It’s no surprise that working from home is on the rise, and many companies are ditching the traditional in-person workspace in favour of hybrid or completely remote working structures. And who can blame them? No commute, more flexibility and the ability to work in sweatpants does sound pretty amazing. However, even with numerous benefits, there are new challenges that come with the increase in fully remote work. Some social connection between colleagues is lost when you can’t simply swivel your chair to talk to your coworker, tell jokes by the watercooler or tagalong to try that new café for lunch. Missing that employee engagement can negatively impact workplace culture, productivity, and heighten employee turnover.
It is clear that companies need modern solutions to this modern working structure. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 7 tips for boosting engagement on your remote team!
1. Virtual Team-Building
Your company is still as much of a team when in-person or remote, so it stands within reason that team building activities are just as valuable to your company regardless of your workplace structure. So do not overlook using team-building experiences made specifically for virtual settings as a way to bring your team together and foster strong connections. The virtual team-building industry boomed when the pandemic started, and there are a plethora of activities that utilize the virtual setting to its advantage. With virtual games, you are not pinned down by the practical restrictions of being in-person and after 2 years of the pandemic, there’s a multitude of options to choose from. Need some inspiration? Check out this blog post for 30+ Virtual Activity Ideas.
Pro Tip: Try organizing a virtual team-building experience once a month. Not only is this a perfect way to engage your remote team on a consistent basis, but also gives them something new and exciting to look forward to each month.
2. Company Retreats
Most fully remote teams host a company retreat at least once a year to bring everyone together in-person. By choosing an exciting destination and having everyone meet to participate in team-building activities, business related workshops, can completely change the company dynamic and reduce turn-over! Connecting, celebrating, and working together in a beautiful place was a rewarding and invaluable experience and truly strengthened our bond as a team.
A company retreat should be a top priority for all companies, virtual or not. However, especially as a remote company, it’s the perfect way to use the money you’ve saved on having a physical space and reinvest it in your team. Take a look at some examples of company retreats that have been created for remote companies and see the amazing possibilities of your own company retreat to engage your remote team!
3. Friday Socials
An amazing way to increase company engagement and connection is to involve your employees in the actual planning process. Once or twice a month on Fridays, place one person is in charge of running a fun Friday social for the rest of the team. Learning a new recipe, tarot card readings, get-to-know-you trivia, fitness classes, water colour painting and even drag Queen bingo are all examples of fun options for Friday socials. Provide each person with a small budget for the necessary provisions for their activity and leave it to them! Not only does it feel more personal, but also inspires much more creativity to think outside the box. Friday socials are a great way to let loose after a long week, reward your team and get everyone engaged.
4. Co-Working Days
Co-working days are the perfect way to strike a balance between work from home and in-person connection. Once a month, book a co-working space (or a few depending on the cities your team resides in), and bring everyone together for an in-office work day! Almost reminiscent of pre-pandemic times, it’s a fun way to reignite that team mentality and enjoy working side by side with your colleagues once more. These mini-reunions are a truly special way to boost morale, but will also boost productivity or allow opportunities for important monthly meetings or even fun brainstorming workshops. Making these co-working days a monthly occurrence will give your team something to look forward to, and a perfect opportunity to catch-up with one another and even ditch the sweatpants and dress up for a day.
Pro Tip: Show your employees you really care by ordering in a lunch or treats, or taking them out for happy hour after work.
5. Consistent Weekly Meetings
No one wants more meetings that could have been an email but hear me out, structured meetings two to three times a week can have a huge effect on team engagement. Schedule meetings for thirty minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Each day of the week has its own purpose. Mondays allows for the team to reconnect after the weekend, receive high level updates, and share goals for the week. Wednesdays can include a fun ice breaker question and the sharing of daily goals. Wednesdays also include an opportunity to “ask the boss anything” as questions do always come up during the week. Fridays are for debriefing, identifying tasks that need to be done before the end of the day, setting goals for next week and having a few laughs.
Each meeting should also include sharing any blockers to our daily goals which allows the team to collaborate and help each other when needed. This fosters a sense of collaboration, strengthens our team’s connection and allows us to align on team goals.
Even if it’s a twenty minute meeting to bring everyone together twice a week, this consistent routine and ability to see everyone face to face will without a doubt increase remote team engagement on a day to day basis.
6. Coffee Breaks
Taking breaks to actually disconnect from work can actually be more challenging in a virtual setting. It’s easier to step away from the desk, clear your mind and re-energize when you can actually interact with your coworkers face-to-face. Colleagues can jet out for a coffee, stand by the watercooler or try out a new lunch spot together. This valuable social interaction and mental health break can be sorely missed in the virtual world.
Well, Donut has a unique solution that not only brings that day-to-day coworker communication back, but also encourages small healthy breaks throughout the day. This app can be used via Slack, and will periodically ask fun and unique get to know you questions! What did you want to be when you grew up? What’s your biggest pet peeve? Which fruit is the best? These questions are specially designed to inspire further conversation, friendly debates and simply make people smile.
There is also an added option called Donut Intros, which essentially mimics an in-person coffee break, lunch break or happy hour. Each month, the app will pair up two coworkers who will then be responsible for finding a time to get together via an online platform of choice and get to know each other a little more. This can bring together people from different departments, and create a more connected and engaged workplace, not to mention it will brighten everyone’s days and keep that valuable social connection alive and well.
Pro Tip: Not a Slack user? That’s okay. Try Coffee Pals instead!
7. Always Ask For Feedback
Don’t overlook how important engagement is in your remote workplace. It can make all the difference in creating a productive workplace and increasing job satisfaction. Every company dynamic is different, and will therefore thrive on a unique combination of the above ideas. The best way to stay in tune with your team is to get in the habit of asking for feedback and actually implementing changes to continue to improve. Consider sending out a quarterly “Pulse Check” survey where each employee can share their thoughts and feedback on a range of company aspects. This information is invaluable in continuing to facilitate a dynamic, engaging and positive workplace culture.