Written by Higson

Remote leadership: how to increase employee engagement

29th April, 2020   •   3 min

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way” – John Maxwell

Many of us find ourselves thrown into a new way of leading our teams. Where once we could rely on behavioural cues, chats in the kitchen and walking and talking between meetings to get a check on how our team are doing, now we have to read what is really behind their smiling face over video.

There are a few things as leaders we now need to do differently to be an effective leader and keep teams engaged in this new virtual world.

Why is it important to keep your team engaged?

Engaged employees make:

  • 2.5 times the revenue
  • 20% more sales
  • 40% fewer mistakes

…and they are 87% less likely to leave.

Here are five strategies you can use to increase employee engagement, even when remote.

1. Have fun

As the adhoc social team interactions are missing, casual chats over making a cup of tea to swap stories and laugh together, it’s more important now than ever to create this space virtually.

When the team ‘play’ together they build a stronger sense of trust and communication. These are two important things to build and nurture as your team work remotely.

Action: book one weekly fun activity as a team. It can be as simple as a 20 minute quiz in the slump of your day.

If you’re looking for ideas, some of the playdates that we have done at Higson are: painting each other’s portrait, team drink, a quiz about the team, virtual bake off and team dance-off!

2. Keep a good leadership routine

With so much change it is easy to divert from our usual routine. It is important to keep and build a good routine with the team and not forget that the most important job you can do right now is keep your team motivated and engaged. Neglecting this, you might be left without a team to lead.


  • Have your one to ones at a regular time each week, and keep having those one to ones
  • Keep regular team meetings, even though you may have to prepare to run them in a different way
  • Have a morning ten minute team catch up to set goals for the day; you can do this as a stand-up call to keep it high-energy and fast-paced
  • Encourage your team to share three positives on a team channel at the end of each day

3. Trust your team

We can’t see our team sitting across from us in the office. Now we have to trust them to do their work. And we should. Be more flexible with the hours they want to work, we are all productive at slightly different times.

When individuals have ownership over their time they produce a higher quality of work and are more invested. Improved trust leads to more productive and fulfilled teams.

Avoid checking if they are online, or asking why they didn’t reply to your email. Let your team know you trust them to be productive and achieve their goals. As long as you have set clear goals and expectations with them first, you may find you get more from your team at this time.

4. Show recognition

This is an absolutely crucial, and an easy one to forget when you are not seeing your team as often. We may have to show recognition in new ways.

This can be as simple as an email to say how much you appreciate the work they have done, or some praise in your one to one on a great meeting they ran or you could even post them a thank you card.

One of the greatest ways of recognition is showing your team that you care. You can do this through the simple act of listening, really listening. Not listening to reply, listening to hear what they are saying. Be genuinely interested in what each individual has to say and give them your attention to show you care.

Action: everyone likes to be recognised in a different way, learn how your team like to be recognised.