Remote work is becoming the norm across a variety of industries. Through the continuing pandemic, more and more companies are transitioning to part or full time remote work. This allows vulnerable employees to work safely and structures time more efficiently for everyone involved.
Working remotely has tons of benefits—chief among them saving time and money—but it has as many downsides, and many of those downsides are personal. Remote work lacks engagement and connection, and many companies are looking for ways to unite their workforce when everyone is spread apart.
So, how do you retain company standards, values, and connections in this remote world?
Table of Contents
Ways to Keep Remote Employees Engaged
- Stay Connected Through Technology
- Encourage Health and Wellness
- Make Sure Employees Feel Heard and Valued
- Establish and Build Trust With Your Team
- Foster Personal Connections
- Introduce Team Building Games and Activities
- Create a Watercooler
- Ask For and Listen to Feedback
- Keep the Lines of Communication Open
- Recognize Employee Contributions
- Gamify Your Teamwork
- Encourage Employee Side Projects
Stay Connected Through Technology
By using communications technology effectively, we can keep our remote employees connected and forge new bonds!
Zoom, Slack, and other communication software can keep us all united. If you encourage your employees to use this technology beyond work necessities, you can foster a synthesis between team members. Video conferencing, email, text, screen sharing, and more can help integrate people and keep them feeling like they are part of a team.
Encourage Health and Wellness
The overall health and wellness of your employees should be a priority, and that goes double for mental health. Employees might get sick and call out of work, but how often do you know the mental state of your team members? While it is important to encourage good eating habits and exercise, you need to also periodically check in on the wellbeing of your employees and make sure their needs are being met.
Healthy employees that feel cared for will bring more to the job, and feel like they are an important part of the team. Encourage daily mindfulness exercises, breaks, and healthy habits. Ask your employees to check in with one another and maintain weekly or biweekly check-ins with all of your remote staff. It’s more important than ever to prevent virtual fatigue.
Make Sure Employees Feel Heard and Valued
All human beings deserve to feel loved and appreciated. While we are distanced, you might have to make an extra effort to ensure that your staff feels seen, understood, and important.
Send people gifts and cards on their birthdays. Praise people when they do good work. Schedule calls with the team to celebrate accomplishments and milestones. Show your workers you care about them by investing your time and energy into their wellbeing. And finally, you can reduce overall miscommunications in the team by ensuring you are always available for honest and constructive feedback.
Establish and Build Trust With Your Team
Your team needs time, structure, and space to embrace risk and try new things. Creativity is built on exploration and effort, and your team wants to know that you believe in them. Your managers shouldn’t be micromanaging—they need to give employees space to act in their best interests and do the work they were hired to do. Check-ins are fine, but don’t overdo it.
Make sure that you’re providing feedback, addressing issues, and keeping everyone motivated. You can increase your transparency with your team by introducing them to potential hires, showing them future goals, sharing positive client reviews, and including them in company decisions. When your team feels like they’re in the loop, they’ll feel like they belong to the company and have intrinsic value.
When you keep your remote employees engaged, they will build trust with you and want to stick around!
Foster Personal Connections
Don’t lose sight of the fact that your group of hired professionals are just human beings. Your workers have highs and lows, good days and bad days, strengths and weaknesses. You need to foster your relationship with them in order to see them grow, and pay attention to more than their professional accomplishments.
Learn as much about your workers as you can, and engage with them on a level of the things they love. Give them rewards related to their passions, and show them you care by responding to what they like and who they are. Engagement is more than checking off a list of things they enjoy, however. Your employees will notice when your interest is real or feigned.
Introduce Team Building Games and Activities
Team building games and activities are a great way to engage your remote employees and destress everyone at the same time. Games and activities foster healthy working relationships, creating better employee retention, increased productivity, and improved team member satisfaction. Remote team building has been proven to make employees feel more involved in the workplace.
Remote workers statistically have weaker working relationships with their coworkers, and so you will have to make a concerted effort to strengthen these bonds. Managers who engage with their workers and build human connections create overall inclusion, and there’s no greater way to do this than to play some games!
Create a Watercooler
Don’t squash watercooler talk—encourage it. Your remote workers aren’t often following the strict 9-to-5 model, and so their chit chat has to change as well. Human interaction is especially important right now, and you might be amazed to find the working benefits of allowing casual chat.
Create a virtual watercooler platform that lets your team members talk about things that aren’t related to work. You can make a Slack channel that’s just for casual conversation, a place for your employees to take a break from the day and talk about the newest Netflix show or Marvel movie. Watercooler channels can also be a place to share music by making a shared Spotify playlist or talk about holiday plans.
Ask For and Listen to Feedback
Asking for feedback is one thing—it’s listening to the results that really matter. Communicating with your employees is vitally important, especially when you make major decisions or change goals and policies. Employees that feel valued become more engaged, and stay with the company longer.
Ask for and give constructive feedback. Give your employees opportunities to grow within their space.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Remote employees might feel like they’re not on the same page as their coworkers, especially when workers exist in different time zones. It’s not really possible to expect that everyone is available all hours of the day, but people should feel like they can reach out to their colleagues when they need something, and stay in touch via the communication features at their disposal. We can all feel more connected if we know that we have access to one another in some way, and that the lines of communication are always open.
Recognize Employee Contributions
We all work for a paycheck, but a paycheck is no measure of gratitude. When we share positive feedback and great customer reviews we establish bonds that help us engage with our work on a more impactful level. This is one of the most effective employee engagement ideas.
It’s free, easy, and necessary to be generous with praise and acknowledgement. When you recognize employee contributions, you show them that their work and time is valued. Everyone wants to feel as though they are pulling their weight and doing something that matters, and showing your appreciation is an incredibly effective way to engage with remote employees.
Gamify Your Teamwork
The concept of gamification is a simple one: apply elements of game playing to nongame environments. Gamification is a popular way for companies to promote customer and coworker loyalty and engagement while keeping things fun. Promoting rewards and competitions for mundane everyday tasks is a fantastic team building concept.
Gamified management systems help standardize performance across the board and help engage remote employees on another level. Gamification also helps you legitimize promotion opportunities and help your managers correctly gauge where everyone is at. Virtual team building is fun and engaging!
Encourage Employee Side Projects
This one might sound strange to some management styles, but giving your remote employees room to work on side projects encourages overall innovations. These days people are doing whatever they can to earn some extra money, and incentivizing side projects can often reinvigorate remote employees that feel drained by their everyday tasks.
Engaging your employees can be somewhat of a challenge, but if you stay open minded and available you should be able to create a new standard for team expectation. Remember, your employees are people just like you, and when you satisfy their needs and help them with their troubles, they will be able to give back to you in profound ways.