How to Engage Remote Employees

Just when we feel we’ve gotten a handle on how to engage employees, COVID-19 throws us a huge curve ball. Now, we must master ways to engage remote employees. And we’re not talking about just a few employees, but a whole workforce.

There’s no doubt that’s an enormous challenge. Surely you’ve thought about morning zoom meetings, virtual coffee breaks and happy hours. But with many employees adding homeschooling duties to their daily to do lists, coordinating group conversations can be difficult.

Learning how to engage remote employees during COVID-19 doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are 5 simple ways that you may not have thought of yet.

1. A Game of Telephone

Yes, this is straight out of lower school. But, hear me out. You have a greater chance of being free for a call at the same time as one other person on your team than you do with everyone on your team. So, have one person communicate information to one person who then calls another person and then that person calls the next person and so on. Of course, the type of information needs to lend itself to this sort of thing. If something work related doesn’t work, try something humorous. Yes, you could try a group call, but those usually take up a lot more time. You could email but you won’t get the same level of connection. And sometimes, it’s nice to connect one-on-one with someone. It’s more intimate. In most cases it’s also a higher quality connection and more meaningful in terms of maintaining engagement. Change-up your call line up daily so you have the chance to connect with different people on your team.

2. Work Like You Meme It

Humor is a great distraction and a much needed tool to engage remote employees during COVID-19. Try having a meme contests. We have random thoughts about our work and the current state of affairs all the time. Take some meme time to think them over, match them to an existing clip or create your own. Knowing how to engage remote employees during COVID-19 doesn’t have to take a lot of effort to be greatly appreciated by your staff.

3. Share your #ZoomNightmares

We’re all adjusting to this new normal. Maintaining a “business as usual,” attitude isn’t easy. Have you tried to conduct a Zoom call with a client only to have your kid or four-legged friend steal the show? I came across a post on LinkedIn where an executive mentioned that while he stepped away from his call to grab a notepad, his toddler snuck into the room to do a naked bum dance. Many others commented on their experiences so the good news is, you’re not alone. Share your #ZoomNightmares internally. Rather than getting frustrated with this shift, help your employees embrace the moments that will surely become memories once this is all over.

4. Team Bingo

Create a live excel bingo doc with a mix of tasks. Of course, some can be work related. But, be sure to include fun things as well. Some of our favorite examples of how to engage remote employees include: cooking a new recipe, Marie Kondo-ing your closet and calling your mom! These activities can help you connect with employees at a safe social distance without having to all be on the same schedule.

5. Make an Assessment

If there’s one thing you can be sure of, it’s that everyone is taking time for some personal reflection. Why not capitalize on that and offer your employees the opportunity to take various personal and professional assessments. With many companies facing restructuring of one form or another, it’s a good time to engage in this practice. If you’ve experienced layoffs, you may need to delegate a range of tasks to your remaining employees. This is a great way to get your team aligned. They’ll be able to share them and learn more about each other, even though they’re not together.

One final tip. Don’t try too hard. It’s natural to want to engage remote employees during COVID-19 but  do temper your expectations. You can’t expect the rules of engagement that apply in the office to apply while everyone is homebound. Given the enormity of the current situation, it’s more important to have empathy for your employees. Check-in to see how they are doing personally. Have a conversation that doesn’t include work and be supportive.

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