November 5, 2020 · You Oughta Know

Musings, interests & fun tidbits

Four Ways to Engage Remote Employees

As if it wasn’t challenging enough to retain, engage and motivate employees before 2020, there’s nothing like a global pandemic to knock us all back on our heels.  Covid-19 challenges our organizations in ways we have never before faced.

Sure, it’s not like you haven’t been tasked with managing some of your people remotely, but all of your workforce?  And, all at once?  This has been an enormous undertaking and still very-much an experiment in human behavior as it relates to productivity as well as employee satisfaction.  Satisfaction?  Ok, maybe in some cases we talking employee tolerance….or, even sanity at this point.

And, are the virtual coffee breaks and happy hours wearing a bit thin at this point?  Probably.  So, here are a number of thoughts.

Recognize good work

Recognizing and rewarding employees for their hard work is a key factor in boosting engagement among your telecommuting employees. Employee recognition can take many different forms, but the main goal is to incentivize continued productivity and dedication from your team.

For example, a great way to start Zoom meetings is simply to ask if anyone would like to recognize or show appreciation for a co-worker.   Sometimes, praise from peers can be as important as recognition from management.  Recognition doesn’t need to be formal or grand for it to be effective. For example, a personalized e-card can go a long way in making employees feel valued and engaged while they work from home.


Create a collaborative culture

Employees tend to be more engaged when they feel like they’re part of a team. When they’re working from home, it can be hard for them to buy into that mentality. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure employees understand that even though you may not be in the office together, you’re all working together toward the same common goal.

According to a Glassdoor survey, 56% of employees find a good workplace culture to be more important than salary.

Without the daily physical connections, it becomes challenging to build and preserve that sense of camaraderie.  You might consider a couple of these ideas to help build that camaraderie among your employees:

  • Wellness activities: take time at lunch, or a mid-day break, to try group yoga or meditation.  Or, simply take time to share ideas regarding how employees are staying in shape and taking care of themselves.
  • Birthday celebrations: take a break to bring people together and celebrate birthdays.    Toast the guest of honor by having co-workers share answers to a list of question prompts (i.e “if Mike were a band, who would he be?”)
  • Covid Cope Sesh: Host a Zoom whiskey tasting offering reviews of your favorite brown beverages. Get a little loose.
  • Coffee & Cannabis: Leaf or edible? Indica or Sativa?  Host a coffee-clutcher discussing the wide variety marijuana options available to your employees today to help them cope with the seemingly endless assault on their sanity and security.


Encourage Work/Life Balance

Remote employees may have difficulty establishing a healthy work/life balance right now. Because there may not be a physical separation between their workspace and their personal space, employees may feel like they need to be available for work 24/7, which can lead to unnecessary stress and, eventually, burnout.

As a result, you should communicate to your employees the importance of creating boundaries.  Encourage people to get up from their workspace and take the dog for a walk or soak up a few minutes of sunshine to break up the workday. Suggest that they work their normal hours and then step away from the computer until it’s time to start working the next day.


Reinforce your brand with your employees.

This can be anything from self-care items to safety/security kits to fun stuff.  Do it regularly.  Swag bags, work from home kits, Zoom apparel are all guaranteed to put a smile on their faces.  It  helps to put the team players in the team colors and allow them to fly the company colors.  Gift them regularly with apparel to represent your company culture whether that’s the new Zoom-standard athleisure wear or traditional corporate casual.

Send a branded box of goodies to let employees know you are thinking about them and care.


The bottom line is that you can fight the spreading feeling of isolation and find success by properly engaging your employees.



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