Engaging remote workers is important because it can have a significant impact on their well-being, job satisfaction, motivation, and performance. But what does the research say about remote work engagement? We gathered results from studies conducted by researchers from various institutions and backgrounds, and their findings were published in peer-reviewed academic journals. The sources provide a diverse range of perspectives and insights on engaging remote workers. Let’s dive in!
Let’s start at the beginning…
Work engagement was first studied in the late 1980s by Wilmar Schaufeli and Arnold Bakker, who developed the concept and measurement of work engagement as a positive, fulfilling, and work-related state of mind characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption (Schaufeli, Salanova, González-Romá, & Bakker, 2002). Their research was based on the job demands-resources model, which posits that job demands (such as workload or time pressure) can lead to burnout, while job resources (such as autonomy or social support) can lead to work engagement (Bakker & Demerouti, 2014). Since then, work engagement has been extensively studied by researchers in various fields, including organizational psychology, management, and human resources.
Benefits of engaged remote workers…
When remote workers feel that their work is meaningful and that they are making a valuable contribution to their organization, they are more likely to remain motivated and committed to their work (Saks, 2006). Engaging remote workers is crucial for their productivity and motivation because it helps to create a sense of connection, motivation, and job satisfaction. For example, remote workers who feel engaged and connected to their work and their colleagues are more productive and have a greater sense of job satisfaction (Berg, Wrzesniewski, & Dutton, 2013; Ghislieri et al., 2018).
More recent studies show that remote workers who feel connected to their work and their colleagues are more likely to experience positive outcomes such as increased job satisfaction, better mental health, and higher levels of work engagement (Lin et al., 2021; Yu, Lu, & Liu, 2021). Engaged workers are more likely to put forth discretionary effort and go above and beyond their job duties, which can lead to improved job performance (Kammeyer-Mueller & Wanberg, 2021). In addition, engagement can also help to retain remote workers. Engaged remote workers are less likely to leave their jobs, which can reduce turnover and associated costs (Bianchi et al., 2021).
Top 10 Strategies to Engage Remote Workers
The Top 10 List!
Following is our list of recent findings on remote engagement. These are in no particular order, for we think they are all important. We’ve simply numbers for ease of reading and to add a flare of excitement. We recognize that this is not an exhaustive list since this article is already a 15 min read. Think of it as a highlight reel to pique your interest into the exciting world of remote employee engagement strategies. Enjoy!
10. Provide Structured Feedback
Providing structured feedback can help remote workers understand their performance expectations and how they can improve. De Leede et al. (2020) observed that remote workers who receive frequent feedback are better able to understand their performance expectations, identify areas for improvement, and feel more supported in their work. Results suggest that remote workers who receive feedback on a regular basis are more likely to feel engaged and committed to their work, which can lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
The results suggest that the quality of feedback is also important. For example, provide specific, actionable feedback that is tailored to the individual needs of each remote worker, rather than generic or vague feedback that may not be helpful. This can help remote workers to better understand their strengths and weaknesses and improve their performance over time.
9. Encourage Autonomy
Encouraging employee autonomy can help remote workers feel empowered and motivated. Gupta et al. (2019) conducted a study on the impact of autonomy on the job performance and well-being of remote workers. Findings suggest that when remote workers are given autonomy, they experience a sense of control over their work, which can lead to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and productivity. The researchers discovered that autonomy can positively impact the mental health and well-being of remote workers, as it reduces stress and enhances feelings of self-worth and personal accomplishment.
It is important to note that the results of the study suggests that remote workers require a certain level of structure and support in order to effectively exercise autonomy. Provide clear guidelines and expectations, as well as regular feedback and communication, to ensure that remote workers are able to make informed decisions and take ownership of their work in a productive and effective manner.
8. Use Collaborative Technologies
Collaborative technology refers to the tools and platforms that facilitate communication and collaboration among remote workers. Using collaborative technology can help remote workers feel more connected to their colleagues and increase their sense of teamwork. Consider using collaborative tools, such as project management software, instant messaging apps, and online document sharing to facilitate communication and collaboration among remote workers. Perin (2021) confirmed that the use of collaborative technologies can help to increase productivity and efficiency among remote workers, as well as facilitate knowledge sharing and innovation.
