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How To Drive Stakeholder Engagement In A Remote Setup

Remote working is the new norm, and it brings many positives to your business, including saving you thousands of dollars each year. At the same time, remote working saves individuals about $4,000 annually with many reporting experiencing a better work-life balance and enjoying the flexibility. However, how do you keep remote stakeholders engaged?

Calendar Your Recurring Stand Ups

With Information Flows Disrupted, It’s Easy For Employees Working Remotely To Be Without Critical Pieces Of Information To Determine Their Optimal Allocation Of Time.  The Need For Meetings To Align Priorities And Shared Objectives Becomes Increasingly More Important In The New Environment.  Without These Opportunities For Regular Calibration, Employees Are At Greater Risk For Unknowingly Allocating Time To Areas Of Reduced Priority.  It’s Likely That The Frequency In Which You Had Regular Stand Up Meetings While Co-Located May Need To Be Increased To Compensate For The Lack Of Communication Remotely.  

Get Off The Phone And Onto Video More Often

In The Old World We Were Used To Relegating Most Of Our Remote Communication To The Phone Given That It Was Often With Individuals We Would See Physically At A Later Time.  That Has Now Changed, But Our Communication Habits May Not Have Kept Up.  Over The Phone, You Cannot See The Individual’s Body Language, Gestures, Or Facial Expressions.  You Are Missing Critical Inputs That Reduce Your Level Of Influence On The Conversation, And Can Undermine The Effectiveness Of The Discussion.  The Best Way To Optimally Influence Your Stakeholders, Convey Energy, And To Attract Others Is To Showcase Your Ideas Over Video, Not The Phone.    

Use The Right Tool For The Right Communication Stream

The Great News About Working Remotely In Today’s Environment Is Our Access To A Diverse Set Of Tools To Enable It.  However, You Should Tailor The Tool To The Nature Of The Communication.  If You Have A Short Question Requiring A Short Answer, Consider Using Slack To Reduce Email Congestion And To Get Noticed.  If, However Your Answer Requires A Lengthier Response, Use Email.  If It’s An Ad-Hoc Question Requiring A Short Discussion, Try Calling The Person.  If Alternatively, It’s A Sensitive Topic Where You Need To Be Emotionally Dialed Into Your Stakeholder’s Needs Or It’s A Brainstorming Discussion With Multiple Stakeholders Or A Regular Stand Up, Schedule A Zoom/Video Call.   

Train Your Leaders To Over Communicate

The Same Frequency And Type Of Communication Carried Into A Remote Setting Is Now Under Communication.  Because Communication Pathways Have Been Disrupted, You May Need To Rely On Formal Update Templates To Keep Everyone Apprised Of Progress Or End Of Day Wrap Up Meetings To Compliment Your Morning Meetings. Additionally, Employees Are Prone To Feelings Of Isolation And Demotivation In Some Cases, Thus Your Presence As A Mentor, Teacher, And Supervisor Needs To Be Better Felt. Take The Position Of Overcommunicating With Your Employees Until It Becomes Evident That They Are Well Taken Care Of. Then Dial Back Your Communication Until You Find The Optimal Mix.  

Integrity Matters More

If You’re Late To A Meeting In A Physical Environment, Other Stakeholders Can Spend Some Time Socializing With Each Other.  If You’re Late To A Zoom Meeting In A Remote Setting And You’re The Host, No One Can Converse Without You Approving Their Entry Into The Room.  The Result Is Participants On Hold Listening To Music Not Of Their Choice.  If You Schedule A Meeting Remotely And Forget Or Choose Not To Show Up, Your Stakeholders Will Likely Not Be Happy.  However, Combine That With An Underdeveloped Relationship In The Remote Environment And A Curiosity As To How Someone May Be Spending Their Time, And You Get A Recipe For Credibility And Trust Erosion.  Integrity Matters More In A Remote Environment.  A Reduction In Your Credibility Will Impair Any Level Of Influence You Hope To Impart To Your Stakeholders.     

Grant More Autonomy For Schedules

Taking A Leap And Letting People Work In A Remote Setup Is A Big Step, Which Makes Allowing Them To Set Up Their Schedules The Easy Part. While One Person Prefers Working From 6 A.M. And Another At 8 A.M., Such A Program Should Not Be A Problem Except When It Comes To Meeting Specific Deadlines And Meetings. You Cannot Maximize Everyone’s Wellbeing If You Still Need Them To Follow Regular Hours.

Remember, An Individual’s Home Environment Is Not Within Your Control, And They Are Likely To Take Breaks To Take Care Of Kids, Personal Phone Calls Or Attend To Kitchen Emergencies.  Instead Of Micromanaging, Focus On Outcomes When Possible; Giving Individuals More Control Over Their Time Results In A More Engaged And Happier Participant.  

Create A Platform That Promotes A Sense Of Community

A Big Challenge For Keeping Remote Workers Engaged Is How You Can Address The Isolation Some Of Them May Feel Since They Are Away From The Group. Institute Management Efforts That Are Designed To Bring Your Stakeholders Together. You Can Do This By Setting Up Online Channels, Messaging Systems, Email And Web Conferencing Tools That Offer Team Members Venues To Talk.

Modern Remote Communication Platforms Are A Plethora Of Vibrant Opportunities And Collaboration Tools That Make Participants Feel Like They Are In The Same Room. Chatbots Or Online Feedback Tools Provide An Invaluable Means Of Building A Virtual Connected Environment. The Feedback You Receive Is Valuable For Strengthening Motivation And Building Relationships Based On Empowerment And Trust. 

Remember To Have Fun

Your Brand’s Identity Depends On The Company Culture, Which Can Be Affected By Geographically Separated Team Members. In This New World, Feelings Of Stress, Anxiety, And Uncertainty Are Rampant.  Make Sure You Make Time For The Occasional Virtual Hangout Or Happy Hour.  Consider Changing Your Background Setting.  Last Week I Talked To An Employee Who I Swore Was In The Tahiti. It’s A Conversation Piece And Encourages Fun Stories And Connection When We Need It The Most.   

As You Can See, Remote Set Up Engagement Is Not An Impossible Task. 

Are You Ready To Engage Your Stakeholders? Get Started With These Tips And Start Working On An Action Plan To Engage The New Digital Workforce. 

Patrick Coggins