There are many reasons why remote work may be a great solution for a business. The rise of efficient tracking tools and teamworking software means employees can communicate and manage projects across continents. The business spends less on rent, too. Or, maybe your company relies on employees’ being out and about. It may have a team of telephone engineers who work alone or a group of fundraisers who canvass away from the office.

Regardless of why you might have staff working remotely, it is important that these employees stay motivated and engaged. There is evidence that working remotely can actually increase engagement, but only when employees are remote or isolated for a small fraction of their overall time at work.

With that in mind, here are five strategies you can use to ensure your remote staff remains engaged.

1. Communication Is Key.

It is crucial that remote staff feel they are always able to communicate with their colleagues, whether it’s their manager or someone else working the same tasks in a different location. Of course, it’s impossible for everyone to be available at all times, but through digital communication tools, staff can get in touch with one another instantly.

Using tools that are specific to the workplace rather than apps you might use in your own time can be of great benefit. This separation helps employees feel like their work isn’t constantly seeping into their personal life. Online platforms keep a remote team well organized and connected. For businesses that require mobile solutions, think about operating system compatibility, and consider installing a catch-all solution on everyone’s phone.

2. Rewards Are Important.

Rewards are especially important when staff are rarely in the same physical space. The small rewards that happen in an office – a “thank you” or even a smile – are not as easy to replicate with remote teams. It may seem cheesy, but creating a regular time for employees to offer thanks and praise can keep them motivated and create a positive, happy workplace. Try out “Thankful Thursdays” – a day where staff comment on someone who helped them during the week. Soon, you will have a culture of mutual praise and support that keeps your team engaged and consistently looking for ways to help each other.

3. Set Clear Goals.

It’s important to recognize good work, but it’s even more important to communicate what good work looks like. Setting tasks in an in-person workplace is easier than doing so for remote staff. If someone doesn’t feel that they are being directed well, it is easy for them to feel isolated. In addition, confusion can lead to mistakes that go unnoticed for a longer period of time. Combine clear goals with a culture of open communication so employees know what is expected of them or can ask questions if not.

4. Strike the Right Balance on Time Management.

One of the advantages of remote work is flexibility, but good time management is vital. A lack of self-motivation, the potential for unexpected delays and poor time management can cause standards to slip. If you are too draconian with timekeeping requirements, you risk staff disengagement and stress. Instead, a focus on each individual’s best practice. When employees are meeting or exceeding the clear goals their manager set for them, they can be more flexible when it comes to their schedules.

5. Be Personal.

Finally, it can be easy for remote staff to feel they aren’t known by the rest of the team. In offices, people chat on their coffee breaks and mix in a way that remote workers cannot. Many digital communication platforms can help you create a space for personal discussion where employees can relax and be themselves. In general, making sure you get to know your staff is crucial to their motivation and feeling of belonging.

Don’t check in to check a box. Recognize the value of engaging with staff about how they feel, what makes them tick and where you share interests. That way, the company becomes a better place to work, and jobs will feel more personal and relevant. You don’t want your team meetings to feel like a group of strangers trying to break the ice, so actually talk to each other regularly. Make the effort, and everyone will benefit.