Identifying Disengaged Employees on Remote Teams

Aug 08, 2022
Identifying Disengaged Employees on Remote Teams

As we wave goodbye to the summer and head into autumn, remote work is now well past its transition phase and many of us have settled into a more permanent remote work routine. Some organizations have been able to successfully re-align their workflow and effectively manage this transition while maintaining strong employee engagement. Nonetheless, even in effective organizations the strains of working from home can negatively impact company culture and hurt employee engagement.

For some employees, remote work offers many advantages such as greater flexibility and time saving on not commuting. For others however, the shift to remote work has been a difficult balancing act. Some common issues are frustration with collaboration processes, trouble maintaining a work/life balance, as well as a lack of feedback and recognition. Over time, these issues can erode employee engagement and lead employees to gradually check out. It’s important to recognize and respond to signs of disengagement as early as possible, especially with remote workers who may be harder to identify.

Signs of Disengagement

Withdrawal from Team Building Activities

Virtual team-building events have become a staple of remote work culture and are essential for strengthening employee relationships. While some employees are naturally more introverted than others, over time they should become less hesitant to open up and mix with their team. When an employee becomes increasingly withdrawn over time and less interested in connecting with teammates, consider it a red flag.

Inconsistency and Unreliability

All employees have off days. But, when a previously responsible employee begins to miss deadlines and provide inconsistent effort from one day to the next, it’s a sign of dwindling motivation. Engaged employees strive for high quality work and care about achieving goals, both personal and organizational. The issue may be related to poor employee engagement, or something external that is impacting their performance. It’s critical that a manager or supervisor reaches out to discover the reason.


Engaged employees view new challenges and responsibilities as avenues to personal and professional development. In addition, they are willing to volunteer new ideas and attempt to revise and improve existing processes. When employees consistently show a lack of initiative and can be seen simply going through the motions, it’s a clear sign that they are not engaged in their work.

Exhibiting Burnout and Exhaustion

Remote work means many people are now struggling with new responsibilities and concerns in their average day, from finances to health. Sometimes these issues are not instantly recognizable in a group video call or team check-in. Managers should pay careful attention for signs of fatigue or exhaustion. It may be an employee frequently referencing how tired they are, appearing exhausted, avoiding video calls, or even increased absences. These employees may need some adjustments in their routine and to revisit their expectations in order to gain some breathing room.

Responding to Disengaged Employees

Disengaged employees may exhibit one or any combination of the above issues, but what they have in common is a noticeable decline in their performance and motivation. Rather than simply reiterating expectations across the board, managers may find it more helpful to approach an employee directly through a private conversation. Employees will, in most cases, appreciate the opportunity to express how they are struggling, even if they decline to identify the exact issues.

In addition to consistent one-on-ones, an employee engagement survey is another effective tool to uncover the challenges remote employees are facing. With so many recent changes, now is the perfect time to invest in understanding what areas are working well for employees and where they are struggling. Consulting them will also help employees feel more valued, empowered, and engaged in the day to day operations of their team.

To learn more about the services Flex Surveys offers and how they can help your team, contact us at 877.327.5085 or visit our Contact Page to set up a demo.

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