The digital age has made remote work possible, and with the restrictions imposed as per the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, it has become the norm of work. This presents new challenges for managers and business leaders, as they need to develop effective strategies to keep their remote staff engaged and motivated.
Working remotely has many advantages, such as flexibility, better work-life balance, and lack of the daily commute. However, it can also increase feelings of isolation and disconnection from the company’s culture and other team members. In this article, we will discuss some of the most effective engagement strategies to keep your remote staff connected, motivated and working efficiently to ensure the growth and success of your organization.
Communication is the foundation of every successful business, and it is even more critical when your staff is working remotely. It is essential to have regular virtual check-ins to ensure that your remote staff is in-sync with the company’s goals and plans. A successful organization cannot survive without a shared understanding of common goals, achievable objectives, and the roadmap to achieve these goals.
Remote employees may miss out on some of the essential “water cooler conversations” and interactions, leading to feelings of disconnect from the rest of the team. Set up effective communication channels that simulate normal in-person conversations as much as possible. Encourage your remote staff to use real-time communication technology, such as instant messaging services, video conferencing tools, and project management platforms, to stay in touch with other team members. Encourage remote staff to respond to communication promptly to avoid missed messages, opportunities, and unanswered questions.
Collaboration is essential to the success of your remote team. It doesn’t matter whether your team handles projects individually or in groups. Ensure that your remote staff can collaborate efficiently as a team, department or company. Providing project management software such as Asana or Trello is an excellent way to enable your remote staff to collaborate effectively while staying organized. One of the benefits of project management tools is that they keep the team in sync with task assignments, deadlines, and overall progress.
In addition to project management tools, encourage collaboration through brainstorming and team-building activities. These could involve team activities such as virtual workshops, webinars, and hackathons. Such activities boost morale, promote teamwork, and create a sense of community among remote staff. You could also host online gaming and happy hours that the team can participate in after work.
Provide the Right Tools
As with any physical job, remote workers require the right tools to succeed. It is crucial to ensure that your remote staff has the hardware, software, and tech support they need to work effectively. Advancements in technology allow remote staff to access most of the organization’s data and tools remotely. However, remote staff will require hardware such as laptops or desktops, a high-speed internet connection, and security software to safeguard against cyber-attacks.
Provide access to training to ensure that they can use company-specific tools, such as time tracking and project management tools, to perform their jobs effectively. Providing access to training resources such as online training portals or pre-recorded webinars can provide your remote staff with the training necessary to work effectively. Confidence from proper training translates to significant productivity and motivation improvements.
Providing feedback is crucial for remote employees to succeed. Without the traditional in-person interactions, feedback can be difficult to get. It is essential to provide feedback regularly, based on pre-defined metrics to help remote staff keep on track with their work. Provide well-defined targets, expectations, and goals that can be clearly measured, alongside appropriate feedback channels. A culture of feedback contributes to developing a healthy and productive work environment.
Feedback is not limited to negative comments only. When remote staff did well on a project, assign the praise to prove that the manager is paying attention to their work. Regular positive feedback leads to the deeper engagement of remote staff and increased job satisfaction. Make sure any feedback is timely, so your remote staff can correct any mistakes before they become unmanageable or before the project is over.
Support Employee Wellbeing
As remote work implies little physical separation between work and personal life, it can be difficult for remote staff members to detach from their work. Given the ongoing situation with the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s fair to say that most employees are still navigating a delicate balance between work and personal life.
Supporting remote staff wellbeing is important in keeping them motivated and engaged. Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression affect remote staff members at alarming rates. Encourage your remote staff to take care of their mental health, taking regular breaks, and avoiding burnout. You could also provide access to virtual fitness classes or meditation sessions to encourage self-care.
Celebrating successes encourages remote staff to feel connected to their colleagues and the larger company culture. Recognize team members when they accomplish milestones or exceed expectations in their work. Create a culture of appreciation, with incentives that are important to the remote staff.
Celebrate significant company milestones and use rewards or bonuses to motivate them further. Offering small monetary incentives or perks makes remote employees feel appreciated even when they are not physically with the team, providing a sense of belonging, and boosts morale.
Remote work has been on the rise in recent years and the trend is only expected to continue. While there are many advantages to working remotely such as flexibility, the ability to work from anywhere, and improved work-life balance, there are also some challenges, particularly when it comes to employee engagement. With remote employees scattered across different locations, it can be difficult for them to feel connected, engaged and valued.
As a manager, it is important to find ways to keep employees engaged and motivated, help them feel part of the team, and create a sense of community. This article will explore 10 unique engagement ideas that managers can implement to make sure their remote employees feel valued and part of the team, and ultimately, increase their productivity.
Virtual Guessing Games
Virtual guessing games are a fun and effective way to engage remote employees. They can be organized around a theme such as “Guess the Baby Picture” or “Guess the Employee’s Pet”. Employees can submit their pictures in advance and during the game session, other employees will guess which employee each picture belongs to. The employee with the most correct answers wins the game.
