Engaging employees is already hard, and doing so in a remote work era is even harder. Or is it? Let’s explore these exciting ideas to keep your remote team motivated and productive easily!
After the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has become our new normal. And while remote work offers undeniable advantages, it also introduces distinctive challenges in terms of engaging employees.
Since remote employees are physically distanced from their colleagues and the company, the task of keeping teams engaged, motivated, and connected has become more complex than ever before.
It requires HR professionals to actively seek out innovative methods to keep their remote teams engaged.
In this article, we will uncover the 20 best employee engagement practices specifically tailored to the remote work era.
These strategies are designed to not only keep your remote teams motivated but also enhance their productivity.
So, if you're seeking effective solutions to fortify your remote workforce, read on and discover the keys to a more engaged and thriving team in this new era of work.
Why do we need virtual employee engagement ideas?
Remote employee engagement aims to foster a positive and fulfilling work experience for remote teams.
Employees who work remotely often feel isolated and disconnected from their colleagues, resulting in reduced motivation and productivity.
According to the 2022 State of Remote Work survey, 52% of participants reported a decreased sense of work-related connection, and 21% experienced challenges in maintaining focus on their tasks.
Remote employee engagement practices are designed to solve this problem.
By creating a nurturing work environment where remote employees feel valued and connected, they will be more productive and less likely to leave.
A new meta-analysis shows that high employee engagement reports 22% higher productivity.
Ultimately, high remote employee engagement contributes to the success of the entire team.
20 best employee engagement practices for remote team
Implement a remote onboarding program
A well-structured remote onboarding checklist is essential for new hires and existing employees transitioning to remote work.
Provide comprehensive training, resources, and introductions to company culture, policies, and tools to ensure a smooth start in the remote work environment.
Offer flexibility schedule
According to McKinsey, flexible work policies are ranked as the third most vital factor for job seekers to consider.
That’s why you should provide employees with the flexibility to choose when and where they work.
A flexible policy allows remote team members to adapt their work schedules to suit their personal needs and preferences, promoting a healthier work-life balance.
Adopting hybrid work
You can set a few days each week or month when employees can work from the office to alleviate work-from-home fatigue.
This arrangement offers several advantages, both personally and professionally.
Personally, your employees can enjoy the social interaction associated with being in the office.
On a professional level, working at the office facilitates easier collaboration on projects with colleagues. It leads to increased productivity and efficiency when working on specific tasks.
Introduce them to in-house employees
Establishing connections between remote employees and their in-house counterparts is essential for building a cohesive team.
Since your in-house employees might never interact with your remote workers, you should get them all on a video call and ask them to introduce themselves to their co-workers. Maybe assigning them to work together on some internal project can help them get along with each other faster.
You can prepare some questions to help them break the ice at first.
Trust is the cornerstone of effective remote work.
When leading the remote team, resist the temptation to micromanage. Instead, focus on outcomes and goals, providing the autonomy they need to excel in their roles.
Trusting your team members to manage their tasks independently can lead to increased motivation and job satisfaction.
Conduct regular goal-setting and performance reviews
Implement a structured performance review process for remote employees. These reviews can be conducted remotely through video conferences or written reports.
By regularly sharing feedback and evaluations, you provide remote team members with a clear understanding of their strengths, areas for improvement, and overall contributions to the team's goals.
This transparent approach fosters professional growth, trust, and a sense of involvement, which are vital aspects of employee engagement.
Host regular virtual meetings
Communication is paramount in remote teams.
Regular virtual meetings, both one-on-one and team-wide, help maintain clear lines of communication, provide opportunities for feedback, and create a sense of connection among team members.
These meetings can address concerns, discuss project progress, and strengthen team bonds.
Invest in a virtual collaboration platform
Remote work heavily relies on effective digital communication and collaboration.
Investing in a robust virtual collaboration platform is necessary to provide remote employees with the tools they need to work seamlessly together.
Platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom offer chat, video conferencing, document sharing, and project management capabilities.
These tools enable remote employees to connect, share ideas, and collaborate in real-time, fostering a sense of teamwork and productivity.
Build an internal company social media
This digital space can serve as a virtual water cooler, allowing remote team members to connect, share updates, celebrate achievements, and engage in casual conversations.
Such platforms help bridge the gap between remote workers, instilling a sense of belonging and camaraderie within the company.
