Even before the COVID-19 lockdowns, work-from-home setups are well practiced by companies. In fact, in 2005, work from home setups has grown by 140% and according to Global Workplace Analytics, 3.2% or 4.3 million remote employees work from home in the U.S. This indicates that in today’s modern workforce, work-from-home setups are continuously increasing.
With the rise of this new digital workforce, business leaders are still caught in confusion on how to handle their remote workers. Even highly experienced managers make rookie mistakes. It is because keeping your remote teams engaged is a little more difficult. Traditional approaches which work for on-site employees may not work for remote employees.
As such, this article will provide you some tips to provide unique approaches in keeping your employees feeling engaged and cared for. Here are some approaches you can try with your employees.
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Encourage Regular Breaks At Work
Consistent breaks throughout the workday prevent stress and burnout. Since the current pandemic is keeping us from each other, it does not imply that we should not try other ways to reconnect.
Scheduling virtual coffee breaks for your team is a great way to reconnect. This way, remote workers will feel that they are still part of the company despite working from home. This can also boost Employee Morale and Satisfaction.
In addition, here are some more ways to encourage regular breaks for remote employees:
Encourage Group Engagements
Each of us has our own side interests outside work. Your team members are no different. Some of them may even gather and engage with their mutual interests and favourite pastime. Remote employees are no different. They would also want to connect with co-workers with similar pursuits. As such, building social groups is another approach to bring remote employees together. It allows them to bond, regardless of the department they belong to.
Virtual Lunch Breaks
Lunch is another time employees gather around and spend time with each other. Under normal situations, remote employees may even meet with other colleagues to have lunch together. But the threat of the current pandemic prevents us from mingling around. Instead, you may set up a group conference and have the whole team have a virtual lunch.
Working out together is another great way to bond. With this remote setup, you can organize virtual fitness events during a scheduled time of the day. It can be as big as doing yoga together, or a simple stretching session. Activities like these may keep everyone from sitting their whole day on their desks and encourage healthy living for everyone.
If you are managing a smaller virtual team, it is critical to provide one-on-one consultations or feedback. Employees working from home should not be treated any differently but much more with special care and attention. Management should offer them a chance to speak their minds—whether from a professional or personal standpoint. It is one of the many ways to keep them engaged and connected.
Similarly, here are some ways on how to effectively manage each remote employee:
Repeated Weekly Meetings
Oftentimes, the best way to do this is to set up one-on-one meetings weekly. The goal is to make remote employees feel comfortable in expressing their opinions. Such openness will encourage them to share their work-from-home experience. This will increase your team’s trust in you.
Allow Multi-Channel Communications
With the current remote setup, it may be tempting to make all communications through video conferences. However, other remote employees may not be comfortable with this. Others may prefer written channels to discuss simpler and smaller tasks. Thus, your chatbox should always be an option to accommodate your remote employees.
The New “Open Door Policy”
Handling remote employees can be far different from on-site or office-based employees. Your “open door policy” fails each time you neglect to clarify your intentions. Not updating your availability on Skype, MS Teams, or Slack, is like closing your office doors. Remote employees should know when your virtual office door is open. This will let them know the perfect time to approach you for a discussion.
Weekly Team Engagement
Aside from weekly individual check-ins, group meetings are as important. If you already have a set weekly or daily team meetings, then it should not change now. Even if your team is working remotely, meetings like these are still needed. While these meetings should remain professional and productive, never forget to humanize them. Have fun with your team and set a tone that is conducive to business.
Also never forget the employees’ work from home setups. There is nothing wrong with a dog barking in the background, or an occasional pet overtaking the camera. Sometimes, half of your team might even be dressed in their pajamas.
Looking at today’s current situations, working from home setups may last for quite a while. Engaging your remote teams with weekly or daily fun activities is a good idea to keep them connected. It also adds up their feeling of belongingness to the team and the company.
Here are some of the fun activities you can try out with your team:
Company contests are one of the many well-loved traditions. Halloween and Christmas are two of the biggest events that are widely celebrated by some businesses. Annual costume contests are one of the most favorite events among employees. Other than that, game tournaments are also entertaining events to engage employees.
For remote employees, hosting online tournaments is a great idea to have fun. Just because we are currently in a pandemic and employees work remotely does not mean we should skip these fun activities.
Hosting company challenges is also another fun activity you can try for your remote team. This will allow employees from various departments to gather and team up. It is a great way to engage everyone and encourage healthy competition among them.
There are various challenges to try — from fitness to crafts or even Lego building. If it is something that encourages people to join, have fun, and engage, then it is worth a try.
Posting a random question in whatever medium of communication you use is also a great idea. Questions can be short and simple. You can start by asking what their favorite season, pet, color, and other interesting topics are. You can encourage unique answers by giving rewards to the best and most interesting answers.
Encouraging gift exchanges, mailing letters, or sending packages strengthens the bond between employees. Whether they are crafty types or book lovers, they can pick what to send to their colleagues.
Working From Home Should Never Feel Being Alone
Businesses need to provide the best working environment for their employees. A working environment that encourages and supports even remote employees. Regardless of their location, no employee should feel disregarded and alone. The efforts of making each employee feel like a part of the team even miles away is an investment. Employees are assets; accordingly, businesses should never fail to look after them.
Pamela is a full-time content writer and a lifelong Philomath. Her previous experience as a research analyst made her passionate about traveling the world and understanding how it works. During her day off, you can often find her indoors, writing stories or oil painting.