In a rapidly-evolving world of digital inter connectivity, more and more businesses are hiring and relying on virtual (aka. ‘remote’) employees. These employees are situated offsite from the company’s offices but are often integral parts in its success—and should be treated as such. Even so, working away from a physical office can make for an easy disconnect, which comes with the potential for diminished productivity and performance.

That’s why JWT INSIDE wants to offer a few tips for maintaining REAL engagement with VIRTUAL employees:

1. Create a personal connection.

In business, it’s easy to put up professional walls (and somewhat expected), but the employees behind them are still human. They share in the same kinds of emotions, struggles, and successes that you do. Keeping that in mind, be sure to recognize your employees’ strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, and interests in order to forge a more genuine connection, especially where a geographic one is missing. According to Business News Daily, remote employees will feel more engaged and committed to the company and their role if they know that they are cared about not only as an employee, but as a person.

2. Maintain communication.

Virtual employees will feel a greater sense of connection to the workplace when assured that they can (and should) connect with their peers and co-workers, whether through digital communication or the classic phone call. It helps to have a non-formal communication channel, too, where you can discuss things outside the purview of ‘work.’ Also, be considerate of time zone differences when sending emails or scheduling meetings. This shows a genuine understanding of work-life balance.

3. Build a team dynamic.
Many companies are jumping on the gamification wave. This idea of applying game-playing techniques to non-game environments is popular when encouraging loyalty and healthy competition. Building a sense of collaboration and cooperation can be supremely helpful when keeping a remote employee connected to the larger base.

4. Find the right technology to help.
With the help of our friends at hppy—the HR & Employee Engagement Community—we’ve curated this list of effective tools for managing remote employees and projects:

• Trello – a very visual project organizational tool that helps you organize information, tasks and documents. Easily synced with multiple devices and organized to create your own workflow.

• Basecamp – a project management tool that allows you to collaborate with a remote team, organize files and tasks, and plan your own projects.

• Mural.ly – most suited for creatives, can be used for remote brainstorming and idea mapping. Facilitates interdisciplinary collaborations, assisting with research, creative thinking, and idea sharing/organization.

• Hivedesk – helps you keep track of remote employees’ time and productivity. The software will let you know which of your team members are currently online and which projects they’re working on, taking periodic screenshots of employees’ monitors so you can watch their progress as they work. (We’re assured it’s not as creepy as when your boss physically lurks just behind you.)

A lack of work environment engagement can affect an employee’s passion, energy, and overall zeal for a company, which can ultimately affect the caliber of work they provide. Keep up company morale near and far by employing some of these tactics!

For more ideas on retaining employee engagement and attracting the best employees to suit your growing company’s needs, email us at: conversations@wtemploy.com

Wunderman Thompson Employ is a full-service recruitment advertising agency and employer branding consulting firm, creating pioneering ideas in strategic recruitment, human resource development and management, and more.