Managing a Remote Workforce: How to Build Worker Engagement

Managing a remote workforce: looking back a couple of years ago, most business leaders had no concept this was going to be the rule, not the anomaly.

As a nation in a continual state of COVID lockdown, remote working has become the norm for most of us. Yet on both sides of the working relationship, there was little preparedness for managing this new way of working.

Remote working doesn’t have to induce the dread of isolation or the panic of invisibility in workers (both contingent and employee). So, for you managers out there, today I’ve provided actionable advice on how to build engagement and productivity with your remote workforce. And a sense of calm and happiness with your workers.

1 Build a Culture of Trust

Your remote workforce needs to feel that you’ve got their back. That you know they’re working and delivering as expected.

So, despite losing visibility of your workforce, you need to suspend concern or uncertainty about your workers activity and performance levels.

Trust is a two-way street. And by leading the way, you’ll create stronger relationships with workers, than ever before.

challenges of managing a remote workforce

2 Be Objective Oriented

By establishing clear objectives for your department’s deliverables, you’ll provide a roadmap for the remote workforce.

To this end, using a project management platform could add enormous value to your team. This will enable you to version control the work of the entire team, with clear visibility for all parties.

Being objective oriented is incredibly rewarding as well. Ticking off deliverables in your project management tool, for the entire team to see, is a great motivator and opportunity for engagement. You don’t need to be in the same room to experience that sense of team unity and satisfaction.

3 Be Flexible on Processes

It might be hard for some of your remote workforce to stick to company processes in the execution of their roles, without being in the office.

For example, colleague accessibility will be less achievable – stopping by the desk of your peer to organise a quick project meeting, isn’t an option. And so, compromises may have to be made for some work to be delivered.

This doesn’t mean workers can turn a blind eye to compliance and company endorsed work practices. It just means you may need to be a little more understanding if things take slightly longer to happen, or an alternative route is taken to achieve an outcome.

Remote workforce opportunities

4 Keep Recognising the Remote Workforce

In times of disruption, recognition is a powerful tool to keep employees engaged. Dispensed effectively, your recognition will have a positive impact upon the entire team, not just the individual recognised. Why? Because it’s a signal of behaviours others will want to copy; even outdo.

In running a remote workforce, talent managers are typically required to recognise more, with less worker visibility. And this requires some skill. The project management platform (mentioned earlier) can help with this process. With an accurate lens on milestones and timelines, the opportunity for recognition will present itself.

And there are other ways to recognise people. With limited unintentional interactions available – like those that happen frequently in the office – you may need to seek out the opportunity for recognition. This can be done with pulse surveys and by shifting relationships with your remote team. You may find stronger bonds are forged in these circumstances.


Managers across all industries in Australia are quickly honing their skills for engaging the remote workforce, especially as the post-pandemic world looks increasingly opaque. Encouraging innovation and creativity at this time, will inspire team interactions, new ways of achieving outcomes and better team morale. As challenging as these times may be, it’s also a time of opportunity.

And of course, if you’d like to discuss any component of managing your remote workforce, you can reach me here. I look forward to speaking with you.