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Building a Stronger Remote Team: Engagement Ideas You Need to Try

Remote work has become increasingly common in today’s business world, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As businesses shift to a remote work environment, the focus has shifted towards creating an engaging work culture for remote employees. Engaging a remote team is difficult since team members are no longer in a physical office but working from different locations worldwide. Team managers need to find ways to motivate, encourage, and maintain team members’ productivity even when they are not in the same workspace. That’s why it’s essential to build a strong remote team that fosters teamwork, trust, and open dialogue.

Creating an engaging remote team starts by understanding what works best for remote employees. In this article, we will explore some practical ideas for engaging your remote team, building a stronger team, and creating a work culture that fosters optimal performance.

Establish Open Communication Channels

Clear and open communication is the foundation of working effectively in a remote team. Communication channels such as email, phone, and instant messaging alone may not suffice for a remote team. Videoconferencing and collaboration tools are more robust substitutes for in-person communication, but getting the most out of communication means more than this. To create effective communication channels, try to:

  • Foster an environment of openness: Employee feedback, ideas, and contributions should be valuable and appreciated.
  • Schedule regular one-on-one employee meetings: Regular meetings help managers stay informed about their employees’ progress, and employees can use them to raise issues, news or discuss challenges they’re facing.
  • Regularly schedule team huddles/team meetings: Encourage team members to speak up and share any updates, concerns, or questions.
  • Be proactive: Managers should try to initiate conversations and respond quickly to emails, messages and other queries to prevent communication gaps and delays.

Create Virtual Water Coolers

In a physical office, employee interactions are much easier and more natural. Coffee breaks, lunch breaks, and hallway conversations all contribute to team bonding and rapport building. Remote work eliminates this aspect of working together, which makes it even harder to cultivate a stable team environment. Here are some ways to recreate the water cooler chats in your remote team:

  • Host virtual events: Organize virtual social events like virtual happy hours, virtual game nights, trivia quizzes, and more.
  • Use instant messaging apps: Encourage informal conversations within the team through messaging applications like Slack or MS Teams. Social threads can be created where team members are free to share non-work information.
  • Recognize impact players: Try to recognize and appreciate team players with a virtual ‘shout-out’ or through internal communication.
  • Set up virtual coffee dates: Pair team members up for virtual coffee talks in place of the typical impromptu chats.

Celebrate Personal Milestones

In a remote team, it’s essential to show individual team members that they are essential to your company. It’s easy for remote contributors to feel like they are just another piece of the puzzle, but creating a remote employee recognition program will help make individual team members feel recognized and valued. Here are some ways to celebrate personal milestones with remote employees:

  • Celebrate important events: Celebrate employee birthdays, hire anniversaries, significant life events like weddings, baby showers, etc.
  • Recognize outstanding work: Let team members know when their work was exceptional, and ensure everyone knows who made it happen.
  • Use virtual celebrations: Organize a group video call with fellow team members and express your appreciation and congratulations for an employee’s personal milestone.

Encourage Continuous Learning

Continuous learning is vital in business, and it’s no different when it comes to remote teams. Both individual team performance and overall business performance are improved when remote team members are appropriately trained to carry out their respective roles. By investing in continuous learning, team members stay up-to-date with emerging trends, changes, and technological advancements, ensuring they can excel at current and future tasks. Here are several ways to accomplish this:

  • Provide access to remote learning resources: Invest in learning management systems (LMS) that allow for personalized and self-paced learning that is tailored to different employees’ needs and schedules.
  • Encourage knowledge sharing: Encourage team members to share insights and best practices with the rest of the team from the experts in your company.
  • Support certification programs: Cover the cost of certifications that add value to a team member’s specific job role so they can be more effective in their day-to-day.

Foster a Healthy Work-life Balance

Remote work can often blur the lines between work and personal time. This constant mode of interaction impairs the hourly work-life balance, causing fatigue, burnout, disinterest, and low productivity. As a result, it is necessary to prioritize work-life balance in any remote team formation. Some ways to do this are:

  • Encourage Time Management: Help remote employees manage their time by setting realistic expectations on task completion.
  • Encourage Breaks and rest time: Encourage team members to take breaks to boost productivity and stay motivated. Work-related breaks such as physical exercise, meditation, or mindfulness, where employees step away from their usual workspace, are particularly effective.
  • Set Remote Work Guidelines: Introduce and enforce remote work guidelines to prevent burnout.

Provide Regular Feedback

Remote employees require consistent feedback to ensure they stay on track and understand their performance. Feedback needs to be delivered powerfully and in a timely manner, to reduce lag time and ensure that the team’s goals are being met. Consider the following approaches to providing feedback:

  • Encourage Regular Performance Evaluation: Employ regular performance evaluations, whether on a quarterly, bi-annual, or annual basis, to provide insight beyond just general feedback.
  • Provide Constructive Criticism: Feedback provided should always be constructive, specific, and actionable. This includes pointing out the employee’s strengths and where improvements are needed.
  • Support Employee Career Growth: When providing feedback, managers should also identify areas where employees can grow their skills and provide tools and resources to help them expand their skill sets.

Make Work Objectives Clear

Any team’s goals need to be well-defined, communicated, and consistently updated. Remote team members need to be able to understand how their work ties in with the overall success of a company. They need to understand the team’s vision, strategic goals, as well as their role within the team. Here are several strategies to achieve this:

  • Communicate Goals and Vision: Consistently communicate your company’s broader vision as well as specific organizational values and goals.
  • Ensure Accessibility: Provide access to regularly updated objectives to ensure these goals are known to every team member.
  • Encourage Collaboration: Encourage team members to identify areas of overlap and opportunities for collaboration among team members.


Remote work is accessible, cost-effective, and, at times, a necessity. It has its benefits, but also its challenges. One major challenge lies in engaging remote employees, helping them stay on track, and keeping morale high while they work from different locations around the world. Team managers must find innovative ways to communicate, maintain open dialogue, foster healthy work-life balance, and ensure that employees understand organizational goals to ensure team success.

Company leaders should stay in touch with employees, using innovative communication tools and strategies, and stay true to the unique specifics of remote team management throughout. Ultimately, the most engaged remote teams develop a significant sense of belonging, that one-another’s contributions are valuable, and that the work they do has a long-term impact on the organization’s mission. By applying these tips and understanding individual needs, any company can improve its remote team engagement and collaboration, boosting individual employee satisfaction and overall team morale.

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