The number of freelancers has been on a significant rise, 55% of hiring managers agree that remote work among full time and permanent employees is also on a steady rise. Upwork’s Future Workforce Report indicates that hiring managers anticipate approximately 38% of full-time employees will be working remotely in the next ten years.

A little short of 60% of hiring managers today employ freelance and contract employees, and many predict that this number would increase by 168% in the next ten years.

With the talent pool assorted, and with varying styles of working, it brings up the challenge of engaging the remote employee base. Far from the team and HR eyeshot, how does one keep this audience engaged and motivated? Presently, 63% of companies have remote workers, however, the vast majority of employers lack a structured work policy in place.

Here is a list of strategies to help you motivate and engage your remote talent pool.

  • Communicate

Communication remains vital to establish and maintain engagement with remote employees. However, with a remote employee pool, this process may prove more challenging with regard to the ease and flow. So, it is best if the communication channels and systems are process driven, and managers and HR teams initiate and create more methods to engage through communication. Some methods to initiate this include

1)Using Chat Programs – Chat programs make communication easy, cost effective, and engage employees in and outside the workplace.

2)Calls and Video Chat Meeting – Remote employees view calls and video meetings critical to remain connected. Via phone or video, scheduled calls, video meetings, and check-ins offer a platform to align, rectify, and conduct business. Policies with regard to remote employees in different time zones must also be considered and ironed out.

3)Encourage virtual face to face connections such as Google Hangouts.

4)Let employees share in the good experiences. Provide daily team activities but also get teams together face to face at off-site locations, which is new to everyone providing a memorable experience.

  • Encourage Involvement

Create opportunities and platforms for remote employees to participate and interact with teams and employees apart from those that they directly deal with.

1)Make the onboarding program effective and fun. Onboarding for a remote employee is even more important, given the limited venues they would get to see and feel the organization. So go the extra mile, and make the initial interaction a memorable one. Provide channels and means to establish connections within the team and beyond the immediate team.

2)Ensure remote workers are optimally engaged. Many remote workers are often called up only in times of need, and that leaves with a sense of just hanging about. Delegating specific and real responsibilities will go a long way to ensure that employees feel like they add value to the system. It expands their role and job experience, and helps them stay engaged.

3)Utilize communal workspace. This provides the remote employee a sense of a workplace, helps connect with other remote workers, and create a sense of oneness and belonging.

4)Provide opportunities for additional activities. Remote employees can organize and engage teams and employees in social and recreational activities such as hobbies, pursuits, gaming, online tournaments, and such.

  • Recognize and Appreciate

Employers can get creative and show they care and appreciate remote workers. The methods used should be carefully sieved, so that it isn’t impersonal and casual. Celebrate achievements, and reward good work. Personalized gifts, custom rewards, and personal calls to appreciate would go a long way.

1)Track progress using tools and project management suites that help measure increments albeit small and keep everyone post on what’s done and what’s in store.

2)Make the office visit a special occasion. Remote workers walking into the office building can be a big thing for them, so make it a special day.

3)Personalized and customize gifts and rewards.

4)Provide a custom reward system for remote employees.

5)Create forums for peer-to-peer recognition where colleagues who work more closely with remote employees can utilize to recognize contributions.