How NOT to Engage Remote Employees

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 20/02/2024

There are many tips on how to engage remote employees. But nowhere near as many discussing engagement pitfalls. In this article for project management and company owners, we will discuss some common mistakes.  If you are running a hybrid office, this read is worth your while.

Managing a team that either fully or partly consists of remote workers is surely a challenging task. Without being able to read one’s body language or hear their tone, miscommunications are bound to happen. There are many resources recommending what to do in order to be effective in engaging your remote workers. However, nowhere near enough of those warning you against things you should never do.

Unsurprisingly, companies make many mistakes in attempts to engage remote employees. It is a way of learning, alas a long one. So to save you some time, we will be looking into some common mistakes and how to avoid them. Additionally, this should be your aid in building better relationships with your workers.

How Do You Control Remote Workers?

You don’t control remote workers, you manage them. You shouldn’t be dictating what they do and how they do it. Instead, present them with a list of targets and let them do what they deem is the best approach to achieve them. 

Controlling is one of the ways you should not engage remote employees as it will affect their performance and likely dampen your relationship. However, even when it comes to managing remote teams, there are many communication pitfalls to be avoided. Let’s talk about the most common ones and what you can do to avoid them.

Mistakes to Avoid in Communication with Remote Workers 

Below, we will be discussing the 5 most common mistakes we observe companies make in their efforts to engage remote employees. They may seem minor at first glance, but they are very harmful and can negatively impact the future of your business. That’s why it’s important you, at the very least, acknowledge them.

  1. Not Getting to Know Them Personally

It is more difficult to build a personal relationship with remote workers, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. In fact, putting an effort into connecting them is crucial as it will give you an insight into what kind of people they are and how to tailor the best approach to them. Don’t treat your remote workers as if they’re just a cog in the machine.

Understanding their life circumstances, knowing their hobbies, remembering the names of their loved ones - all these little things can build a strong bond and trust between you. Moving forward, this makes communication much easier and more open, both of which lead to great results in the long run.

  1. Providing No Feedback

Feedback is important when it comes to overall team management, but it’s vital to engage remote employees. Given most of your communication will be handled through either video or in a written form, it’s very easy to misunderstand each other. Investing time in providing constructive feedback will certainly pay off, especially in terms of bettering the alignment not with just the worker but across the entire team. It will also clarify your expectations moving forward. 

When you skip this part, you cut a big chunk of communication. The one that contributes towards forming smoother and more efficient collaboration. In other words, not only are you hurting your employees by failing to point out their strengths and weaknesses, but also the quality you’re getting from them.

  1. Stunting Their Progress

This is a tricky one to explain because surely, no employer wants to get in the way of their workers becoming better at what they do. However, it is a very regular occurrence when it comes to remote employees. They are often pretty independent and deliver great results without much supervision, setting the expectation bar high. This often leads to them being seen as the cornerstone of the company. Meaning their reduced performance is not acceptable. 

Having to maintain the standard strips them of opportunities to partake in additional courses, learn new approaches or experiment with different strategies. So, while they keep on delivering their usual, they’re not progressing further. Additionally, some employers are sceptical about the remote workers attending virtual courses or using them as paid time off. We strongly recommend trusting your staff. If they’ve been delivering this entire time, they know what they’re doing. Let them surprise you with their growth.

  1. Forced Bonding

Engaging and bonding through social activities is difficult when it comes to remote workers. And while most of us enjoyed quizzes and Zoom happy hours at the beginning of the pandemic, it grew old rather fast. Sure, there are still people who enjoy it and will happily partake in it, but these interactions should not be forced. 

Getting your team to engage with the remote workers through non-work interactions is important to build some rapport, but neither of the parties should feel obliged to partake. Instead of mandating these events, offer them. Let your workers decide what they’re comfortable with and let the bonding occur naturally. 

  1. Lack of Recognition

Some may argue that the only recognition remote workers need is being paid, preferably on time. However, there is barely a single human being who doesn’t enjoy receiving praise for their achievements. Remote workers’ contribution often goes unrecognised as it’s usually invisible to the rest of the team. And it only worsens their detachment. 

Take steps to highlight the impact they deliver to your company. Consider giving them public praise on the digital channels or during a team call. Feeling appreciated can inspire them to work harder. But remember to take into consideration your worker’s personality - shy and reserved people may not be appreciative of such an approach. Instead, praise them privately.


There are right and wrong ways to engage remote employees. Too often we focus on things we should do and don’t talk about what to avoid. This leads to employers occasionally stepping on their employees’ toes, which is harmful to both parties and their relationship. Such includes not nourishing the relationship in the first place by getting to know the workers and letting them get to know you via providing feedback. 

Additionally, there is often a lack of effort when connecting remote employees with their on-site counterparts. Something that could simply be fixed by giving them some spotlight. There is another side of the coin, though. Being too forceful in attempts to bond, makes the process superficial and irritating. Finally, the core of everything is trust. Sometimes it means letting your employees invest their time in long-term results through training and such instead of continuously hitting preset targets but not progressing further. 

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