How to engage your remote work force

Operational worksites have undergone dramatic change in the last 25 years, creating teams of strangers working around the clock with only fleeting encounters with their colleagues. Where progress has created new opportunities for productivity and efficiency, the age old challenge of engaging a team has become more important than ever.

Many managers with remote work forces are often wishing their teams the best for the working day ahead as they walk out the door, or talking about a possible visit in eight weeks time. Regardless of geography or the difference in time zones across the business, managers face the nearly impossible task of building meaningful engagement in exactly the same way as the local business does.  Having spent eight years working with remote work forces across Australia here are five points that I learned to help engage my remote teams.  

#1: Turn up, when it matters. 

Believing that all of your problems will be resolved during standard working hours alone may be naive, take the time to get out from behind your desk and walk through your worksite . One of the most important things that you can do is to attend and meet with your team during obscure shift times.

Take the opportunity to set your alarm clock for 03:00 am and meet your team at the start of their first shift. Talk through specific challenges facing your staff at different shift times. Turning up to site will allow you to build relationships with those team members you may not ordinarily see or talk with.

#2: Acknowledge Quickly.

Ensure that you acknowledge and communicate quickly with your teams with meaningful responses. Not doing so will leave your team feeling forgotten or ignored.

For staff that work shifts who may not have direct contact with their manager on a regular basis it is critical that they feel acknowledged and part of the team. If you’re asked a question and you are not aware of the answer take the time to acknowledge the email and advise your team member that you will get back to them with the answer in a suitable time frame.

#3: Concise and consistent communication.

Everything you say or write is open to interpretation. For staff with minimal contact with their manager, it's critical communications are understood and not misinterpreted.

Do not assume email or even the internet is always going to be the best tool for remote team members. Once your communication tools have been put in place, take the time to review your communication method. Ask yourself if the message is effective and articulated in a way to best suit the audience. Or is it falling on deaf ears with a tone and style more suitable to head office?

#4: Local can be best.

Local knowledge can be key. Community relationships can provide vital assistance in making a remote site successful. What works in a capital city, might not work everywhere. Be mindful of the local connections that your team might have to suppliers who can do a much better job than your national supplier.

Try not to be closed off to the efficiencies that your team can see and want to bring to your business. Encourage their ideas and if implemented ensure that you acknowledge the work that they have put in.

#5: Hold a regular event.

Everyone loves cake, or biscuits, or a BBQ. Use this to help grow relationships with team members that you might not see regularly. Ensure that whatever the event is it is well advertised and remains at a constant day and time. A team building event is a great opportunity to not only connect but also create a more productive and enjoyable work space for your entire team.

Operational business HR is complex and demanding, and there are no shortcuts. Experience taught this author the benefits of engaging team members in a genuine way, with whatever tools your employer provides. For those readers who face the daily task of working out if staff are early or late in their local timezone, consider how to ensure team members remain engaged with their peers, managers and ultimately the company.

Genuinely connect with your staff and create not only a more productive work place but also an enjoyable one for your entire team in what can only be described as challenging work places in this day and age.

Dan Jones - Managing Partner Teamfinder 

About Teamfinder

Teamfinder is a recruitment company which connects great businesses with great candidates, we like to do things a little differently so we also offer comprehensive training packages, fixed rate recruitment, and most importantly we help save you time and money.

If you would like to know more about how Teamfinder can support your business with your next recruitment needs then get in touch with us either through our website at via email at or give us a call on 07 3268 2452


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