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How to Keep Your Introverted and Extroverted Employees Engaged Remotely

How to Keep Your Introverted and Extroverted Employees Engaged Remotely

Companies are rethinking employee engagement, especially since introverted and extroverted remote employees have different needs. This article explains more.

Even though many workplaces have transitioned to remote or flexible work models, companies and employees are still engaged with one another. There are a number of ways to foster employee engagement and growth, even if everyone is spread out amongst their homes, coworking spaces, or regional offices.

Many managers and human resources teams have found catering to employees based on their personality can be a good way for teams to feel appreciated, respected, and engaged. While most employees fall in the middle of the spectrum of extroversion and introversion, organizations can use several strategies to cover everyone’s needs so all employees feel included.

Strategies For Remote, Extroverted Employees

Extroverts tend to thrive on human connection, so working remotely may be a challenge for them. They usually appreciate the camaraderie of an in-person working environment, so it’s important to foster employee interaction even if everyone isn’t in the same place.

Offer Remote Teambuilding

Because extroverts often feel energized being around people, try to hold regular, optional team building events. These events can be virtual, like online trivia or Pictionary. Make sure employees know the events aren’t mandatory, and try a few events to see if employees attend and enjoy them.

Don’t keep organizing them if no one is attending. The key with remote events is to remain flexible and make sure the options work best for most employees. What works for one team may not work for another. For example, your customer service team may love trivia and your marketers may prefer a team game. Bonus: the right team building event can help your introverted employees feel included, too.

Encourage Open Communication About Communication

Some employees love hopping on a quick call to hash something out. Others enjoy writing everything down in an email. Make sure employees know that whatever way they communicate best is up to them. As a general rule, don’t force spur-of-the-moment video calls on introverted employees or people who usually do deep, creative work and aren’t prepared for them.

Conversely, don’t make others answer long, laborious emails if a quick call works better. While employees may have opposing communication styles, reinforce the fact that everyone has options when it comes to communication. Remote work has forced companies to become more comfortable with an array of internet-based communication methods, thus allowing employees to embrace the style that works best for them.

Talk to employees to find out how they prefer to communicate and keep the conversation active. “How would you like to discuss X?” goes a long way in helping employees feel in charge of their communication preferences.

Offer In-Person Work Options

If you have physical offices, consider offering in-office and flexible office days for anyone who wants to come into the office. Be sure to follow city, province, and country guidelines for office worker occupancy and make sure employees know what is optional and what is required.

Extroverts may enjoy going into the office several days a week, so offering that option can be a great way for them to stay engaged and energized by their work. Run a poll to see who is interested in coming to the office and how often.

Try Virtual Coworking

For extroverts who want to work with their coworkers in real time, consider offering virtual coworking. These online spaces are remote, 2D offices where employees are represented with a coloured dot or an avatar to show they are in the same room. You can also offer a standing Zoom invite: Users can log on and work together with their cameras on and microphones muted. Sometimes seeing coworkers’ faces on camera can make employees feel connected and motivated to power through their projects, even though there’s no conversation.

Focusmate is another alternative employees can use. It has free and low-cost options and connects two people for an hour session. You introduce yourself, explain what you’re working on, and then choose to mute or leave your sound on. Since this alternative is an outside option, not a secure private virtual coworking office, make sure employees know to not show or talk about anything confidential or covered by a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA.

Besides creating coworking times, set reminders to ask discussion questions in random or fun messaging channels, and look for ways for everyone to participate more on whatever messaging service you use. Many companies have “high-five” channels where employees can recognize each other’s work or have weekly discussions on fun topics like favourite TV shows or desserts.

Strategies For Remote, Introverted Employees

Because introverts tend to enjoy small-group and solo experiences, they may be likely to flourish in remote work environments, especially as leaders. Remote work usually means smaller group sizes for discussions, whether in regular calls or group messages.

It’s important to look at how your company’s culture can support solo work while also fostering introverted employees’ need for connection. Some remote introverts may feel isolated when they work from home, so make sure you give them opportunities to grow their relationships.

Give Notice of Face Time in Meetings

Many introverts will gladly present on a call or answer questions when they are given plenty of time to prepare. If a company meeting requires everyone to have their cameras on, be sure to include that detail in the meeting invite.

Likewise, if a manager knows they need an employee to speak, give the employee a heads-up far ahead of time via email or direct message. Asking an employee to speak about a topic “on the fly” can create anxiety, so avoid putting anyone, especially introverted team members, on the spot during a live call.

Finally, make sure every meeting leader creates the opportunity for everyone to speak. Remote and introverted employees often feel less heard in the workplace, so give them the opportunity to speak up about the topic at hand or ask questions. Everyone deserves the option to speak. Create rules so people are comfortable voicing their thoughts and so the meeting isn’t taken over by employees who enjoy talking a lot.

Create Detailed Agendas for Meetings

Another aspect of helping employees be prepared for meetings is to send a detailed agenda before the meeting occurs. This step prepares introverts and extroverts for the meeting. It also allows them to properly organize any notes, documentation, or slides needed to participate effectively.

Having a schedule for every meeting also helps participants stay on track, thus respecting everyone’s time and ensuring all meetings serve a purpose. It’s easy for a meeting to go off the rails in a remote environment, so make sure the agenda explains the purpose behind each discussion. Everyone can walk away with action items or an idea of what happens next with a project.

Offer “Solitary” Team Building

Most introverts will enjoy participating in team building activities if they are given options or it caters to their sense of solitude. Some companies offer free yoga or meditation sessions online, and everyone can have their cameras off. Even though only one person leads this type of activity, employees still feel engaged because they are participating.

Services like reELIVATE let you choose fun virtual events for your team, like “lip reading,” tai chi, and succulent care. It’s possible to have a fun team building activity without requiring everyone to participate in icebreakers or speak.

Don’t Schedule Back-to-Back Meetings

Many introverts need time between meetings to recharge. Remind your teams not to schedule back-to-back meetings for employees. Instead, allow employees to take a mental break, decompress, stretch their legs, get some water, or go to the restroom. Even just 15 minutes between calls can help employees feel more energized and prepared for the next meeting they log in to.

Leadership teams must remember that not all employees have the same working style. No matter how much or little they like to talk, most employees appreciate detailed agendas for meetings and breaks between meetings during the workday. Leaders should be aware of how people on their team like to work and try to organize meetings and other events accordingly.

Remote Employee Engagement is Worth the Effort

All employees, remote or not, appreciate when companies make the effort to accommodate their work styles and preferences. As your company strives to improve employee engagement, be sure to monitor work-life balance, too. Remote employees may find the lines between work life and personal life blur. In addition to employing the strategies listed above, keep an eye out for signs of burnout, and consider adding perks and benefits to help prevent it. For instance, apps like Calm offer company memberships so an employee can access meditations, breathing exercises, and calming bedtime stories for free.

Finally, consider picking up informative books, such as Quiet by Susan McCain and Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson to foster important discussions about employees’ different personality styles. These conversations may be harder to have when employees are remote, but they’re no less important. By building a remote culture that takes personality into account, your employees will know they are appreciated and will feel the drive to be engaged at work, even though not everyone is physically in the same office.

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