How to Celebrate Remote Employees and Keep Them Engaged

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It can be difficult to keep your employees engaged when you have a remote team. The solitude of remote work can cause distance between your team members, which may in turn affect productivity. Some factors can even make it difficult for someone on a job hunt to consider remote job opportunities especially when they have no experience.
So what can you do to help keep your employees engaged and on track? We’ve laid out some tips and suggestions to help you answer that question, with a specific focus on remote employee celebrations

Social interaction between employees helps to facilitate idea creation and collaboration, employee satisfaction, and, ultimately, the success of the business. Remote employees may need help to find natural ways to connect with both their manager as well as their co-workers. Here are some best practices. 

Make Goals and Plans Transparent

It’s vital to align your employees with a common goal so that they can work toward the same endpoint. This can be an easy and natural way to give them a reason to interact with each other, especially if the goal requires interaction amongst the team. It’s also important to make sure you are transparent. If you want to ensure employees work together and interact collaboratively to accomplish an assignment, make it known. There should be no question about whether employees should put their head down and work by themselves, or if they should reach out to coworkers to solve problems and bounce ideas off of one another. Communicate expectations clearly and often.

Think about the use of a recurring all-hands virtual meeting that will allow the team to check in with you and each other so that you can review progress. Compare video call providers to find the best fit for your needs. A daily “stand-up” style meeting is popular for small organizations or teams. A virtual meeting is the perfect opportunity for team members to ask questions, make sure everyone’s on the same page, provide new information and updates, and clear up any confusion around tasks.

Celebrate Holidays and Special Events

Remote work means that special events will look different, but they are still important to celebrate. Special events and holidays can help break up the normal work schedule and give employees a chance to enjoy the company of their colleagues. An easy way you to recognize a coworker’s birthday is to send out birthday ecards. You can also send ecards for seasonal occasions or work anniversaries.

Seasonal occasions provide inspiration for a variety of events and gatherings that can break up the work schedule for your employees. The summer is ideal cookouts and barbeques for local employees (send summer party invitations to organize) and the winter is a perfect time to hold a virtual office holiday party. Whatever the season is, there is likely a holiday party to plan that can bring your employees together, or at least get them together virtually. And if not, there is likely something right around the corner!

Celebrate Health and Wellness

Exercise is tremendously important to us all. It not only helps to keep us healthy and in shape but also serves to benefit our mental health as well. This is especially important for remote employees to remember. Someone who works remotely might not only be suffering from a lack of extracurricular exercise but they may less engaged in the natural exercise we all should get throughout a normal day since they don’t have to leave their home to get to work.

A key priority in managing your remote employees should be to look out for their health and try to make sure they are physically and mentally well. Here are a few examples as to how you might want to keep your employees engaged and active while working from home with some healthy exercise.

  • Wellness Programs: Implement a wellness program that celebrates achievements with reward points. For example, you might offer a prize for the employee who participates in the most mental or physical health exercises or have a steps competition to see who can walk the most in a week or month. Competition can be a great motivational factor for some employees. 

  • Flexible Hours: Flexible work hours are also something you might consider because they can help your employees feel more comfortable taking a break from work. Whether employees go out for a walk or do a quick meditation, any activity that gives them a break from sitting all day should be encouraged! 

  • Free Day Off: You might even consider a random day off for your team when the weather is nice. Encourage your team members to use their day off to decompress, get off their computers, and get outside! 

Check In With 1:1s

Employees need to feel supported in order to do great work. Showing employees how they are appreciated and valued can have an enormous boost to their productivity as well as their mental attitude toward their work. But what is the best way to do this? 

Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with employees is a great place to start. Meetings like this help employers get to know their employees better and can help them learn how to best support them in their day-to-day as well as more complex tasks. During a check-in, you can talk candidly with your employee about their work and see if there is anything that concerns them about their workload. 

While a meeting like this can serve as an opportunity to give constructive criticism, it is also the perfect opportunity to tell your employee how much you appreciate the work they are doing and explain what they are doing well. Verbal praise like this can serve to enhance an employee’s overall mood and productivity. 

Encourage Non-Related Work Banter

For a lot of people, work-related banter is not always the most interesting topic of conversation. If all you do is talk about work, you can start to burn out since it will seem to be the only thing ever on your mind! 

Encourage light-hearted and non-work-related chit-chat during work hours over digital communication channels and on video chats. When you allow workers to engage amongst themselves with topics of their own interest this can serve to boost camaraderie and can in turn positively affect the working relationships of your employees. Workers are more likely to happily and collaboratively work with someone they are friendly with as opposed to someone who they barely know outside of work-related topics. 

While remote employees might not be able to physically gather around the water cooler to chat, there are still ways to encourage communication. For example, you can host casual online hangouts periodically for the entire team or schedule weekly, virtual “coffee chats” so that employees can talk one-on-one with their coworkers.

Increase Collaboration Efforts

Employees that feel like they are a part of the company are more motivated to do great work. Employees who have no real connection to their coworkers or their place of work tend to not be as engaged or inspired in terms of the work they do. 

There are many ways for you to help employees get to the point where they don’t just feel like a cog in the machine and they actually feel like a part of something greater. Collaboration may be one of your most effective tools for getting through to your employees and helping them feel like a real part of the team. Some easy-to-implement collaboration efforts include:

  • Feedback: Ask your employees for feedback on processes. This can be a meaningful way to help employees feel like they have a voice within the organization but also can help to bring you ideas you may not have thought of otherwise.

  • Create team tasks: Make an effort to take an assignment that is typically done by one individual and assign it to a few employees instead. Encourage employees to work together to complete the task and, if possible, come up with ways that the task can be done better and/or faster. 

  • Awards: You can give out awards for great teamwork. A monthly or quarterly prize like this can motivate employees to seek out collaborative opportunities on their own and can bolster internal discussion amongst colleagues towards common goals.

Understand the Challenges

There are employees who do not work well from home. Certain types of people thrive on in-person interaction. They're most comfortable and successful when they work in a team environment. As an employer, it is important for you to understand the challenges that your workers face and that you know how to address them and meet your workers’ needs. 

The best way to deal with situations like this is to remember to be patient. It’s vital that you empathize and listen to your employees so that you can address any of the challenges they face head-on in a supportive manner.

Remote work can be a challenge for any team. Remember to support your employees who work remotely, celebrate together, and recognize important milestones, and you’ll be well on your way to success. 

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