It seems that the pandemic has forced many companies to rethink how they handle their workforce, so it might be time to throw out the old rulebook of engagement – if it has actually ever worked. We already know that engagement rates among employees are staggeringly low across multiple industries. Add this health crisis into the mix, and people are hardly going to feel at ease and focused on their work with all the bad news popping up at every turn.
Since companies have had to switch to remote work and send their teams home, the challenge to retain, let alone increase engagement has doubled. To help you cope with these new setbacks, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most effective ways to boost engagement in your new remote teams. Use the listed ideas to empower your organization, to make the most of your work hours, and of course, to remind people why they love working under your wing to begin with.
Weekly virtual team building
We won’t be able to enjoy events in actual, physical spaces for a good, long while. Knowing that, you cannot allow your teams to grow apart simply because they don’t have that daily watercooler chat or an opportunity to share a lunch in the common room.
That is why you need to organize weekly meetings that will serve as your organization’s team-building opportunity. Choose themes and topics that your employees enjoy, such as happy hour at home, playing online games, or organizing a trivia night, or even watch a movie together on Netflix. Find activities you all enjoy, and you can expect your employees to feel more motivated and thus much more engaged.
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Of course, they’ll need ADSL or even high-end fiber internet to ensure high-quality connection; and with possibly multiple household members working remotely, access to the right device may not be guaranteed at all times. So make sure to take into account access to a stable internet connection when scheduling these events.
Regular feedback exchanges
Every part of your business depends on the performance of all others. Your customer support teams can only do their jobs if the marketing team gives them the right data and the salespeople bring in quality leads. Then again, your own ability to lead an organization is far from perfect, and recognizing that you have room for improvement makes you a better leader.
Spotting opportunities and using them even remotely will bring your teams closer. Much like you organize those weekly meetings to assign work and ask if anyone needs help, you should set up regular feedback sessions that go both ways. Even team-wide brainstorming sessions on how to improve remote collaboration and your business can make your remote employees feel more valued and heard, so keep that as an option, too.
Smarter time management
Managing your time and schedule for multiple teams is a breeze when everyone is on site and available. Once you start working remotely, setting up schedules when you have shifts in your organization can become an issue, especially for your customer support teams and your sales department working with different time zones.
The simplest way to create your employee roster while working remotely is to use software that provides visibility for everyone in your organization. In turn, that means everyone can see when people are expected to log on, when they have meetings and shouldn’t be disturbed, and when someone is available to provide help and guidance. Enabling transparency for your remote teams will improve their communication for everyday tasks, but also for long-term planning.
Use PM tools to your advantage
Technology has been instrumental in helping remote teams connect and engage. Among many solutions at your disposal, it seems that classic project management tools are the most promising in terms of ensuring greater organizational effectiveness and overall engagement from teams.
- Real-time collaboration makes creative exchanges much easier for all your teams.
- Having clear milestones, KPIs, and goals outlined helps provide structure to their remote work.
- Live chat provides a safe space for non-business interactions as well as project-related communication, both of which can help strengthen the bonds in your teams.
- Time-tracking and reporting helps give your teams a perspective and potential solutions when they come across issues.
- They can use PM tools on the go with their phones and tablets, making it easier to adjust their workload to their family schedule.
Invest in your team’s wellbeing
It’s not as if engagement is your issue only up to the moment the clock strikes five and your employees sign out of their project management accounts and go back to their families. If they have trouble sleeping due to all the stress, if they haven’t still adapted to remote work because they have toddlers, or if they forget to hydrate – engagement will suffer.
Take your time to encourage your teams to invest in their wellbeing and happiness outside the office. Check in every once in a while, see what they are up to and if they have a hobby or a workout system they enjoy. Their overall quality of life greatly impacts their ability to be focused and engaged at work, and it’s up to you to encourage work-life balance and help them set boundaries when they work remotely.
All qualities of your organization and your culture work together to deliver the results you need and achieve the goals you desire. In a sense, productivity cannot improve without engagement, much like engagement cannot improve without a culture based on the right values, and accountability cannot exist without some kind of supervision and feedback. As intricate as it is to be a leader in this day and age and with a remote workforce, you can create an engagement strategy to elevate your business effectiveness and to make your teams happy.
Infographic created by Insperity, an employee benefits outsourcing company