Findings also suggest that over-reliance on collaborative technologies can lead to burnout and fatigue among remote workers. Therefore, it is recommended that organizations implement a balanced approach to the use of collaborative technologies in remote work settings. This includes providing appropriate training and support for remote workers to effectively use these technologies, while also promoting healthy work practices, such as taking regular breaks and maintaining work-life balance.
7. Provide Opportunities for Professional Development
Providing opportunities for professional development can help remote workers stay engaged and motivated. Nunes et al. (2020) conducted a study on the impact of professional development opportunities on the engagement and well-being of remote workers. The results show that providing opportunities for professional development can have a significant positive impact on remote worker engagement, motivation, and career satisfaction. Finding suggest that remote workers who are given opportunities to learn new skills and advance in their careers are more likely to feel supported and valued by their organizations.
Professional development opportunities can also help remote workers to stay up-to-date with industry trends and best practices, and increase their job satisfaction and confidence. The results suggest that organizations should prioritize professional development for remote workers by investing in training and development programs, creating career development plans, and offering mentorship opportunities. By doing so, they can help to promote the career growth and job satisfaction of their remote workers, while also improving their own organizational performance.
Here’s an idea…sign your team up for our Remote Professional Certification to serve as this year’s professional development strategy.
6. Encourage Virtual Social Interaction
Encouraging virtual social interaction can help remote workers feel connected to their colleagues and reduce feelings of isolation (Camp, Young, & Bushardt, 2022). Virtual social interactions, such as video conferences or virtual coffee breaks, can foster a sense of community. Yu, Lu, & Liu (2021) studied virtual social interaction such as online team building activities, informal communication channels, and virtual social events, and discovered they can help remote workers to build relationships with their colleagues and feel more connected to their organization. This can lead to increased job satisfaction and well-being, as remote workers feel more supported and engaged in their work.
The results also suggest that the quality of virtual social interaction is important. Virtual social interaction should be genuine and authentic, rather than forced or contrived. It should also be inclusive and accessible to all remote workers, regardless of their location or time zone. For more, read our article: Time Zone Differences, Not a Problem for Remote!
The results of the study suggests that organizations should prioritize virtual social interaction by providing opportunities for remote workers to connect with their colleagues and build relationships. This can include virtual team building activities, informal communication channels, and virtual social events. By promoting virtual social interaction, organizations can help to promote the job satisfaction and well-being of their remote workers, while also improving their own organizational performance.
5. Promote Work-Life Balance
Promoting work-life balance can help remote workers feel supported and valued. Kammeyer-Mueller and Wanberg (2021) explored the impact of work-life balance on the job performance and well-being of remote workers. The results suggest that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial for remote worker engagement, job satisfaction, and well-being. Remote workers who are able to effectively manage their work and personal responsibilities tend to experience less stress and burnout, and are more productive and engaged in their work. The results also suggest that remote workers who have greater control over their work schedules are better able to achieve a healthy work-life balance, which can lead to improved mental health and well-being.
Achieving work-life balance can be challenging for remote workers, as work and personal boundaries can become blurred. Actively promote healthy work practices and encourage remote workers to take breaks and prioritize self-care. The researchers also recommends that organizations provide resources and support for remote workers, such as flexible work schedules, mental health resources, and access to wellness programs, to help them achieve and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Organizations can support work-life balance by promoting flexible schedules, encouraging breaks, and providing resources for mental health and wellness (Lin et al., 2021). This can also include flexible work hours and the ability to take time off when needed (Gajendran & Harrison, 2020). Offer resources and support for mental and physical health such as include wellness programs, access to counseling services, and health insurance (Chow & Wang, 2019).
