Much like solitary confinement, remote working is tough. With the employees feeling disconnected while working from home, managers are on a constant lookout for quick-fixes to motivate and engage them.
And there are ways to break through from this. We curated 5 time-efficient and low-cost ways to keep your team connected and engaged.
Sync in a Routine for Small Talk
Small talk is the un-celebrated underdog of employee engagement.
As evident by its name, ‘small-talk’ is supposed to be small. Schedule maybe 5 minutes with everyone on your team once or twice a week. Here are some small-talk starters that can help you be less weird doing it virtually:
You can reply privately to a co-worker’s public comments. For example, appreciate their honesty or humour, thank them for a solution to a common problem, or to let them know that you value their critique on your work. It helps in creating an intimate one-on-one connection.
Offer help that you suspect they need. This will help co-workers open up to you and build trust in your relationship with them.
Schedule Video Roulettes
Office parties and casual events are the hot springs of fresh ideas and innovation. It is safe to say they are one of the expensive yet most useful employee engagement tools.
Informal interactions within a remote team are rare. However, you can dial that up a notch by curating virtual casual collisions to spike engagement in a remote workforce.
But you can change that with ‘virtual casual collisions’. The idea is to replicate the effect of ‘bumping into each other’ in the traditional, physical office space. Essentially, you automate virtual interactions in random pairing, like in the case of speed dating.For example, Snack for Slack allows organizations to schedule one-on-one video calls between remote employees to virtually recreate casual office encounters with team members they interact with the least. It is an indispensable resource for engagement if you are trying to build a rock-solid team, albeit virtually. Even Donut for Slack works mysteriously to create serendipitous connections within virtual teams.
Another example would be virtual speed networking for employees with Airmeet. Here the employees get matched for a quick one-on-one virtual meeting, but the host decides the time duration of each discussion. This simple exercise lets employees build as many authentic connections as possible.
Why is it something you should do, you ask? It costs a fraction of what it costs to host events offline. And, it takes less than 10 minutes to sign up for one such tool. Just pave the way for multiple remote interactions and beneficial collaborations within your team, with casual virtual collisions through video roulettes.
Buddy System to Keep Off the Work-from-Home Blues
Imagine being a new employee or an intern in a virtual workspace – it’s way too new for us to be comfortable, and can feel very disconnected.
While software has made new-hire onboarding much better, it is at best trying to be a human. Instead, make your onboarding actually human with the ‘Buddy system’.
The buddy system asks you to assign an existing employee as a “buddy” to a new hire. They’re supposed to show the new hires around, and also make them comfortable in the culture.
Not only is this great for those who join your company, it also sets up the right mix of workplace engagement for your existing employees.
And of course, it’s free.
Award Weekly/Monthly Employee Responsiveness with Small Rewards
Okay, the virtual business world is in flux with remote collaboration tools that pledge to simplify workflow. In addition to the many upsides they have, you can review all past interactions made in the virtual workplace.
Most tools make it easy to track individual interactions of different employees on various public forums on the platform. Best of all, it is available at a glance and takes little time to skim through. Have your HR team award employees for being humorous, responsive, resourceful and simply quick on these public interactions on various topics. Send them a mud cake or their favourite teas as a way to encourage their virtual behaviour.
Little expense and little time spent doing this simple exercise help virtual workers realize that what they say and do counts. Small rewards of their choice reinforce the excellent behaviour beautifully.
Show How Employee Contributions Align with Company’s Vision
Fun and games aside, what drives employee engagement the best is letting workers know how what they do counts.
Every year organizations lay down their strategic goals for a financial year. Go a step ahead and have your CEO explain to each department how their work advances the company vision in a crisp 5-minute video or a short live session. Even cleverly designed flowcharts highlighting how employee duties help fulfil goals can boost engagement. All of this helps employees feel that their contributions remain meaningful for the employer and reinforces a sense of purpose lacking in remote work culture.
Why is this an absolute must-do, you ask? It re-infuses a sense of purpose in remote employees, sets them up for achievements. Plus, it does not cost much and can be done quickly, as soon as the company vision is clear. Make them feel that their work matters with this simple step.
In the End
It has been almost two years since we have been forced to an utterly remote way of working. Like many of us, our teams also lose interest, motivation and vision now and then in the absence of constant physical connection and a common co-working space.
Figuring out the best engagement practices for a remote workforce is a game of hit and trial. You have to read between the lines and figure out what gets your guys going. Try these five quick best practices to boost remote engagement within your team and save time for other core business processes.