a problem or who has specialized knowledge about a topic.

That’s why having new team members give a presentation about themselves (both personally and professionally) goes a long way to helping everyone get to know each other. Just be sure to keep those presentations so new hires can look through old ones as a part of their onboarding process.

5. Try Daily Standups

While limiting meetings is ideal -more on that later-  a short daily standup can have an outsized impact on how engaged your remote employees are. These brief meetings (usually 15 minutes or less) are about building alignment, visibility, and identifying any blockers team members may have so they can quickly be addressed. As a result, people feel like they’re on a real team because they know what’s happening and can get help when they need it.

6. Use a Tool to Schedule Meetups

Depending on the size of your team or organization, it may be difficult to get everyone together or to identify specific team members who may be able to share valuable insights with each other. But using specialized matching tools, you can automate the process of matching remote employees with others who may have similar interests or ideas, helping build bonds and unlock hidden ideas.

7. Help Provide for Better Home Offices

There’s no getting around the fact that working from an uncomfortable or poorly equipped home office is demoralizing. That’s why providing a budget to remote employees to upgrade desks, chairs, monitors, etc. can go such a long way. When people don’t feel they’re being held back by their environment or equipment, it’s easy to be engaged and motivated.

8. Invest in Employee Training and Development

When people feel they don’t have a clear career path or aren’t advancing, they’re far less likely to be engaged in their work. To tackle this, consider offering training and development resources like a general budget for certification courses or access to dedicated training resources. The benefit of doing this is twofold as it both helps upskill your team members to enhance their effectiveness and boosts engagement.

Just don’t forget to encourage people who take such courses to share their learnings with everyone afterwards to further spread the knowledge and insights they’ve gained.

9. Allow Team Members to Take Courses Together

While taking courses to develop skills and knowledge is great, having multiple team members take courses together has the added benefit of making them feel more like a team and helping people get to know one another. So consider, for example, booking an entire cohort of a certification course for members of a specific team. Thus the training becomes a kind of team building activity.

10. Meet In-Person Once a Year

Budget permitting, getting everyone together even just once a year can really boost engagement. In just a few days or hours of team building, everyone can get to know each other better. The results of those stronger bonds can then carry on throughout the year. Investing in this kind of meetup also clearly shows team members how valuable they are, further boosting engagement.

meeting in person with coworkers

11. Provide an Easy Tool for Chatting

This may not be at the top of the list but it’s absolutely fundamental. If your employees can’t easily ask questions, share wins and insights, connect on important projects, etc. then there’s little chance they’ll feel engaged. Providing everyone with a tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams is essential for success here because without good communication, remote teams will flounder.

12. Provide Clear Remote Work Guidelines

Working remotely can easily make people feel a bit lost and uncomfortable. Is it okay for them to take their dog for a walk at 2pm? How long should they take for lunch? What’s the best way to communicate any of this? The best way to avoid the discomfort people can feel around such questions is by providing very clear remote work guidelines.

13. Be Generous and Flexible

While specific guidelines are helpful, a more important overall strategy is simply being generous and flexible by trusting your employees. Don’t make them feel like someone is going to be timing every minute they’re away from their desk. By focusing on empowering your people to do their best work, you’ll get more engagement and happier employees instead of fearful and unsure ones.

14. Avoid Micromanaging

Speaking of empowering employees, whether they’re remote or not you absolutely want to avoid micromanaging them. But when employees are remote, this practice can further reinforce feelings of disconnect, lack of agency, and uncertainty, ultimately translating into disengaged and frustrated team members.

15. Ensure Managers Provide Servant Leadership

Instead of traditional command-and-control and micromanaging leadership styles, managers of remote employees should embrace servant leadership. This style is built around supporting, trusting, and empowering people by giving them the space and tools to get work done. The sense of accountability, freedom, and autonomy this creates is an ideal way to develop engaged people.

16. Limit Meetings Where Possible

Because it’s so important to empower remote employees through servant leadership, bogging them down with meetings and the resulting context switching is not a recipe for engagement. Limiting meetings further enhances the flexibility employees love about remote work, and lets you create more trust and space for meaningful work to happen.

17. Develop a Tailored Onboarding Strategy

Onboarding remote employees is always going to be different from in-person ones. That’s why it’s essential to develop an onboarding strategy specifically designed for them. In particular, you should focus on making them feel comfortable and welcome while providing clear expectations about what will be expected of them. Communication and clarity are key here!

18. Assign Mentors

A fantastic way to augment the onboarding strategy for remote employees is by assigning them a mentor. No onboarding process is ever going to be completely comprehensive. So ensuring new hires have a trusted person they can turn to with questions without having to talk to someone like a formal superior is extremely helpful.

19. Schedule Regular 1-1s

Remote employees may not feel as comfortable grabbing a few minutes with their manager to chat about something if doing so requires scheduling an actual meeting. That’s why setting aside some time every 2-4 weeks for a quick in-person check-in is so useful. This provides time for people to share what’s happening, ask questions, and for managers to get a clearer idea of what’s going on in their teams, a win-win for everyone.

20. Utilize 360 Feedback

Empowering and supporting remote employees requires really understanding what their strengths and weaknesses are. 360 feedback is an excellent way to do that, giving people feedback and insights from everyone they work with instead of just their manager. This is also a good way to communicate that everyone on the team’s input is valued, not just managers.

21. Hold Regular Retrospectives

One factor that can easily diminish employee engagement is the feeling that their team isn’t addressing its faults and working to improve. An effective way to address this is by holding retrospectives wherein people talk through what’s going well, what’s not, and brainstorm testable ideas to improve. Just note that while these can be done in a meeting, it’s best to use tools that enable asynchronous feedback as well. That way, people who may be more shy will still have their voices heard.

22. Send a Physical Gift on Occasion

Getting a physical gift, whether it’s some company merch, flowers, an edible arrangement, or a nice book, can help make remote employees feel more valued. By going above what most expect from a fully remote employer you can demonstrate a greater commitment to and investment in someone, especially when they’re a new hire.

23. Provide Funding for Health and Wellness

Besides physical gifts, providing some budget for health and wellness can help ensure employees feel healthy and engaged. After all, when employees work at capacity for too long you end up with burnout and poor retention rates. Encouraging people to pause and take care of themselves is the right thing to do and pays dividends in the long run.

24. Use a Knowledge Management System

One of the most common challenges faced by remote employees is feeling blocked because they don’t have a piece of information. Creating and maintaining a knowledge management system like a company wiki can go a long way towards addressing that challenge by providing a single source of truth and information anyone can easily search for.

25. Record Meetings and Make the Recordings or Summaries Available

Considering how capable modern AI-driven tools are at creating automatic meeting summaries, let alone the ease of simply recording meetings by default, there’s little reason not to. This can help ensure that, even if remote employees aren’t able to attend, they can easily access key information and use it to perform their duties.

A reader who loves writing, a marketer who loves tech, a nerd who loves sports. Dilyan, our resident writer, half-jokes that his days are filled with everything you can think of - except free time. He joined our team several years into his copywriting career - and he seems to feel at home here. Because, as he puts it, “there’s always cake at the office”.  If he doesn’t have his nose buried in a book, you can typically find Dilyan writing his latest piece, tinkering with his PC, or off swimming/cycling somewhere.