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How Do Fully Distributed Teams Promote Genuine Employee Engagement?

Fully distributed teams and remote work environments are becoming more prevalent, especially in this digital age. A study highlighted the importance of maintaining employee engagement practices for fully distributed teams as a critical aspect of remote team management.

Continuing to engage your team members offers numerous benefits, including improved productivity, better morale, and overall job satisfaction. So, how can we promote genuine employee engagement in a fully distributed team? Let’s find out.

Making Your Remote Team Feel Involved

Remote employment provides flexibility and convenience that are beneficial for both companies and employees. However, it also presents challenges in maintaining team cohesion and engagement. Managers need to adapt to these changes and find ways to make remote employees feel valued, motivated, and a part of the team.

Research suggests that proper communication is an essential factor in promoting employee engagement. Regular check-ins, feedback sessions, information sharing, and open discussions can lead to increased trust and harmonious relationships.

  • For their regular check-ins, try using video calls to mimic face-to-face interaction to reduce feelings of isolation. In this scenario, tool recommendations such as Jitsi Meet might be useful.
  • Choose a collaborative environment where your team can contribute and feel a sense of ownership and importance. For task management, tools like notion.so can be helpful.

In the words of Peter Drucker,

“The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”

This is even more relevant in a remote work scenario where leaders need to be intuitive and understanding of their team’s sentiments and concerns. Hence, each communication exchange should have an empathetic and supportive tone to facilitate engagement.

5 Steps to Foster Employee Engagement in Fully Distributed Teams

Maintaining a high level of employee engagement is an ongoing process, and adopting these five steps can guide you in creating an engaging remote work environment.

  1. Create a supportive digital work environment: Equip your team with the appropriate tools and resources for effective remote work. Providing an infrastructure that supports collaboration and smooth workflow enhances productivity and engagement.
  2. Set clear expectations: Having well-defined goals and actionable tasks eliminates confusion and stress among team members. It also reinforces a sense of accountability that helps in self-management. Further insights on this can be obtained from this article.
  3. Promote a flexible work schedule: Unlike traditional workspaces, fully distributed teams often work in different time zones. Employers should embrace this flexibility by allowing team members the freedom to select their most productive working hours.
  4. Encourage social interaction: A sense of belonging and a strong team bond contribute highly to employee engagement. Managers should facilitate virtual group activities, casual chats, and team-building sessions to nurture a unified team spirit. Check this article for examples.
  5. Recognize and appreciate: Everyone likes to be appreciated for their hard work. Regularly recognizing employees boosts morale, motivation, and ultimately engagement. Managers should use creative ways to show gratitude, such as virtual award ceremonies or featuring employees in newsletters.

“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment – that which they cannot anticipate” – Sun Tzu.

In the context of fully distributed teams, that extraordinary moment could be the spontaneous coffee break chat or the virtual game night that breaks the monotony and fosters genuine engagement.

FAQs Related to Employee Engagement for Fully Distributed Teams

There are often a few recurrent questions regarding promoting genuine employee engagement in fully distributed teams. Here are explanations for some of those.

What is employee engagement?

It’s the level of an employee’s commitment, involvement, and enthusiasm for their work. It is reflected in their motivation, productivity, and active participation in achieving organizational goals.

How does employee engagement affect companies?

High employee engagement boosts company performance, productivity, and profitability. It leads to lower staff turnover, greater customer satisfaction, and a positive work culture.

How can we measure employee engagement in a fully distributed team?

Employee surveys, one-on-one meetings, team discussions, and performance data are efficient methods. Also, observing the frequency and quality of employee participation in team activities can provide valuable insights.

Why is promoting employee engagement more difficult in a fully distributed team?

Remote employees often report feelings of isolation and disconnect, which can hamper engagement. In the absence of physical interaction, managers need to be more proactive in facilitating team bonding and maintaining open communication.

Current Market Scenario

The trend towards remote work has accelerated in recent years; the COVID-19 pandemic played an undeniable role in this change. According to Gallup’s research, about 56% of U.S. workers were working remotely all or part of the time by the end of 2020. As a result of this shift towards remote work, the demand for employee engagement strategies for fully distributed teams has significantly increased.

Case Study: Toptal

Toptal, a leading global talent network providing freelancers to companies, has been a fully remote company since its inception. They credit their successful remote model to several employee engagement strategies like encouraging clear communication, nurturing a strong culture, offering continuous learning opportunities, and more.

Toptal’s experience echoes the idea that investing time and resources in promoting employee engagement in a fully distributed team is not only possible but crucial for the overall success of an organization.


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