As remote work continues to rise, the transition from bustling office spaces to virtual environments has made traditional employee engagement strategies less effective. 37% of remote workers do not feel connected to their peers. That is understandable as working remotely creates distance from a team, which makes it more difficult to connect with others. So what can be done to improve engagement with remote workers?
That is a challenge many managers, supervisors, and leaders of all kinds are facing and are trying to overcome. Remote employee engagement is no longer a supplementary component in the workplace. On the contrary, it is a central pillar in maintaining productivity and employee well-being.
The essence of nurturing engagement in a remote setting lies in bridging the physical distance with strategies that foster camaraderie. This is easier said than done. However, it is not impossible. In this article, we’ll give you some activities you can do with your remote employees that will increase engagement.
Virtual Team-Building Games
One of the best and most fun ways to increase employee engagement is to host virtual team-building games. These are games that you play as a group. Your team will get some time together to do something fun which will not only help keep remote employees engaged but also help them relieve some stress.
Companies can set aside specific times each month when teams convene virtually to engage in these games. This is a great way for employees to interact with peers they might not work with daily. Also, these activities can serve as icebreakers for new team members. This allows them to integrate into the company culture more smoothly.
There are many virtual team-building games out there. For example, Hot Takes is a popular one. This is a game where participants give somewhat controversial opinions like “tacos are overrated” to see how everyone feels about them.
Here are some more ideas:
- Virtual Escape Rooms These are digital simulations of escape rooms where teams have to solve a series of puzzles and challenges to “escape”.
- Virtual Scavenger Hunt: Participants are given a list of items or tasks to find within their own home or online.
- Two Truths and a Lie: In this game, each participant tells two true facts about themselves and one lie. The other participants then try to guess which statement is the lie.
- Pictionary: This is a classic drawing and guessing game where one person draws something related to a given word, and others try to guess what it is.
Whichever game you choose, make sure that it is light, fun, and one where everyone can participate. This will ensure that your entire remote team feels like they can be included.
Online Learning and Development Workshops
Another great way to increase engagement with remote employees is to offer online learning and digital workshops. In fact, 76% of employees believe their companies should provide more digital skills training.
These workshops can be structured to encourage cross-functional interaction. This helps with networking and collaboration across different departments. By creating a way for continuous learning and personal growth, companies can enhance the skill sets of their employees. Also, it helps nurture a culture that values development and innovation.
Moreover, these learning platforms can be tailored to help with specific things needed to do the job. This way, you are not only increasing engagement but also making the employee’s job easier..
Virtual Coffee Breaks
Taking coffee breaks with co-workers is a regular part of many people’s workday. However, that becomes much more difficult when working remotely. To bridge this gap, virtual coffee breaks can be an informal way to connect in between online meetings. These coffee breaks are structured times when employees can gather virtually to discuss anything but work.
This means that they can talk about the latest movies, their hobbies, or personal anecdotes. These breaks create a sense of normalcy for remote workers. On top of that, it helps build camaraderie in the remote working environment. Virtual coffee breaks can provide a meeting time where employees can create friendships. This is especially true for newer employees.
Negative company culture is one of the major causes of low employee engagement. Giving remote employees time to socialize and communicate can help foster a more friendly company culture which may improve overall employee morale.
Remote Wellness Programs
Remote wellness programs stand as a way companies can show their commitment to a healthy and happy workforce. These programs can encompass a wide range of activities, from online yoga classes to meditation sessions, hobby workshops, or even virtual cook-along sessions where employees can share recipes and cook together.
The multi-faceted wellness programs serve a dual purpose; they cater to the physical and mental well-being of employees while creating platforms where employees can connect, share experiences, and learn from each other.
However, it is important to create wellness initiatives that resonate with everyone. For example, you don’t want to create a program where everyone participates in a 10k race. This might isolate those who are not interested in running or walking for long distances.
Virtual Volunteer Programs
Community engagement and giving back to society have always been powerful engagement tools. When working remotely, these aspects can take the form of virtual volunteer programs. Virtual volunteer programs are programs where employees can come together to contribute to different community projects and charitable causes. This can be anything from online tutoring programs to virtual fundraising campaigns.
Engaging in these volunteer programs can help remote workers feel a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. Also, it will create a platform where employees can collaborate and connect on a deeper level. Employees will not only be more engaged, they may become more loyal to the company due to their commitment to worthwhile causes.
Online Book Clubs
For your employees who love to read, starting an online book club may be a way to have them engage with you and their coworkers. Book clubs in general are good for discussing ideas, interests, and important themes. However, a workplace book club can also help uncover intellectual curiosity within the organization. Each month, a book can be chosen either by the organizers or through a democratic vote. The latter will encourage employees to include themselves in diverse genres and topics chosen.
For an online work book club to succeed, it needs to feel less like work. In order to do this, hierarchies should be blurred. Managers, leaders, founders, and others should be welcome to attend the book club but should try to avoid leading the club. This will make it feel more organic. The team or an individual chosen by the team should head the meetings or facilitating responsibilities should be rotated.
If you have a team that is not interested in reading full books, keep in mind that the club can be about anything. That means you can also have a club centered around podcasts, movie series, or documentaries.
Remote Talent Shows
Who doesn’t like a talent show? They are fun, entertaining, and often bring out someone’s passion or hidden talents. That is why hosting a remote talent show is a great way to engage your virtual employees.
These virtual events provide a stage where employees can showcase their talents. This could be singing, dancing, painting, or any other form of art. These talent shows will unearth the multifaceted personalities within your team. Hopefully, this will create a deeper appreciation for the diversity that exists within the company.
These talent shows can be organized periodically of they can be spontaneously organized. The goal here is to offer employees a way they can break away from their regular work routines and come together to celebrate and appreciate each other’s talents.
Furthermore, it instills a sense of pride and recognition. There is nothing like getting a round of applause from your peers for doing something that is not work-related.
Virtual Mentoring Programs
One of the easiest ways to make remote employees feel more engaged is by offering them mentoring. When an employee gets mentorship, they usually feel more connected to the company and its leaders. Providing mentorship shows remote employees that you want to help them grow within the company even though they are not physically at the company.
Mentors can be just about anyone who helps remote employees grow. This can be senior employees or external industry experts. The goal is to have someone serve as a guiding figure for the remote employees, helping mentees navigate through their career paths with insight and experience.
Keeping employees engaged can be difficult. The problem is usually made worse if the employees are working remotely. When you begin to see signs of low employee engagement, it is time to take action. Using these strategies, you can help your remote employees feel more engaged, involved, and valued by the company and their peers.