As much as we often don't openly give credit to the effects of the pandemic in the business world, the post-pandemic period has seen more businesses opt for the work from home option. Depending on the nature of the business, having employees work remotely created new opportunities to maximize productivity and profits while cutting down on some costs.
However, working remotely posed problems for many managers when it came to employee engagement. As such, remote employee engagement ideas and questions became one of the new hurdles for HRs to overcome. The article examines some employee engagement ideas for remote workers that business owners or HR managers can incorporate to improve employee inclusiveness.
What it Means to Keep Your Remote Employees Engaged
Remote employee engagement is a set of processes and activities to ensure a company's remote employees feel satisfied and content with working for the company. As humans, we tend to do out best work when we feel appreciated and valued by our employer and peers. These remote employee engagement ideas have been proven to enhance employees' productivity and performance.
Here are some of their benefits and how they increase employee engagement.
To keep them motivated
Given the right work tools and workstations for seamless collaboration, statistics show that more employees would opt to work from home than endure the commute to work.
At first, this can seem like a good way to manage time and focus on delivering daily targets, but it can leave workers drained and unmotivated over time. Waking up and commuting to work would normally prepare the body to stay active and engaged throughout the day.
More often than not, working from home puts employees in their comfort zone. For many, though, working on their own may hinder their motivation levels to work. Incorporating employee engagement activities as part remote workers schedules can help these employees stay motivated to do their best work.
Since a worker's motivation directly affects their productivity, you can get the best out of your remote employees when you have a strategy in place to keep them motivated.
To prevent them from experiencing burnout
On the other side, remote employees can be plagued with unnecessary burnout. When working regular hours, employees focus their mental and physical strength to get work done. Working from home can sometimes blur the lines between rest periods and work hours. Without proper preventive measures for burnout, remote workers will soon begin to experience the worst.
Mental and physical exhaustion can negatively affect performance and productivity. Enforcing remote employee lunch breaks can be an effective way to force remote workers to take rests. Over time, this would improve remote employees' overall mental and physical capabilities.
To keep them productive
As a manager or business owner, it's in the business's best interest to have productive employees. As a result, measures must always be put in place to boost productivity. Even for in-house employees, it takes a lot of intentionalities to ensure they stay productive.
When dealing with remote employees, things can get a bit more difficult if you don't know what to do.
With virtual employee engagement activities during work from home hours, employees can stay productive. The more relaxed and comfortable these employees are during working hours, the more productive they can be.
To retain their interest in work
Many workers admit to sometimes having little or no interest in their work. For many of them, they see the job as a means of earning a paycheck and paying monthly bills. With a mindset like this, it's only a matter of time before you see a significant drop in performance and productivity levels.
Job satisfaction plays a vital role in the level of interest employees would have in the job. These work from home engagement activities are geared toward ensuring remote workers stay committed to the job.
Having understood the benefits of remote employee engagement activities, here are some ideas to help boost your remote worker's productivity and performance.
Virtual coffee breaks
Coffee breaks are an excellent way to get the mind off the day's work and focus on other things. An amazing remote employee lunch activity can be having all your remote workers take virtual coffee breaks simultaneously.
It can be a great bonding time for workers who have never met or haven't seen in a long time.
To ensure things are not too awkward, it's always best to pre-inform employees and has an agreed time for the coffee break. For example, you can have all remote workers come online on a video conferencing tool like Zoom.
This way, everyone is forced to take breaks and chit-chat on random things. Over time, these virtual coffee breaks become a necessary distraction and one of the highlights of their day.
One-on-one video calls with the company founder
This is one of the best remote employee engagement ideas, especially for small or medium-sized companies. It's not every day employees get to see and speak with their founder. Most times, a one-on-one call with the founder is a former meeting that requires a high level of seriousness.
As a business owner, you can schedule a one-on-one video call with your remote employees during work hours to make them feel appreciated. It's more than okay if the conversation is not entirely centered around work.
It's also a good way to listen to ideas and suggestions about the business. Having a company founder speak directly with employees, especially remote employees, can greatly improve employees' commitment and dedication to the job.
Most virtual employees can sometimes feel distant from the affairs of the company. Depending on the structure in place, it can seem difficult to pass complaints and suggestions to the top management effectively.
Feedbacks are always a good way to understand what's working and what's not. It's always good to have a second perspective on how the company operates.
Good virtual engagement ideas are to have these virtual employees speak freely about things. While not all feedback can be implemented, intentionally applying some feedback would make remote workers more willing to engage with feedback.
Play multiplayer games
Who says virtual employee engagement activities during work from home always revolve around work? Games are always a good way to unwind and have been known to help improve mental productivity. Ask your virtual employees for multiplayer game suggestions and try to narrow it down to one or two that everyone can engage in.
