Spotting disengaged employees is one of the trickier tasks a manager deals with. But when you add in remote employees, it becomes even trickier. If body language, enthusiasm, and attentiveness are great engagement signals for employees inside the office, how can one identify a disengaged remote employee?

Redefining the productive work environment

An open office filled with the hustle and bustle of productive employees is thought of as the image of a successful business. In the past, organizational thought leaders considered it imperative that employees be in the same location and in close proximity to foster collaboration and creativity in their work. Dom Price, futurist at Atlassian Software, makes the point that if that were the case then no business would have expanded beyond a single office. Dom says, “Given the right environment, remote workers enhance your business rather than tax it. If they’re off on their own little islands or generally ineffective, that’s a people problem—not a proximity problem.”

Observe virtual body language

Organizational behaviour experts tell us to pay attention to “virtual body language” when it comes to your remote workers. If leaders are missing the signals, it’s a people problem not a proximity problem. Behaviours like missing stand up meetings, slow or no reply to emails and messages, missed deadlines, or a lack of participation in team activities or chats are some obvious signs that something is up. A lack of communication must be addressed as soon as possible before any situation worsens.

Implement regular check-ins

As a best practice, daily or weekly “check-ins” are common for remote teams. New predictive analytics and sentiment analysis tools are also common tools that help managers analyze their team’s engagement according to the data. Effective collaboration requires a high level of trust no matter where the work gets done.

When you lay down the ground rules and give your employees the autonomy to make decisions, they’ll perform their best. Look over their shoulder every five minutes and micromanage every decision and they’ll soon disengage. The key is to develop trust and the practices that go along with it.

For more useful tips on implementing a successful remote work policy within your organization, download our ebook on 7 Simple Solutions for Managing Modern Remote Workers.

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