Saturday, November 28, 2020

4 Tips to Boost Remote Employee Engagement

Molly Boyer
May 01, 2020

5 minute read

Many companies are now navigating how to not only keep operations running smoothly, but also how to maintain employee engagement and a positive workplace culture.

After all, research by the Harvard Research Review shows that investing in your team’s well-being does more than retain a talented workforce. Happy employees are also the key factor in acquiring and keeping happy customers. Not only that, but a recent study by the University of Oxford also found that they’re more productive.

While it can be an exercise in creativity to rethink the ways in which your team can maintain a strong work culture digitally, it’s not impossible. Here are 4 tips your team can leverage to boost company morale and increase employee engagement right now.

Choose the right communications tool for your meetings

While nothing can replace in-person interactions in the office, you can use online video tools such as Zoom more intentionally to make sure everyone feels connected to one another. Host weekly meetings or check-ins from the leadership team for “Ask me anything” sessions. Transparency and openness can go a long way to reassure team members who are not used to working in a fully remote environment.

For smaller group meetings, spend a few minutes checking in on how people are doing before diving in to work. And if the meeting is more casual and you don’t require screen sharing, perhaps use that opportunity to take your meeting on-the-go. For instance, if you’re holding a one-on-one with your direct report, get some fresh air and take a brief walk as you catch up.

Encourage continual engagement and collaboration

Just because the entire team may be working from home doesn’t mean you need to schedule an overload of meetings. To increase communications effectively (and to avoid fatigue), leverage additional channels to help others feel connected, with less pressure.

As an example, you can increase the cadence of your team-wide emails or create interest-based Slack channels to help people connect with one another asynchronously. Some Slack-channel examples include groups for Peloton riders, beer lovers, WFH parents, pet pictures, and so on, to share funny stories, pictures, and tips with others.

Spice up team meetings and calls

Are there any team events or programs you would have hosted in person? Innovate how you can provide a similar experience online. Here are just a few ideas to provide some team-wide fun.

  • Virtual trivia. Get together to test your knowledge of random facts! Here’s how to implement it for your team.
  • Guess the baby. Prior to your next team meeting, request a call for baby pictures. During the first 5–10 minutes, dedicate time to guess who’s who. It may be surprising!
  • Coloring pages. If your design team has some bandwidth, you can create some child and adult coloring books to share with your networks for their next “brain break.”
  • Company recipe book. So many people are now at-home cooks! Compile your team’s favorite recipes and put them together in a book you can circulate. With more time indoors, team members can try each other’s favorite recipes.
  • Virtual Bring Your Child to Work. National Bring Your Child to Work Day was on April 23; however, that’s just about every day now for those who have young children and work from home. Pick a date that works for your team to host various virtual activities throughout the day. Fun things you can schedule are readings, cooking classes, coding lessons, and more, which all family members could tune in to.
  • Virtual hackathon. The Oracle Data Cloud team typically hosts a hackathon every spring and fall where members come from offices all over the world to work on various projects. These projects are primarily based on their interests and can relate to their job responsibilities or be completely random. This spring, we’re hosting it online. Teams will have one week (instead of a day) to meet on video chat and complete a project that will get voted on at the end of the event.
  • Virtual philanthropy drive. Does your company have a matching program? If so, run a formal online drive to provide community support to those in need.
  • Puzzles. Alternatively, there are also activities you can do offline, but still together as a team. For instance, your team could purchase the same puzzle and update one another on your progress as you put it together.

Show empathy and understanding

Ultimately, what matters most is the health of your team. Yet, according to Gallup’s leadership audit survey, fewer than half of employees (45%) strongly agree that their organization cares about their well-being.

How are you showing employees that you have their best interests in mind? The desire to be heard, valued, and supported is not new or unique as far as transitioning to remote work—just heightened in times of uncertainty.

The same survey also noted that “only the direct manager can know each employee’s situation, keep them informed; and adjust expectations, coaching, and accountability to inspire high performance.” Work with all team members to tailor the best course of action for them to ensure they feel supported at home and at work, as some may also be balancing work with childcare, homeschooling, or caring for other family members.

Gallup found that there are 5 elements that contribute to employees’ overall well-being. Think about how your team can support each of these to boost morale:

  1. Physical: Working from home can mean less time commuting, but it can also translate to more sedentary time at one’s desk. Encourage team members to incorporate some form of exercise into each day, even if that’s just a quick walk around the block between meetings.
  2. Social: Remote work may feel isolating, especially if teams are used to interacting in the office every day. Schedule a fun event from the previous section above to weave in some nonwork-related activities to bond with your team. As travel and vacation schedules have shifted, encourage personal health days so your team is able to recharge.
  3. Career: Does your team feel challenged and motivated to develop their professional skills? Point them to any online courses available to help them build their acumen. For example, Oracle University is providing discounted digital trainings through the end of May.
  4. Financial: Do your team members feel secure in their economic situations? Share your organization’s available financial resources to help them assess or plan their finances.
  5. Community: In what ways can your company support efforts to give back to society? If there are internal fundraisers, or matching programs, remind team members that there are many avenues to support their community in times of need.

Shifting to a remote working environment will be a different experience for every team. But using the above tips as a guide can help your employees feel secure, engaged, and empowered to continue delivering an exceptional customer experience.

What are some additional ways your team has boosted company morale since going remote?

Interested in more tech trends and apps while working from home? Browse the following:

Molly Boyer
Molly Boyer is a mother of four, a runner, and a music lover. She’s one of the biggest hockey fans you’ll meet (her 10-year-old is her favorite player). Molly is the Director of Employee Communications & Experience at Oracle Data Cloud and has almost 24 years of experience in marketing across the tech industry. by Oracle is the destination for professionals who are building the next generation of customer experience. Here, you can find breaking news, in-depth analyses, expert insights, and useful tools that will empower you to think and work progressively.