2020 has hit the world with one too many questions. “When will the vaccine come out?” or “when do we get to travel again?” But for leaders in companies, a question that has been occupying their minds have been “how do we keep our remote teams engaged?”.
Interestingly, many managers have reported higher or same levels of productivity when employees are working from home.
This global work from home experience has enabled companies, which were in the process of digital transformation, to expedite their transition. On the other hand, other companies have had little time to transition, but nonetheless have seen surprisingly positive outcomes.
It therefore won’t come as a surprise that many companies polled said they will adopt remote working, even after the Covid-19 pandemic.
To employees, they see this as a means where they can save time and money and achieve a better work-life balance. And to employers, they reap the benefits of cost-savings and the ability to attract talents from around the globe.
However, companies still face challenges in keeping their remote teams engaged and motivated. With the reduction in face-to-face interactions, managers fear that this could hurt employee engagement and performance.
What is employee engagement?
Employee engagement can be described as “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals,” (Forbes, 2012).
If your employees are emotionally engaged in their work, they are not just working for the pay that comes in at the end of the month.
They perform because they are driven by their dedication to the company as a whole, and the managers to whom they directly report.
How To Keep Your Remote Team Engaged
Companies have adopted different ways and methods to ensure the engagement of their remote teams.
Here are some ways to maintain your company culture and make your virtual staff feel like they’re truly part of the team.
1. Promote health and wellness
Your employees health, be it physical or mental health, should always be a top priority.
As such, start with providing a safe and comfortable workspace for them at home. Supply them with the tools they would need to work as efficiently as they would work at the office.
This includes providing them with a desk (or if budget permits, a standing desk), an ergonomic chair, a monitor screen and other ergonomic accessories such as keyboards and mouse. You can use Esevel for an all-in-one platform for managing your remote workforce.
Your employees’ mental well-being is an equally important part of the equation.
Employers can also host activities that promote team bonding, such as weekly virtual yoga classes, or a steps challenge among team members.
Not only does this allow a sense of competition and inclusion, it also allows employees to stretch it out and walk around the house.
2. Host camera-on meetings and casual hangouts
The importance of regularly checking in with your employees cannot be over-emphasized.
A virtual check-in session between colleagues is a great way for employees to catch up with one another. And this will be even better if supplemented with in-person team meetings at the office or a co-working space on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Asking team members to turn on their web cameras will also help to foster better communication. Being able to see their colleagues facial expression can help employees feel more connected to one another. See our tips for keeping your remote team engaged during video calls.
Leaders will also be able to get a gauge on their employees’ well-being when seeing the body language and tone of their employee. There are a variety of tools available to be able to support these online communications, such as Google Hangouts, Zoom and Slack.
3. Provide clear and transparent guidelines and structure
Working from home or remotely can cause gaps or misunderstandings in communication. As such, employers should always establish a clear and transparent remote work guideline. This would help employees know what’s expected of them when working remotely.
A good way to set down the guideline is through a remote work policy. Employees can be guided on the communication channels they are expected to monitor, and taught how to report their work progress back to their teams.
A confidential channel to Human Resource should also be provided so employees can provide feedback for sensitive matters. This could also prove helpful if there are any broken lines of communication.
One of the complaints employees have of remote work is that work tends to creep into their personal life.
By providing clear guidance on designated working time through the policy, you can help employees draw a clear line between work and family life.
4. Showing appreciation
We are all used to having that early morning coffee treat, a batch of freshly baked muffins or birthday celebrations for colleagues in the office.
We all know that showing appreciation towards your employees is a vital step to boost their morale and make everyone feel like part of a team.
But how do you do this when your team is working from home?
Creative ideas that we’ve seen include sending virtual gift cards for someone’s birthday, or doing a surprise Lunch Bash for a team who’s celebrating a win. Or even sending over a bottle of wine for a co-worker who went the extra mile to get a job done.
Small and simple acts like these can go a long way and is a very effective way on how to keep your remote team engaged.
5. Promote personal connections
Always keep in mind that your employees are still human. Some days may be great, and some days may be bad.
Being at home with family members could also cause more friction as this is a working environment they are not used to. It is always important to have patience and understanding when your employee is going through a stressful moment, and to provide support in helping them handle it.
How do you handle this as a team leader?
You can approach this by caring for your employees as people instead of workers. They will immediately feel a higher sense of appreciation when you take note of what they enjoy or excel at, and try to incorporate that in their work.
Find out their future plan in terms of career development and personal growth, and bear this in mind when assigning them tasks. This would not only help them enjoy what they do, but will also help increase productivity.
With remote work becoming the new norm, these are a few ways to keep your remote teams engaged.
For sure, it will take time and effort to implement these changes compay wide. However, companies will definitely stand to reap the benefits from enabling remote work in the long run.
Here at Esevel, we help to promote the safety, wellness and productivity of your remote workforce.
To learn more about how Esevel can bring a comfortable working environment into your home, see here.