5 Employee Engagement Ideas for Working Remotely through COVID-19

Tips from a Manager on How to Preserve a Close-Knit Culture over Zoom.

by Allie Collins, Director of Marketing @ GoCo

How to Keep Your Employees Engaged While Working Remotely Through COVID-19

Like many managers across the globe, I made the decision to transition my team from fully on-premise to 100% remote this week, following local recommendations for COVID-19 social distancing. I’m not particularly concerned about my team’s productivity—we’re all adults who have deadlines and goals to hit, and my team of overachievers isn’t likely to let those slip.

But the magic of our teams at GoCo comes not just from our high achievement—it comes from how we collaborate and connect with one another as humans. So the question on our managers’ minds (and probably yours too), is how do we keep the spirit of human connection and employee engagement alive when we’re not in the same building?

I suspect the answer is super unique to each company, but I wanted to share a few of the ways that we’re tackling it here at GoCo.

1. Create space for talking about what’s going on in the world

We’re dealing with an unprecedented crisis, and it’s unreasonable to expect employees to completely tune-out the headlines while they’re working. So I’m starting every meeting by asking my team how they’re feeling, what’s going on in their world, and how I can support them.

I also invited my team members to schedule news and family check-ins throughout the day. I don’t want them to feel like they can’t follow the headlines, or check in on their family members, but I invite them to do it in a way that’s conducive to staying focused in between.

And to keep the conversation flowing, we created a #novel-coronavirus Slack channel, where we’re sharing information, tips, and the occasional meme.

2. Keep the fun alive

One of the things we pride ourselves on at GoCo is being really good at having fun. We play all kinds of games and activities at lunch, everything from Monopoly Deal to ping-pong and even piano.

Our engineers even created a Slack-bot version of our favorite role-playing game, Avalon, which we’re playing remotely over Zoom at lunchtime. (You can download it here if your team wants to play!) In the wake of all this bad news, it feels good to keep some fun in the mix.

3. Host walking 1:1s to keep teams active

Back at the office, we have stand-up desks and go for outdoor walks during 1:1 meetings to encourage physical movement throughout the day. Now that we’re remote, I’m taking a 15-minute break twice a day to play t-ball with my son in the backyard, and trying to take walks on calls where I don’t need to share my screen. For 1:1s, we’re Zooming from our phones and giving 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.

4. Make it a family affair

As a parent, I know that my biggest challenge in working remotely is going to be keeping my 4-year-old entertained throughout the day, especially while I’m on calls. But I also know that my kid has a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out), and he’s most likely to leave me alone if I give him a chance to participate once in a while. So I set up a daily Little GoCoNut Conference

for our employee’s kids (or “Little GoCoNuts” as we like to call them) to connect over Zoom.

It gives them a break from the boredom, makes them feel involved, and creates space for connectedness for our families.

5. Encourage feedback every step of the way

As with any employee engagement program (or anything you do at all), you won’t know if it’s effective if you don’t measure it. That’s why Sarah, our People Operations Manager, is checking in with employees regularly, surveying them often, and keeping a pulse on remote employee connections. You can even set up a MagicDoc in GoCo to capture feedback on any and all of your employee engagement programs. You can try it free here.

The bottom line is that we’re all in this thing together, and a little human connection will go a long way to helping each other get through it. Drop us a line at twitter.com/gocoio if you have other ideas for keeping employees engaged through COVID-19!

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