Insight March 6, 2023 Colin Gillespie

17 Ways to Keep a Remote Team Engaged

engaging a remote team

The world of work has seen some dramatic shifts in recent years but none so impactful as the trend towards remote teams. Just ten years ago, there was a general assumption that for a team to perform at its best, it needed to be sitting in the same office, collaborating together in person. That status quo has been disrupted by technological advancement and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic to such an extent that it has changed everything about the way we think about work. In fact, 75% of workers believe that remote working is the new normal, according to research by IWG. And the number of remote workers has increased by a staggering 159% when compared to 2009.

Remote working is here to stay and managers need to adapt their leadership style and working culture to get the most out of their remote working teams. They need to keep people engaged and invested in the wider mission of the company even when they are spread out across the world and not in the same room. Old habits need to be revisited and new ones need to be forged if you are to maximize the potential of a remote working team.

17 things that you should be doing to keep your remote team engaged

1. Provide frequent feedback

When you don’t see your boss or immediate team, you don’t get immediate feedback on your ideas, work, or viewpoints on certain things. Often you have to wait days or even weeks to hear back about particular pieces of work and this can be really frustrating if you’re working remotely and want to understand how your work has been received. That’s why it’s crucial to make regular feedback a core component of how you manage your remote team so that they understand what they’ve done well and where they need to improve. Ideally, you should aim for daily feedback where possible as this makes a big difference to morale and productivity across the board.

2. Answer communications quickly

Bottlenecks can easily slow the progress of a team’s efforts and so managers should always aim to answer communications as quickly as possible to keep things going. Team members aren’t able to raise urgency as they would in person (by coming up to you personally) and instead have to rely on phone calls, emails, and messaging to communicate important things. By keeping on top of your communication and responding as quickly as you can, you’ll keep the team engaged and speed up the execution of your daily and weekly plans.

3. Have regular one on ones

When working remotely you need to try and create some of the serendipity that you miss out on when in an office. A great way to do this is to schedule regular one-on-one meetings with your team members where you can ask them how you’re doing and whether they need anything from you to progress what they’re working on. These don’t have to be long or particularly structured, but they do need to be frequent so that you can identify blockers early and resolve them to keep the wheels turning.

4. Host in-person events

Just because your team is working remotely doesn’t mean you should ignore in-person connection completely. In fact, regular in-person events are a great way to bring people together and get them away from their screens. Your team can bond together and grow their relationships which helps keep them more engaged when they do return to their distributed working setups. Make them fun and interesting and you’ll significantly improve the engagement you’re seeing from your people.

team collaborating in office

5. Offer as much training as you can

Investing in continuous learning opportunities for your team is another great way to increase engagement and keep them invested in the mission at hand. There are plenty of practical ways to implement training in remote working settings with today’s technology and it has a knock-on effect on the skills, experience, and performance that your team can benefit from, while also showing that you care about their professional development. Importantly, you need to make the time available for them to do the training. They need slack in their diaries to take on the training and dedicate the necessary time without guilt trips surrounding the work that still needs to be done.

6. Use the right tools

With so much technology out there, it pays to take some time and figure out the right set of tools for your team’s unique needs. Not all remote working software is made equal and by optimizing your technology stack you can squeeze a lot more productivity out of your days while simultaneously enabling your team to do their best work. By empowering them in this way you’ll have much more engaged team members who are willing to go the extra mile when required.

Team meeting on video conferencing

7. Communicate first and often

Much of the success (or lack thereof) associated with remote working relies on the quality of your communication. The more you can share with your team, the more trust you build and the more connected they feel. You need to go above and beyond here to be proactive because the longer you go without communicating, the more isolated people feel. Rather err on the side of over-communication where possible because it makes a big difference to the overall morale and mindset of the team.

8. Host virtual events

Another interesting way to increase engagement is to host virtual events that bring people together in a social setting, but online. These are substitutes for in-person events and can provide a lot of value in terms of team-building, bonding, and expanding your collective vision. Keep them light and open-ended so that your team members can get what they need from them and leave room for spontaneity where possible.

