Remote Working: How to Keep Employees Motivated and Engaged

Remote Working January 19 Resolve Tech Solutions

In the last few years, companies across the world have embraced remote work as a part of their regular workplace strategy. COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of this practice to a new level. Despite the enforced nature of remote work, most employees were able to transition and even thrive in this new normal.

A survey by Buffer and AngelList suggests that 70% of the respondents are happy with the amount of time they work remotely. However, adapting to the concept of remote work also comes with a set of challenges:

  • Limited opportunities for peer-to-peer interactions
  • Lack of communication between team members
  • A sense of isolation and loneliness

Most organizations opt for team building activities and virtual sessions to boost productivity, motivation, and a general sense of wellbeing among their remote workers. However, it is more beneficial for companies to examine the desired outcomes first and then tailor these activities to suit their goals.

Here are examples of some interesting methods and tools that companies can use to motivate employees working remotely. These tools are grouped based on the outcomes to be achieved, so companies can choose the methods that best suit their needs.

Build emotional connections

Remote work offers little opportunities for employees to interact with each other on a personal level. As a result, they miss out on forming social bonds with their team members. Informal/planned interactions or sharing of day-to-day experiences during these activities will help them leverage personal insights and enhance professional relationships.

  • Rose/thorn ice breakers – mindfulness activity that builds camaraderie through exchanging positive and negative experiences
  • Virtual coffee/tea breaks – informal, non-rule-based exchange of ideas for team members who interact with each other irregularly
  • Donut – a Slack extension that mimics water cooler chitchats by automatically pairing colleagues for pre-scheduled 30 min video calls

Improve collaborative thinking

People working in a remote setup often face difficulties in working as a part of a team. Participating in these virtual game sessions, along with their colleagues, will push them into working together and employ a collective strategy for achieving a common purpose.

  • Murder in Ancient Egypt, a facilitated murder mystery involving puzzles, problem-solving situations, and team challenges
  • War of the Wizards, a live RPG-based event with escape rooms, puzzle-solving, storytelling, and world-building

“Technology now allows people to connect anytime, anywhere, to anyone in the world, from almost any device. This is dramatically changing the way people work, facilitating 24/7 collaboration with colleagues who are dispersed across time zones, countries, and continents. ” — Michael Dell, Dell

Promote creativity

Creative expression can help remote employees to recharge, regroup, and step away from routine activities & try to spark imaginative thinking. Organizations can use team-building sessions like these to highlight individual or collaborative creativity of their remote workers.

  • Spreadsheet Pixel Art uses Google Spreadsheets for showcasing art and imagination.
  • DIY Craft Challenges created by taking supplies from home and building objects within a stipulated time

Enhance critical thinking

Companies looking to promote critical thinking and planning skills in their employees often use fun, informative, and collaborative exercises like lateral thinking icebreakers and desert island scenarios. Team members choose a list of objects and settings for responding to the challenges. Exchanging perspectives on choices show critical reasoning aspects of each employee as well as helps assimilate new ideas/views.

Cultivate employee wellness culture

One of the most effective ways to ensure a healthy workforce is by making health challenges a regular team-based activity. Team-building exercises like these encourage employees to focus on getting in shape and finding a positive work-life balance.

  • Water Shots – A Healthy hydration-based activity triggered by repetitive actions or verbal phrases during team meetings.
  • Health challenges involving friendly competition and exercise tasks like completing “X” number of pushups, squats, lunges.

Improve general knowledge

Trivia-based virtual sessions like Quiz Up or Water Cooler Trivia are fun, stress-free ways to boost information recall capabilities and enhance learning in a variety of areas

Celebrate good work/success

In a study, 37% of employees quoted job recognition as one of the most important methods of support in increasing their productivity. Recognizing the efforts of employees as individuals or team members helps them achieve a sense of pride and belonging. Companies can do this through peer-to-peer appreciation or by encouraging professional growth.

  • #you-are-awesome Channel on Slack for giving shout outs to team members
  • Facilitate professional development through individual/team-based learning programs

“You can never over-communicate enough as a leader at a company, but at a remote company, nothing could be truer. Because you don’t physically see people in-person, information doesn’t spread in the same way, so leaders need to do the heavy lifting for evangelizing the message.” — Claire Lew, Know Your Team

A report by OWL Labs shows that 42% of employees plan to make remote work a regular practice for the next few years. While companies are getting ready to rearrange their operations to fit this new normal, it also behooves them to spend some time focusing on employees who may end up feeling disconnected from their usual work environment. Identifying the areas of concern and working on them through fun activities to foster collaboration, communication, and camaraderie are positive steps towards creating a healthy and productive remote workplace.