Between 2005 to 2017, there was a 159% increase in remote work. Even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, remote work was growing at an exponential rate. This is due to the increased demand for flexible work schedules and recent advancements in technology. As a result of the pandemic, there was an additional surge of remote workers. Approximately half of the American workforce is currently working from home. Commuting to work, putting in your 8 hours at the office and then heading home is starting to become a foreign concept.
While remote work definitely has its perks, such as increased employee morale, it can be difficult to match the same excitement and camaraderie that in-person offices typically provide. Without this same level of energy, it can be difficult to provide your remote workers with the same experience. Keep reading to learn some tips on how to keep your remote workforce connected and engaged despite their distance.
1. Require Video Calls
Although many companies are unable to meet in person given the Covid-19 pandemic, it is still important to get a sense of face-to-face interaction. We recommend requiring at least one video meeting per day for your entire team. This meeting will give your whole team the chance to see each other face-to-face at least once a day which is great in terms of connectivity.
A video meeting also holds your employees accountable for being online and ready to work in appropriate attire. It encourages employees to get up and ready for the day before the meeting, similar to a traditional office routine. Without video calls, some employees might get caught in the slump of doing their work on the couch in their pajamas, which can lead to a very unproductive workday. Video calls encourage employees to stick to more of a routine and remain engaged with their job.
2. Create A Virtual Breakroom
In a traditional office setting, break rooms provide a great place for employees to connect with one another. Unfortunately, it can be hard to create this same atmosphere online, which is why we recommend creating a virtual “breakroom”. Create a zoom or skype link that is your designated “break room”. Employees can then hop on this call whenever they need a quick break or are just looking to get some social interaction. Remote work can be lonely so the option to hop on a quick call and have a fun chat with a coworker, even if it’s just for a few minutes, can make a huge difference in the lives of your employees. You can also make some personality quizzes to create a topic for your employees to play guessing games or there are many other popular video games that you can play at work with colleagues and understand each other. They will likely leave the break room feeling a lot more connected to their coworkers and the company as a whole.
3. Use Communication Apps
Communication applications are a great way for your team to converse quickly and efficiently while working remotely. There are tons of tools out there, from messaging apps to video communication. Decide on apps that align with your business preferences and you’ll instantly create a greater feeling of connection among your employees.
Nifty is a very useful tool for virtual communication. It’s an all-in-one remote collaboration hub that allows users to create multiple projects that each house an embedded discussion channel which are essentially chat rooms regarding different topics:
This can be seen as pictured above. The channels each have different names based on the project they are a part of, that enables users to easily switch between conversations with no confusion. Users can also privately message one another, which provides the perfect way for team members to collaborate quickly.
4. Fun Events Should Still Be Offered
Just because your employees are working remotely does not mean you have to miss out on all the fun in-office events like holiday parties or post-work happy hours. These events can still be done virtually and provide a great way for your employees to connect outside of work hours. Thus you can also implement a gifting method for the appreciation; there are staff appreciation gift ideas that enable the team to be more motivated and enthusiastic about their work.
Of course, this will likely require a little more creativity than in-person events, but it can certainly be done. Use applications like Zoom, Skype or Whereby to host these events. Your employees can jump on from any location and have the chance to chat, this makes it easy for everyone to join no matter where they are or what time zone they’re in.
You can even prepare exciting holiday photo cards for your employees to show gratitude and respect.
5. Send an Office Supply Package
Whether your company has always been fully remote, or it recently moved to a remote platform due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the first few weeks of remote work can be tough for your new employees. According to research done by Quantum Workplace, 76% of remote new hires felt less equipped to complete their job. With this being said, it’s crucial to provide additional support to your new employees who are working remotely.
One way to make your employees feel at ease and welcome is by sending an office supply package. A little goes a long way with this one, just send a small package with a few work from home essentials, such as headphones, blue light glasses, or other things that might be helpful for your employees’ first few weeks.
6. Encourage Your Employees To Keep a Schedule
In a traditional office setting, employees commute to work, put in their hours, and head home to relax or spend time with friends and family. The line between work and home life is easily distinguished with a traditional job but with work from home life, it’s just not as simple. Many employees feel like they are working 24/7 because they find it hard to ever get fully offline when their “office” and home are in such close proximity.
Make it a point for your employees to log off once they’ve fulfilled their required hours for the day. It is important that you do not allow your employees to overwork themselves as it can lead to a major loss of productivity. An overworked employee will lose engagement and will be far less likely to take additional time to connect with their colleagues.
7. Schedule Regular 1:1 Meetings
When working in an office, it’s easy to chat with employees 1:1 on a daily basis. Whether it’s checking in on your inventory planning services team and how they’re getting along, it’s effortless to have a quick chat when working in such close proximity. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about remote workers. This is why it’s crucial to dedicate time to 1:1 meetings with your employees.
It’s wise to schedule these meetings approximately once a week. This ensures you never go too long without directly speaking to your employees and that you’re up to date on how things are going. It is important to ensure that these meetings are not strictly business. Take a few minutes to ask about your employee’s life beyond the office and it will leave them feeling far more connected with both you and the company.
8. Don’t Go Overboard With Meetings
Although we highly recommend regular 1:1 meetings, it is still important to allow your employees to have some autonomy in their day. While it can seem isolating to no longer be working in close quarters, that doesn’t mean you need to schedule several meetings each day to make up for the distance. Going overboard on meetings can actually create frustrated and disengaged employees.
Scheduling too many meetings can give the impression that you don’t trust your employees to complete their tasks without regular check-ins. Chat with your employees when it’s necessary but make it clear that you trust your employees to complete their job without constant supervision. Employees who feel trusted and respected will instantly feel far more connected to your company.
Remote work is here to stay, so it’s wise to get started on a strategy that works for both you and your employees. Treat your remote workers just as if they were in the cubicle beside you, and you’ll find that it’s simple to keep them both connected and engaged. Adjust your strategy as you see fit, there is no perfect solution for every company but these tips will certainly steer you in the right direction.