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CONNECTIONS

An Edelman perspective on making meaningful employee
connections that deepen engagement, build trust
and accelerate business performance

SEPTEMBER 2015

REMOTE BUT NOT ALONE

FOUR TIPS FOR ENGAGING REMOTE EMPLOYEES
By Jenna Wollemann, Senior Account Executive
Picture an employee working remotely. Are you envisioning someone in their pajamas, answering emails from
their couch? Taking conference calls from bed? This is an outdated stereotype that doesn’t accurately describe
those who work outside the corporate office, a population that Global Workplace Analytics estimates has
grown by nearly 80 percent since 2005. These are employees who are constantly on-the-go, telecommunicating
from coffee shops, making sales calls on the road and interacting with colleagues they’ve never met in person.
Remote employees’ physical work environments vary
greatly - from coffee shops to home offices to cars for
those in field sales - but these workers have one thing in
common: Since they are often geographically
dispersed and not bound together by a conventional
office structure, they often miss out on the opportunities
for camaraderie and collaboration with their
colleagues that come more naturally in office settings.
Remote workers may never physically meet many of
the people they interact with every day or get inperson face time with their managers.

Many discovered their
questions or issues related
ambassadors helped find
through their relationship
team.

Human beings are social creatures by nature, so it
comes as no surprise that Harvard Business Review
notes that when managers make it a priority to engage
with all employees, regardless of location, the
company thrives. While face-to-face interaction is still
hard to beat, technological advances over the past
decade have made it easier to make remote
employees feel part of a team. Here are four tips.

2. GET PERSONAL.

1. DEVELOP AN AMBASSADOR NETWORK.
We recently helped a company that was spinning off
from its parent organization launch a remote
ambassador network to keep non-office workers
informed about changes the company was going
through. Specific employees were identified to serve as
ambassadors and join monthly calls with the corporate
communications team, where they received updates
that were particularly relevant to remote workers.
Ambassadors were then responsible for relaying
information to an assigned group of employees in their
region using whatever channel they preferred, be it
email, phone calls or video conferences.

networks raised similar
to the spinoff, and remote
solutions and answers fast
with the communications

Want to take this idea a step further? Consider
developing an employee matching service using
location-based data to connect remote workers and
help them organize meet ups with others in their
area.

For the sake of building relationships, people who
manage remote employees should find ways to
show them they belong. Build non-work small talk into
calls and meetings. This can range from simple
gestures, such as taking an interest in employees’
well-being and lives outside work to more concerted
efforts, such as starting a remote employee book
club, a recipe-sharing group or a private Yammer
discussion where employees share pictures of their
office views, their work environment, even their pets.

3) STIMULATE CONVERSATION WITH DIGITAL
TOOLS.
According to Gallup, workers in the modern
workplace want to feel an intrinsic connection to
their work and their company. Creating frequent
opportunities for remote employees to engage with
their
teams helps develop those
essential
connections.

© 2015 Edelman

There are many collaboration platforms today that
can help connect disparate workforces, including:

Yammer: One of the most well-known internal
social networking platforms. Many organizations
host “Yam Jams,” moderated, time-bound
discussions on a specific topic and photo-sharing
contests, both of which engage participants no
matter where they work.
DropThought: A real-time engagement tool that
allows companies to take quick pulse checks on
employee sentiment. Accessible from any device,
it is easy for remote employees to use and share
feedback.
Slack: A messaging tool for teams that is similar to
social media sites employees already use, and is
good for sharing photos, short-form videos and
other “bite-sized” updates with teams.
The Vision Lab: A mobile friendly crowd-sourcing
platform that encourages employees to pose
solutions to common problems and vote for the
best ideas.

4) MAKE IT EASY FOR REMOTE EMPLOYEES TO
PARTICIPATE.
Whenever there’s a team meeting, always be sure to
include a dial-in and consider nominating someone
to develop written recaps to make sure remote
employees don’t miss important in-the-room
nuances. When launching an internal campaign or
initiative, plan activities that all employees can
participate in regardless of location.
For example, one of our clients recently debuted a
new company brand, and sent every employee a
branded item kit, including a pennant flag with the
new logo and name. To illustrate the company’s
global footprint, teams were encouraged to take
photos with the flags in unique and interesting local
places and share their images on Yammer. This
campaign created a sense of unity among
employees around the world.
Consider sharing digital files of posters distributed
internally for remote employees to print for their
home office. You may even want to pass along
invitations to team outings and/or share photos after
the fact. Even if remote employees can’t physically
attend, it will help them feel as if they are truly part of
the team.

EASY TIPS
 Always, always, always include a dial in number IN
meeting invitations (and be sure someone IS
designated to open the line!)
 Make it regular protocol for everyone to introduce
themselves at the start of a meeting to ensure
employees on the phone are remembered – and
know who is in the room.
 Give remote workers a speaking role in meetings.
It’s far too easy to lose focus when you’re the only
one not physically present in a conference room, so
make a point to actively call on and bring remote
workers into the conversation.
 Use Skype, FaceTime or the videoconferencing tool
of your choice more often than just the phone for
one-on-one meetings with remote employees.

FURTHER READING
CIO: 5 Ways to Make Telecommuters and Remote
Workers Feel Included
Computer Weekly: Remote workers: it's vital to keep
them motivated
Gallup: Don't Pamper Employees -- Engage Them
Global Workplace Analytics: Latest Telecommuting
Statistics
Harvard Business Review: To Raise Productivity, Let
More Employees Work from Home
Inc.: 6 Ways to Keep Your Remote Workers Engaged
and Productive
Mashable: 5 Tips for Keeping Remote Workers in the
Loop

ABOUT US
Edelman Employee Engagement helps organizations
accelerate business performance, delivered by highly
engaged and trusted employees. For more
information, visit us at ee.edelman.com or follow us on
Twitter at @EdelmanEE.

© 2015 Edelman. For more information, contact us at employee.engagement@edelman.com.