With the Coronavirus pandemic seemingly at its worst, businesses have no choice but to embrace the WFH lifestyle.
But besides dealing with operational issues, many HR professionals are having to come up with creative employee engagement & team building ideas for remote workers, while also juggling the ever-changing FFCRA law, and creating COVID-19 related policies.
During these difficult times, it’s more important than ever to work on raising morale, and companies with little or no experience in managing a remote team are really feeling the heat.
Employee engagement is difficult as it is, but how does one go about engaging a remote employee? Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the common HR FAQs relevant to COVID-19.
Don’t worry, though. With the right tactics, you can easily boost those engagement levels.
In this post, we’ll discuss 16 unique team building ideas for remote workers that you can consider trying during the Coronavirus crisis (and continue to implement long after the pandemic has subsided).
Let’s jump right in.
Before we discuss the specific employee engagement ideas for remote workers, we recommend that you implement certain project management, HR, video conferencing, and team collaboration tools, to make telework interactions easier between and within teams.
Consider giving the following a try:
Aside from that, here are some unique ideas that you could consider implementing:
Who says proximity matters when it comes to coffee breaks?
Ask your team members to brew mean cups of joe (or make any other drink they want).
Then, get them all onboard a video conferencing tool and start chit-chatting.
Ask them about their day, how they’ve been feeling, if they’re facing any work-related challenges, etc.
Everyone needs a break from work, even if they’re working from home, and small-talk over coffee can go a long way.
If you never bothered with the icebreaking or intimate side of onboarding for your remote employees, now is the perfect time to make them feel a part of the team.
Since you’ve probably never had your in-house employees interact with your remote workers, get them all on a video call.
Then, ask them to formally introduce themselves to their fellow co-workers.
To make things interesting, you can have everyone choose from a list of pre-determined questions to break the ice.
Your employees may not be comfortable getting onboard with this, but home tours are a great way to emotionally connect with your employees and ignite some good ol’ team building.
In a video conference, ask each employee to walk around with their smartphone/laptop and give a quick tour of their beautiful home. This could be especially fun if a team member has just moved into a new home, after the home inspection phase.
Of course, those who aren’t comfortable in doing so must not be forced to do so, otherwise, you might end up doing more harm than good.
Do your remote employees have something cool to show/share?
Schedule an online show-and-tell and give them a platform to share something interesting.
This could be anything – an awesome gadget, a precious item, an interesting story, or a sick skill that they never got the chance to show off.
Let your remote workforce connect and share whatever they want.
While the concept is to have fun, you can make things more interesting by having a small panel of judges. Turn this into an online workplace X Factor and announce a winner at the end (i.e. the person with the most interesting thing to show or share).
To make the employees feel like their voices are heard, leaders need to have one-on-one meetings with them – whether they work in-house or remotely.
While this may sound exhausting, by scheduling a short face-to-face meeting with an employee every day, it’s attainable.
Aside from providing feedback, the remote team members should get the opportunity to share their concerns and opinions.
If you haven’t already, consider purchasing an online learning management system and upload different training courses for your employees.
When it comes down to it, social distancing can take its toll on an individual’s mental health.
A good, productive way to keep oneself occupied is to watch and finish any company-mandated training.
On top of your native training material, consider purchasing and providing access to other relevant training courses, as well.
A great way to ensure remote employee engagement is to ask your teams for feedback.
This feedback could be about anything, including:
You can achieve that through online employee engagement surveys or through one-on-one video calls.
Don’t just stop there – make an effort to show your remote employees that you care and act on their feedback.
Your employee engagement ideas for remote workers don’t have to be boring or limited to work.
Give your teams a chance to unwind and relax by inviting them to a multiplayer game.
Here are some of our favorites (you just need a mobile device to play these):
Ask each employee if there’s any specific game that they’d like to play. And if it gets enough votes from everyone else, throw it in the list.
You can’t provide workstations to your remote employees.
However, there’s a work-around – you can dig up some funds to help pay for their home offices.
Regular telecommuters might not have this problem, but your in-house employees who are accustomed to an office environment, might have difficulty adjusting to the WFH routine.
Your employees will love you for helping them build up their home offices from scratch (or spice up existing ones).
Every now and then, a lot of professionals suffer from imposter syndrome – a persistent gut-wrenching feeling that you’re not good enough and/or a fraud.
Such feelings of inadequacy could affect an employee’s performance, and ultimately, lead to disengagement.
To prevent that from happening, the best thing to do is to offer positive feedback and recognize your employees for all the great work that they do.
Now, it is easier to give them a pat on the back when you’re working in-house.
And things don’t always go so smoothly when everyone’s working-from-home.
Therefore, to turn it into an easy process, consider opting for a modern HR software with built-in performance management and employee feedback tools.
Employee empowerment and engagement go hand-in-hand.
There’s only so much you can do in that department when it comes to managing a remote workforce.
You can give your employees the freedom to set their own schedules, as long as they’re getting the job done on time, they could be able to pick their working hours.
By letting your employees choose their own working hours, you’ll essentially build a sense of trust and mutual respect.
Keep in mind though, that collaborative work between and within teams is also important. Set clear times where all team members should be available to collaborate or discuss projects, and make sure your leadership team is on board with any proposed schedule.
Feedback doesn’t have to bounce between an employee and their manager.
Fellow co-workers can applaud one another for their hard work, make suggestions, and offer their two-cents.
Some employees might consider feedback from their peers more honest. As a result, they’d be more inclined towards acting on it.
Besides, by encouraging peer-to-peer feedback, you can ignite conversations among your employees and boost engagement.
You can also use an employee recognition tool for this purpose.
Finally, make sure that you’re providing appropriate benefits to your remote employees.
Here are some ideas:
Before anything else, have a chat with your finance department to see what you can realistically afford.
We’re dealing with an unprecedented crisis, and it’s unreasonable to expect employees to completely tune-out the headlines while they’re working. Try starting every meeting by asking your team how they’re feeling, what’s going on in their world, and how you can support them.
You can also invite your team members to schedule news and family check-ins throughout the day. Make sure they don’t feel like they can’t follow the headlines, or check in on their family members. Just invite them to do it in a way that’s conducive to staying focused in between.
Go for outdoor walks during 1:1 meetings with your team to encourage physical movement throughout the day. Use Zoom from your phones and give each other virtual tours of our neighborhoods.
If you’ve had success with wellness challenges in the past, you might try reviving it with a remote spin. Just make sure it’s accessible for all levels and abilities.
If you’re a parent, you know that your biggest challenge in working remotely is going to be keeping your kids entertained throughout the day, especially while you’re on calls. But if your kid has a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out), give them a chance to participate once in a while. Set up a “conference call”for employee’s kids to connect over Zoom.
It gives them a break from the boredom, makes them feel involved, and creates space for connectedness for our families.
In the end, it’s important to have a process in place for actually measuring how engaged your remote employees are.
What’s the point of implementing those employee engagement ideas for remote workers if they’re not working?
For those who’ve never done this before, the best way to measure employee engagement is to use surveys.
You can include as many questions as you want in your surveys (as long as they’re relevant).
Here are a few examples of employee engagement survey questions:
In the end, make sure you’re using the right metrics, such as:
If you’ve tried everything, maybe try revisiting your remote work policy and look for any potential flaws.
The GoCo team is working hard to support HR pros through COVID-19. Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center for more tools and tips 💚