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6 Great Hacks to Build Engagement in Your Online Team

6 Great Hacks to Build Engagement in Your Online Team

We live in an increasingly globalized world, and it’s changing the way we work. Where businesses used to be confined to hiring from their local area, they now have access to talent from Australia to Zambia and virtually anywhere in between.

Entire projects, entire teams, or entire companies, may operate through telecommuting and work entirely online. Eliminating travel time, letting people work in a comfortable home environment, and even letting them choose their own hours can delight staff, and allow them to achieve a work-life balance.

However, there’s one major problem that remote workers face: isolation.

If your employees are scattered all over the world, they’re likely to be lacking in social interaction. In a good workplace environment, your coworkers are more than just fellow employees; you’re a “team”. Workers who feel a sense of belonging and engagement are much more likely to love what they do, and to work harder. While many office workers dream of working from home, many telecommuters miss the feeling of connection that they get from being in an office.

You may have heard of a psychological theory called Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

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    Maslow theorizes that socializing with others is a fundamental human need. Self-esteem and self-actualization are also closely linked with human contact; the serotonin rush that comes with being told that you’re doing a good job is much more meaningful when there’s a face attached to that feedback.

    In short, keep people hunched over a computer alone for months or even years on end, and they’re not going to be happy campers.

    So, what can we do about it?

    1. Build a Community

    Make your remote staff feel like part of your company’s community, and ensure that they get to know each other and the non-remote staff.

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    By building up company culture, and proactively involving remote workers, you can help them to feel like they’re part of something bigger. Put staff profiles up on your company’s intranet, and include remote workers in the profiles. You could even consider using a service like Yammer to encourage team communication.

    2. Blog

    Many companies that hire freelance or remote workers use the company blog to keep remote workers interested and engaged.

    They’ll publish profiles of workers on their blog, articles published by those workers, pictures from the cities that they live, and so on. It’s a great way to encourage your remote workers to put faces to their teammates’ names and get to know each other as people!

    3. Facebook Groups

    Start a Facebook chat group for the team, where people can bounce ideas off each other, and also get to know each other. Many project managers only use e-mail to communicate with their team, and in an entirely top-down way.

    The result of that strategy is that the team members mean nothing more than a name and an e-mail address to each other. If you create a Facebook group, your team members may even send each other friend requests; nothing builds team engagement like seeing pictures of each other’s cats/children/lunch.

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    4. Recognize your remote workers’ achievements

    Lack of recognition can be a major drawback to working from home: remote workers frequently complain of being passed over for promotions because nobody in the office knows who are or what they do.

    Business News Daily suggests creating a system of virtual badges or rewards. One way to implement this to create profiles on the intranet for all staff, remote or otherwise, that show what badges/rewards they have achieved.

    5. Give remote workers opportunities for growth – and encourage them to come into the office!

    Let them know what room for growth there is in your company for remote workers, and also what potential there is to become an on-site worker in the future. Training opportunities that can be completed online are an ideal way to allow these workers to still make progress in their career while maintaining a telecommuting lifestyle, but also make sure that they are aware of training opportunities within the office if they live nearby.

    If they’re doing the same task every day, and there are other telecommuting tasks that they could be doing, let them mix it up a bit so that they can reduce boredom and learn new skills.

    Are there some tasks that are only being done on-site at present, that could be done by your telecommuting staff? Great managers and great companies are committed to nurturing their staff’s potential; this can be a bit more tricky with remote workers, but being a bit creative can really pay off in terms of engagement and staff retention. Who doesn’t want committed, highly skilled staff who love their work?

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    Also, if your staff is mostly located within the local area, you could offer part-telecommuting jobs. A 2014 Gallup poll found that staff who telecommuted less than 20% of the time were more engaged that the average on-site worker, but “active disengagement” with one’s company increased as this percentage increased, to the extent that staff working entirely from home “are nearly twice as likely to be actively disengaged (23%) compared with those who telecommute less than 20% of the time (12% actively disengaged)”.

    So if you want happier workers, part-time telecommuting is a great way to achieve that, but if you can, bring them into the office at least sometimes. Isolated, miserable workers are a high price to pay, and face-time at the office is a great remedy.

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      6. Socialize!

      You probably already have a strategy for engaging your on-site team, such as pizza nights, etc. Make sure that your remote staff are aware of these events and feel welcome. If your remote workers are simply too remote for this to be practical, you can still work on other ways that they can get to know each other. For example, having video meetings is a great way to brainstorm new ideas and make valuable new connections.

      You could dedicate an initial meeting to introducing each other, and playing the usual games that you’d use in an office to promote collaborative teamwork. In future meetings, try to encourage staff to talk about subjects other than just the task at hand: if your team members know each other as people, they’ll naturally be more engaged with the team and with their work.

      Building a team who love their work and who feel engaged with their fellow team members can sometimes be a challenge even when they’re sitting in the same office, but much more so when they rarely or never get any face-time with each other. However, taking the time to create a strategy for engaging your remote workers is a win-win; telecommuters who work in an environment that support their need for interaction and engagement will be happier, healthier, and far more productive.

      Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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      Lara Silbert

      Freelance content writer & University of Western Australia postgraduate student

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      Last Updated on July 10, 2019

      30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

      30 Best Procrastination Quotes to Get You Back to Work

      What do your 3pm fridge raid and perfectly alphabetised bookshelf have in common?

      You most likely did both of them when you should have been doing work.

      Procrastination is one of the most human behaviours. We’re all guilty of putting off what we know is important from time to time, and it seems the more pressing the task at hand, the better we are at avoiding it.

      Sure, it means that every time we have an important deadline we end up with a spotlessly clean house and a completely empty inbox, but the real work gets left until the very last minute and is finished in a frenzy of stress and caffeine.

      But we can gain control over procrastination by noticing it as soon as possible and stopping it in its tracks. On the contrary, you know you have a bad habit when you’re aware you’re putting something off, and you continue avoiding it anyway.

      To start you off with combating procrastination, here are a few quotes to get you in a motivated frame of mind, because if procrastination has any enemies, it’s motivation to work harder.

      A Few Home Truths

        “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well.”
        ― Mark Twain


        “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
        ― Leonardo da Vinci


        “Someday is not a day of the week.”
        ― Janet Dailey


        “Success is not obtained overnight. It comes in instalments; you get a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow until the whole package is given out. The day you procrastinate, you lose that day’s success.”
        ― Israelmore Ayivor


        “The man who waits to know everything is the man who never does anything.”
        ― Craig D. Lounsbrough


        “Procrastination is like going to a fancy restaurant and filling up on bread and not leaving enough room for dinner.”
        ― Richie Norton, The Power of Starting Something Stupid: How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret


        “Procrastination is the lazy cousin of fear. When we feel anxiety around an activity, we postpone it.”
        ― Noelle Hancock, My Year with Eleanor


        “Doing things at the last minute reminds us of the importance of doing things at the first minute.”
        ― Matshona Dhliwayo


        “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”
        ― Abraham Lincoln


        “A day can really slip by when you’re deliberately avoiding what you’re supposed to do.”
        ― Bill Watterson, There’s Treasure Everywhere


        “By what right do I, who have wasted this day, make claims on tomorrow?”
        ― Alain-Fournier, Le Grand Meaulnes


        “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
        ― José N. Harris


        Some Practical Advice

          “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
          ― Hilary Mantel


          “Thinking too much leads to paralysis by analysis. It’s important to think things through, but many use thinking as a means of avoiding action.”
          ― Robert Herjavec, The Will To Win: Leading, Competing, Succeeding


          “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”
          ― Pablo Picasso


          “It is only by working the rituals, that any significant degree of understanding can develop. If you wait until you are positive you understand all aspects of the ceremony before beginning to work, you will never begin to work.”
          ― Lon Milo DuQuette, The Magick of Aleister Crowley: A Handbook of the Rituals of Thelema


          “Do first what you don’t want to do most.”
          ― Clifford Cohen


          “How often do you find yourself saying, “In a minute”, “I’ll get to it” or “Tomorrow’s good enough” and every other possible excuse in the book? Compare it with how often you decide it’s got to be done, so let’s get on and do it! That should tell you just how serious your procrastinating problem really is.”
          ― Stephen Richards, The Secret of Getting Started: Strategies to Triumph over Procrastination


          “How to stop procrastinating starts with believing you can overcome procrastination.”
          ― Robert Moment, How to Stop Procrastinating


          “Never put things off…you will wake up and find them gone.”
          ― James Jones


          Some Tough Love

            “Do something instead of killing time. Because time is killing you.”
            ― Paulo Coelho, Aleph


            “If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you’ll find you’ve done it.”
            ― George Bernard Shaw


            “If you want to get ahead in life, I’ve found that perhaps the most useless word in the world is “tomorrow.”
            ― José N. Harris


            “What is deferred is not avoided.”
            ― Thomas More


            “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work”
            ― Chuck Close


            “If you always do what is easy and choose the path of least resistance, you never step outside your comfort zone. Great things don’t come from comfort zones.”
            ― Roy Bennett


            “Your ideas have legs and just as they run through your head, they could be running through someone else’s head and it’s just a matter of who gets to the finish line first. Nothing is new under the sun so act on your ideas.”― Sanjo Jendayi


            “You may not be punished for your procrastination, but for sure you will be punished by your procrastination.”
            ― Debasish Mridha


            When You Need Pulling out of Procrastination

              “Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can’t buy more hours. Scientists can’t invent new minutes. And you can’t save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow.”
              ― Denis Waitley


              “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
              ― Karen Lamb


              Print these quotes out, stick them on the wall in front of your desk – do whatever it takes to remember why you shouldn’t be putting your work off, or getting distracted by a desire to rearrange your socks into colour order.

              It won’t be easy, but being aware of how detrimental procrastination is to your longer-term goals is the first step towards overcoming it.

              More Motivational Quotes

              Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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