A new survey finds that management needs to enhance its engagement efforts for employees working remotely. The report, conducted by Harris Interactive for communications consultancy Interact
, found that more than two-thirds of remote workers (69 percent) felt that management needs to communicate better in order to keep them engaged in the organization.
Drawing on the responses of more than 2,000 U.S. workers, the survey found that 61 percent of respondents working virtually feel that those located at the office are more engaged with management than them. Fifty percent report a sense of disconnection from their colleagues.
Additionally, the report found that slightly more than half (53 percent) believe they must work twice as hard as those in the office if they are to make connections within the organization while 55 percent maintain that the only communication they have with their boss is via email.
"While many corporations are increasingly offering employees the flexibility of working virtually, it is important to understand how management should interact with them in order to keep these virtual workers happy and productive and engaged," said Lou Solomon, CEO and founder of Interact, in a statement.
Solomon, whose company works with company executives at organizations like Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Farmer's Insurance, to develop effective communication strategies, offered four guidelines for engaging and getting the most out of remote workers.
The first, "get personal and hit the road," urges organizational leadership to find ways to open up the office, such as telecasting in-person town hall meetings, posting video messages, and encourage a "culture of conversation" throughout the organization. The second strategy, "think small and get together," encourages keeping project teams small in order to instill a sense of connection, even for those far away. These teams should also try to meet in person twice a year if possible.
The third tip is to "discourage an email-only culture," and instead incorporate Skype or just the phone to help make a more human connection between members of the organization. Finally, Solomon recommends that organizations "invest in state-of-the-art equipment" -- allowing for high-speed videoconferencing that will be free of technological snafus.
"Today it is standard practice for corporations to have people scattered across the country and around the globe, but the success of any culture still rests on relationships and human engagement," said Solomon.