There is no denying that the year 2020 has changed the current state of how we work individually, and how we work as a member of a team. The events of 2020 will also more than likely become a catalyst for how we work in the future. During the last six months, I think it’s safe to say that most of us have experienced a change in how we work, whether that’s working remotely or trying to manage a largely remote team. To adjust, several things must be considered, including embracing technology to make remote working possible, understanding how people differ, and effectively managing a remote workforce.

Embracing Technology

The first step to ensure that you can keep your employees engaged while working remotely is to ensure they have access to communication and collaboration technology. By now, many people have used Zoom or a similar video platform for conference calls. These modes of communication are complete game-changers from the call-in phone conference days of old. Not only can you see the people that you are communicating with, but you can share screens and record your meetings, to name a few of the features. In addition to retaining the face-to-face interaction with your team, you also need to make it easy for team members to collaborate by using software such as Microsoft Teams. This type of software allows you to see when team members are online, as employees’ schedules might have changed from the traditional 8-5 that we have grown accustomed to. It also allows for document storage and makes collaborating on projects a breeze.

Understanding Generational Differences

The chances are high that you work with and connect with coworkers of various ages regularly. Generational differences play a big factor in how we view the world and react to things that are thrown our way. In addition, coworkers who fall into different generations may be facing different challenges. For instance, someone who falls into the Generation Y/Millennial categories could be struggling with working from home while also taking care of children. Someone who falls into the Baby Boomer/Generation X categories may have a more challenging time embracing the technology required to work remotely. It’s essential to first understand where your team members are coming from and what they may be dealing with, in order to help them face the challenges that working remotely can bring. If you would like to read more on generation differences, I encourage you to read this article written by a fellow TDT teammate, Working Together: Generational Diversity in the Workplace.

Keeping People Engaged

There are a multitude of ways to keep team members engaged, and they all start with communication. Whether you have daily check-ins, weekly team huddles, etc., the more you can communicate, the better. The next step is to manage expectations and focus on outcomes rather than activity. It’s impossible to monitor coworkers from a remote setting to ensure that someone isn’t sitting at their desk surfing the internet or scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed. So instead of focusing on your team members being online from 8 am – 5 pm, focus on the outcomes, not their daily activity. Some people may work more efficiently during different parts of the day, especially depending on what these unprecedented times have thrown their way. So, managing what is expected of them is key.

If you have the right technology, understand that there are generational differences, and manage expectations by focusing on outcomes instead of activity, it can only help keep your remote workforce engaged. These are just a few things that I have discovered from managing a team that has been working remotely for the last six months. I’d be curious to know if you have any additional tips that have worked well for you!

Dan Montgomery, CPA and Partner at TDT, discusses 3 keys to keeping employees engaged in a remote setting. With more than twelve years of experience, Dan specializes in audits of nonprofits, governmental entities, and employee benefit plans. Dan is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Iowa Society of CPAs and serves nonprofit clients across all eight TDT office locations.