4 Ways to Engage Remote Workers

building an intranet
Remote workers are those who aren't connected to their computers and aren't just those working at their homes -- construction workers, salespeople, inventory control, manufacturing, mining and more need information. Let them go mobile.

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Remote employees and staff members are those workers who don’t have regular access to a desk computer. They may be more likely to miss key messages and important company news. And in many cases, those may be your most important audience. When they do use a computer, it’s generally for another purpose.

Who are remote workers?

medical personnelYou may not think you have remote workers, but chances are good — you do. They’re the people in your stock room and those on the road, not just those telecommuting.

There’s a range of employees who may fit into this category, and your business may be different. Here are just a few examples:

  • Salespeople who are often on the road or with a client
  • Security guards who work for your company
  • Warehouse and stockroom employees
  • Mailroom personnel
  • Healthcare providers
  • Lawyers and other consultants who bill by the hour
  • Farmers
  • Miners, manufacturing workers, and construction workers who have physical labor and cannot look at a phone often

In fact, anyone who’s main responsibility doesn’t involve being in front of a computer  is considered a deskless — or remote — worker.

Why engage them?

Many of these remote workers are a core part of the business. For example, if you’re in the construction business your business is built around people who don’t have general access to intranet communications – construction workers.

They need to know what’s happening, what to expect and valuable company information. More importantly, if their main responsibility is what your company is known for – mining, healthcare, farming, legal services – they are your front-line in providing services. In other words, to your customers and prospects, they’re the representation of your brand most seen. These are the very people who should be most engaged.

1. Develop a comprehensive mobile strategy

Most people own a mobile device, even those disconnected from your corporate infrastructure. You need a mobile strategy that provides access at points where people can connect – wireless hotspots, cell, facility office wireless, etc. You need to provide a strategy that embraces, most likely, multiple devices, too.

You’ll also need to rethink communications. Enabling remote employees to access your news and other communications on their mobile device help ensure that these workers remain current with company news, are more aligned with what the company is trying to accomplish, and are more engaged and interested in doing their part.

Some key elements of a successful mobile strategy include:

  • Consider bandwidth constraints and deliver mobile solutions that will still run smoothly for remote employees.
  • Ensure that social features are available for remote employees so that they can communicate and collaborate with others. Engaged employees not only receive top-down communications, but also have channels to have their voices heard. The ability to rate and comment on news, share information, and other social activities directly from a mobile device will increase engagement.
  • Ensure the solution can support approved email domains beyond your corporate domain. This enables you to provide access to these workers with their personal accounts while still maintaining control over who can access your systems.
  • Consider what’s practical. Some organizations rely on kiosks. For some employees and staff members, that won’t increase usage. Flexibility is necessary.

2. Empower local leaders

Even in remote scenarios, there will likely be a manager or lead who can communicate key information to his or her team.

Make sure you’re talking and working with these individuals to get them excited about the initiative and understand the capabilities he or she will have as a result. Get input early and often. Understanding what the “boots on the ground” think will be the best way to communicate information locally. These leaders may then be more willing and able to provide local methods to engage employees in real time.

3. Listen to remote employees often

people using a mobile device to see an intranetRemote employees may have great ideas and input. Focus your efforts to provide channels for these workers to be able to share their knowledge, insight, and concerns. For example, ensuring these employees have easy access to an online ideation tool enable them to share ideas and receive feedback; this can go a long way to giving these users the voice they deserve and what your company needs to hear.

A byproduct of giving them a voice is they have buy-in to your communications – engaging them.

4. Consider cloud-based solutions

Many remote employees can sometimes access the Internet (for example, at home or a coffee shop). By leveraging cloud-based solutions that require a simple login to access, you can open communication and engagement channels without the IT and business complexities associated with providing access to solutions behind the corporate firewall. Cloud-based applications continue to become richer and more advanced in capabilities, providing value at very reasonable cost to the organization.

  • As with mobile solutions, think about bandwidth constraints.
  • Consider a solution that can support a user login who doesn’t have a corporate email address.

An effective engagement strategy should incorporate all your employees to reach the entire workforce and align them with your corporate strategy or initiative.

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