This game is an opportunity for employees to get to know each other beyond their job functions and opens up opportunities to chat with each other afterwards. It is an easy and accessible way for them to have a good laugh and bond with their colleagues.
Virtual Happy Hours
One of the best ways to connect with colleagues in an office environment is over a drink after work. However, remote work presents a challenge when it comes to socializing. Virtual happy hours eliminate this challenge by creating an environment where remote employees can share stories and ideas over a drink or two. Managers can organize virtual happy hours on a regular basis, or they can be spontaneous events.
Virtual happy hours are a great way to destress and unwind from a busy workday, and provide an opportunity for employees to get to know their colleagues outside of regular work-related conversations. It is also an opportunity for managers to show their employees appreciation and boost morale.
Virtual Guest Speakers
Inviting a guest speaker to address remote employees on topics related to their industry is another engaging idea. This can be done through a virtual platform where the guest can share their experiences, offer advice, and answer questions from employees. The speakers can come from different industries and can offer different perspectives.
This activity gives remote employees the chance to learn and connect with people from related fields, which can broaden their knowledge and understanding of their industry. It also provides them with the opportunity to ask questions and get feedback directly from an expert in the field.
Virtual Book Clubs
A virtual book club can be set up to encourage remote employees to read and discuss books that are relevant to their industry or that they find interesting. This can take place once a month and employees can participate through a virtual meeting platform. Employees can share their thoughts and ideas about the book in a virtual meeting once a month.
This activity can create a learning-oriented culture where employees can engage with each other intellectually and learn new things. It provides an environment for employees to discuss new ideas and share their thoughts and reflections about their work.
Pairing remote workers with mentors can be a great way to improve engagement, build bonds between colleagues, and help employees feel a sense of connection with their co-workers. Virtual mentoring can be arranged in either an informal or formal structure, where employees can offer structured, one-on-one coaching or participate in virtual group mentoring sessions with employees from different levels and departments.
Virtual mentoring provides a platform for mentees to learn from experienced mentors, and for mentors to provide guidance, advice and support. It strengthens the bonds between employees and encourages a culture of professional development.
Virtual Volunteer Events
Virtual volunteering events are a great way for remote employees to engage in their communities and contribute to society. Companies can collaborate with non-profit organizations to create volunteering opportunities where employees can use their skills to volunteer for a day and contribute to a worthy cause.
This activity provides employees with an opportunity to do something positive for their community and can create a sense of pride and accomplishment. It is an excellent way to show employees they work for a company with values, and to highlight the importance of giving back to society.
Virtual Game Tournaments
Virtual game tournaments provide a fun and engaging environment where remote employees can connect and bond with each other. These tournaments can range from video games to board games, and employees can form teams with one another to compete against each other in a fun and engaging environment.
Virtual game tournaments encourage healthy competition among employees and build camaraderie among team members. It provides employees with a chance to destress and get their competitive juices flowing.
Virtual Team Building Activities
Virtual team building activities are an important part of keeping remote employees connected and engaged. These activities should be designed to encourage teamwork, improve communication, and build trust among team members. Managers can use icebreakers, trivia games, brainstorming sessions, and other activities to help employees connect.
Virtual team building activities encourage employees to interact with each other in a fun and relaxed way. It facilitates relationship building and helps to create a sense of community within the organization.
Virtual Fitness Classes
It is essential for remote employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and fitness plays an important role in maintaining good health. Virtual fitness classes can be organized through a subscription model and can include activities such as yoga, Pilates, or meditation.
Virtual fitness classes provide employees with an opportunity to stay fit and healthy, and to interact with colleagues who share similar interests. It encourages healthy behaviors, which can translate into better work performance and productivity.
Virtual Awards and Recognition
Recognizing and appreciating the hard work of remote employees is essential. Virtual award ceremonies can be organized to recognize exceptional work, which can promote healthy team dynamics and create a feeling of appreciation for remote workers. It incentivizes employees to continue working hard and motivates them to do better.
Virtual award ceremonies serve to recognize the hard work and dedication of remote employees, and provide a platform for sharing successes and accomplishments. It also provides an opportunity for managers to recognize remote employees who may otherwise be overlooked.
Establishing good engagement practices ensures that the remote staff is integrated, connected and motivated throughout their tenure with your organization. Success in remote work rests on effective communication channels, collaboration platforms, access to training tools, regular feedback channels, support for employee wellbeing, and available resources.
As an employer, you must understand that communication is the foundation of a successful and productive remote team. The tools and resources you provide to the remote staff, coupled with regular feedback and positive reinforcement, will inevitably lead to a motivated workforce. An engaged team will lead to increased productivity, higher job satisfaction, and success for your organization in the long run.