9. Encourage connections and friendships

This builds on many of the tips mentioned above, but it’s paramount to try and get your team to interact not just as colleagues, but as people. Encourage them to build connections and friendships that will be invaluable when things are difficult or when you’re trying to get everyone to work together. This human touch is very important because it builds respect and trust among everyone – making it that much easier to pull in the same direction.

Collaboration at work

10. Trust your employees to do what they do best

There’s a tendency to micro-manage people when you’re managing them remotely because you can’t see what they’re doing on an hour-to-hour basis. However, you must push against this instinct because this is the quickest way to alienate them. You must trust your employees to get the job done because when you do this, you give them responsibility and meaning which is the key to long-term engagement in their jobs. This must be combined with a willingness to accept failure though because it’s going to happen. But the trust and respect that you show by doing this are worth their weight in gold.

11. Ask for feedback

When you ask your team for feedback on how to improve their remote working situation, you not only get real answers that you can act upon, but you also demonstrate that you are looking after their interests and genuinely want them to have the best possible working conditions possible. Do this regularly and you’ll find patterns and insights that can make you a better manager and make the company a better place to work.

12. Give recognition

Remote work can be lonely and we can often feel that our work is not being validated if we’re not receiving recognition for what we’re doing. As a company, you should make acknowledgment and recognition something you focus on because it’s so much more important when you’re not in the same room. It helps everyone to be secure about what they’re doing and to receive the positive reinforcement that they need to stay engaged and invested. 

13. Prioritize employee wellness and personal development

Show that you care by investing in an employee wellness program that looks after the physical, mental, and emotional health of your staff. This well-rounded approach means a great deal, especially when isolation can take hold – and it shows that you care about them as people, not just as workers. Make the time and resources available to take advantage of these perks and you’ll have happier, healthier, and more productive employees.

Relaxed at work

14. Support your newest hires

It can be very daunting to start a job where everyone is remote because you don’t actually get to meet everyone and you’re forced to engage asynchronously over email, text, and the phone. As a result, spend a little more time and effort supporting each new hire as they find their feet and become a part of the team. This goes beyond the onboarding process and should involve regular check-ins so that you can help them acclimatize as best they can.

15. Be flexible

One of the keywords that makes the difference in remote working is flexibility. It’s a very different paradigm to traditional office work and it’s something that takes getting used to, but you have to be flexible to working arrangements, timezones, and various other aspects of this new way of work. If you’re too structured, it’s simply not going to work and you’re going to cause more stress than is necessary for your team. Research from Owl Labs shows that 87% of job candidates consider flexibility to be very important in terms of job attractiveness. Remain agile and flexible though, and you’ll be off to the races.

celebrating achievements at work

16. Offer competitive compensation

It goes without saying that in order to engage your remote working team, you need to offer a level of compensation that is competitive within the larger landscape. This is especially important at present with the severe talent shortage which makes retaining your staff more important than ever. A competitive compensation package goes a long way to ensuring loyalty and encouraging your team to fully engage with the work that they’re doing.

17. Make good use of real-time communication

When you do get the chance for synchronous communication over video conferencing or text platforms like Slack, be sure to use it wisely so that you can maximize its impact. There’s nothing worse than unnecessary meetings or back-and-forth communication that doesn’t accomplish anything because it gets in the way of flow during a day of work. Be thoughtful and intentional and you’ll reap the benefits of these infrequent opportunities to engage in real-time.


All of the tips above can be very helpful when you’re trying to get the most out of a remote team. Often their application requires a mindset shift as you adapt to new ways of doing things, so don’t hesitate to disrupt your own working culture as you do so. The future of work requires new ways of thinking and evolving courses of action.

If you’d like assistance in recruiting and retaining a world-class team, then The Renaissance Network is here to help. We’re passionate about helping companies navigate these unchartered waters and we’d love to see how we can help. Get in touch today and let’s explore what’s possible for building the best remote, hybrid, and in-office teams.

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Colin Homer Gillespie is a strategic and purpose-driven GM with significant global experience and a record of product innovation and business transformation.

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