Since these remote employee engagement activities do not always have to be done daily, use this idea to keep the remote employees excited about working hours.
It's always more fun if you can ask them to connect on video calls to help liven the play. You can help them stay competitive by awarding a form of trophy to the winner, or having the employees decide what the winning prize should be before the games begin.
Create a dedicated communication channel
One of the downsides of working remotely is that it tends to isolate individuals from other team members. As much as employees love to pride themselves on being able to work unsupervised, as humans, we are naturally drawn to sharing ideas and working together.
Having virtual employees working from different parts of the world does not necessarily mean they shouldn't be able to communicate with each other.
You can create a dedicated team communication tool like Slack to allow employees to communicate with each other. It's best if the channel is not being monitored to allow for openness in communication.
This way, these remote employees can converse on things beyond the scope of work.
Help improve their workstation
Virtual employees need certain basic equipment and tools to be able to perform their work duties effectively. Good employee engagement ideas can move towards helping upgrade or equip their workstation. However, you would need to ensure a separate budget is drawn up to cater to such expenses.
It's important you do not incur unnecessary costs that could affect the company's financial position. Consequently, if the funds are available, it'll go a long way to boosting these virtual employees' confidence in the company.
As a manager or business owner, you don't necessarily have to always be the speaker. One good employee engagement idea is to have your virtual employees host a talk about anything while the others listen and ask questions in the end.
It could be an hour-long meeting with a 15-minute talk on any topic the speaker is comfortable about. The idea is to try and deviate from the routine work talk and have virtual employees talk about random things.
Employees can also chip in ideas on how to improve services if that's what the employee feels led to speak on. This form of engagement creates inclusiveness and good work culture for the employees.
Healthy habits challenge
In today's world, social media challenges have proven to be a huge hit and a great way to get people involved in an activity. However, working from home can sometimes bring about some habits that are far from healthy.
You can decide to create a healthy food challenge that has all virtual employees eating healthy for one month.
To keep things exciting, you can create a spreadsheet and have employees clock in or tick off the day's challenge with a picture of their food. At the end of the challenge period, you can reward the winners with a gift card or have a package sent over to them.
This activity keeps them engaged and goes a long way to show you care about their physical well-being.
Virtual birthday parties
There's just something about birthday wishes, surprises, and parties that livens even the gloomiest of moods. Try to celebrate each virtual employee by having other team members call in to wish them a happy birthday.
If possible, you can have each member get a cupcake in front of them and eat it together while making short speeches about the celebrant.
You can also incorporate games and puzzles to keep everyone engaged. Do you have a little budget to play around with? Then send the celebrant a surprise gift and maybe have them open it in front of their team members.
Virtual birthday parties make employees feel appreciated and remembered. It's not always easy to take time from a busy schedule to celebrate with someone. It is a healthy work culture whose ripple effect would guarantee improved employee commitment and productivity.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all of us experienced what it can be like to work from home. Too often, the days seem to go by the same way. With no zeal to pick out a work dress, such an attitude can spill into work hours and affect productivity. This is why “themed days” is one of the great virtual engagement ideas.
Have the remote employees dress up in different themes on different days. It helps bring back the excitement of looking for what to wear.
When it comes to themes, there are hundreds and thousands of ideas to float around. To increase engagement, pick themes that make employees leave their comfort zone. A good example of a theme day can be a “Come to work as your favorite movie character” day.
Scale down on team meetings
The bane of working remotely is the number of unnecessary meetings that employees are forced to attend. You don't even need to carry out a survey to know how tiring and worthless most of these meetings can be.
These work from home engagement activities are designed to counteract the effect of these unnecessary team meetings.
Only schedule team meetings when the subject of discussion is important. No employee loves to find a good shirt and top and sit idly with a fake smile through a boring, lengthy meeting.
While you look to reduce the frequency of these meetings, try to reduce the amount of time spent in them. Having all team members contribute is a good way to keep these meetings engaging.
Stop micromanaging virtual employees
Since we're all about remote employee engagement ideas, it would be a great disservice if the effects of micromanaging virtual employees are not addressed.
There's little to no benefit to micromanaging employees. On the contrary, it gives off an “I don't trust you enough” vibe that would only affect the employee's confidence.
There are times when employees require assistance, but checking in on them at every moment's notice is counterproductive. For virtual employees, micromanaging put them on their toes and doesn't create a healthy and conducive environment to work in.
Incorporating remote employee engagement ideas into your business can help improve remote employees' overall performance and productivity. These virtual employee engagement ideas can help employees stay motivated, reduce burnout, and keep them committed to your company.
The article highlights and examines virtual employee engagement ideas to help reposition your business for increased productivity.
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