Focus on well-being
LinkedIn 2022 global talent trends report highlights the desire of millennials and Gen Z for a work culture centered around mental health and wellness.
Thus, you should prioritize both the physical and mental well-being of remote employees.
Offer resources and support to help them maintain a healthy work-life balance and cope with the challenges of remote work. For example, you can offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), virtual therapy sessions, stress management webinars, etc.
Consider implementing well-being initiatives, such as yoga classes, fitness challenges, or mental health awareness campaigns.
These efforts not only support employee health but also demonstrate that the organization values its remote workforce's overall wellness.
Allocate funds for the home office
Recognize that remote employees may require specific tools and resources to create a productive work environment at home.
Allocate a budget or provide stipends to support the purchase of essential office equipment, ergonomic furniture, and technology upgrades.
This investment demonstrates your commitment to their comfort and productivity.
Keep in mind that this is only a small portion of the cost of maintaining a traditional office space!
Acknowledge individual employees’ achievements
Recognizing individual hard work will make your employees feel recognized, valued, and more engaged.
Studies show that employees who do not receive recognition have over double the intention to leave, and companies that emphasize employee recognition have 31% lower voluntary turnover.
Thus, you should celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of remote employees. Regularly acknowledge their achievements through personalized recognition, awards, or public shout-outs during virtual meetings.
You can also organize friendly internal competitions with attractive awards, such as creative contests, idea competitions, or brainstorming battles.
This not only fosters a lively work environment but also encourages healthy competition among employees.
Host casual hangouts online
Encourage informal virtual gatherings for your remote team members.
These casual hangouts provide an opportunity for team members to socialize, share stories, and build personal connections that go beyond work-related conversations.
You can consider hosting virtual breaktime tea, happy hours, or virtual movie-watch parties.
Show and tell
This is a fun employee engagement activity that allows team members to share personal interests, hobbies, or unique experiences with their colleagues.
For this activity, you should ask them to show a photo, object, or even their pet that holds significant meaning to them. Then, let them tell a story behind it and explain why it holds such value for them.
You can spend a short session conducting this activity at the end of each online team meeting.
It not only helps remote employees get to know each other better but also humanizes the virtual work environment, making it more enjoyable and relatable.
Invite remote employees to give virtual tours of their home offices.
This practice provides insight into each team member's living and working environment, fostering transparency and a sense of trust.
It's an excellent way for colleagues to learn more about each other's working conditions and create empathy for their unique situations.
However, be sure to make it optional. Some people aren’t comfortable showing their house, and that’s okay.
Offer online training
Invest in your remote team's professional development by offering online training and skill-building opportunities.
Provide access to courses, workshops, and webinars that help employees expand their knowledge and stay updated in their respective fields.
Supporting continuous learning not only enhances their skills but also demonstrates your commitment to their growth.
Give gifts and bonuses
Show your appreciation by presenting remote team members with thoughtful gifts on special occasions or as rewards for their accomplishments.
Whether it's holiday presents or bonuses for outstanding performance, these tokens of recognition demonstrate that their contributions are valued and celebrated.
Invite to play multiplayer online games
Organize fun multiplayer online game sessions as a team-building activity.
Gaming fosters collaboration, communication, and friendly competition among remote team members. It's an enjoyable way to break the monotony of work, promote team bonding, and improve overall morale.
For an office-friendly choice, think about playing online games such as drawing games, word games, or personal facts guessing games.
If your team members are avid gamers, you can invite them to play popular online role-playing games like World of Warcraft, Minecraft, or Roblox.
Ask for feedback
Regularly seek feedback from remote employees about their work experiences, challenges, and suggestions for improvement.
Then, act on the feedback received to address concerns, implement positive changes, and show that their voices are heard and valued.
Celebrate special days together
Despite geographical distances, make an effort to mark significant events and milestones collectively.
You should host virtual celebrations for holidays like Christmas, New Year, or Thanksgiving, organize virtual birthday parties for team members, and recognize work anniversaries with appreciation messages and virtual festivities.
These celebrations not only foster a sense of togetherness but also show that you value and care for your remote employees' personal and professional lives.
By sharing in these special moments, you can enhance engagement and create lasting memories within your remote team. And this is also a great way to enhance your employer branding.
By implementing these best employee engagement practices, you can unleash the full potential of your remote teams. As a result, you will cultivate a motivated, connected, and highly productive remote workforce that will contribute significantly to the company's success.