4. Foster an Inclusive Culture
Fostering an inclusive culture can help remote workers feel valued and included in the organization. Ramirez (2019) explored the impact of diversity and inclusion on remote worker engagement and well-being. Research suggests fostering an inclusive culture can have a significant positive impact on remote worker engagement, job satisfaction, and well-being. Remote workers who feel valued and included in the organization are more likely to feel motivated and committed to their work. Promoting diversity and inclusion can lead to a more innovative and creative work environment, as diverse perspectives and experiences are brought to the table.
Promote a culture of openness and respect, encourage collaboration and communication among team members, and ensure that all remote workers have equal access to resources and opportunities. Also, managers can actively promote diversity and inclusion through their actions and decisions, and ensure that remote workers feel supported and empowered to share their perspectives and ideas. By doing so, they can create a more inclusive and engaged remote work environment where everyone feels they belong.
3. Foster a Culture of Collaboration
While collaborative technologies can facilitate collaboration among remote workers, it is only one component of fostering a collaborative culture. This can include promoting open communication, encouraging knowledge sharing, building trust among team members, and recognizing and rewarding collaborative behavior. A collaborative culture creates an environment in which remote workers feel supported and empowered to work together as a team. To truly promote collaboration, organizations need to create a culture that values and supports teamwork, and provides remote workers with the tools, resources, and support they need to work together effectively.
Fostering a culture of collaboration can help remote workers feel valued and supported. Sarker et al. (2020) determined that fostering a culture of collaboration is essential for remote worker engagement, motivation, and productivity. A collaborative culture helps remote workers to feel valued and supported, and enables them to work together effectively as a team. The study suggests that organizations can promote collaboration through various strategies, such as providing training and resources for collaboration technology, setting clear expectations for communication and teamwork, and recognizing and rewarding collaborative behavior.
2. Send Employee Engagement Surveys
Conduct regular employee engagement surveys to gather feedback from remote workers about their experiences and identify areas for improvement. For example, Golden, Veiga, and Dino (2020) studied the impact that telecommuting (working remote) had a significant impact on job satisfaction on research participants. Results from this study indicate that a moderate amount of telecommuting (1-3 days per week) is associated with higher job satisfaction, while more frequent telecommuting (4 or more days per week) is associated with lower job satisfaction. They suggest that in some cases, organizations should consider implementing a hybrid model of remote work that includes some in-office work to maximize job satisfaction among remote workers.
Everyone wants to be heard and know their voice matters. By gathering feedback directly from employees, organizations can gain insights into how to better support their employees, increase job satisfaction, and reduce turnover.
1. Recognize and Reward Achievements
Recognizing and rewarding remote workers for their achievements can have a significant positive impact on their job satisfaction, motivation, and well-being. Bianchi et al. (2021) conducted a study on the impact of recognition and rewards on the job satisfaction and well-being of remote workers. The researchers observed that remote workers who receive recognition and rewards for their contributions feel valued and appreciated by their organization, which can increase their motivation and engagement. Rewards and incentives can also help to promote healthy competition and goal-setting among remote workers, and encourage them to take ownership of their work.
The results suggest that the type and frequency of rewards and recognition are important. Consider providing rewards and recognition that are meaningful and relevant to remote workers’ job roles and career goals. In addition, they should offer rewards and recognition on a regular basis to promote a culture of appreciation and recognition.
As a result of the study, organizations should consider developing recognition and reward programs for remote workers that align with their goals and values. This can include incentives such as bonuses, promotions, or public recognition, as well as non-monetary rewards such as flexible work arrangements or additional training opportunities.
Offering recognition and rewards for non-work-related activities can help remote workers feel appreciated and supported (Pitt-Catsouphes & Matz-Costa, 2021). Consider acknowledging remote workers’ personal achievements and offer rewards or incentives for their contributions to the community or charity organizations.
If you have conducted research in remote work and would like us to share it, feel free to contact us. Our goal is to further the field of remote work!
For more research-based training on remote workplace engagement, sign up for our Remote Professional Certification. In this certification track, we devote a whole course to engagement in our PACE Model.
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