What is Remote Employee Engagement?
It might sound tricky to keep people engaged when they’re not physically together. The rise of remote work has challenged traditional workplace dynamics, and altered what employees expect from their employers.
But remote employee engagement strategies do exist, and they can be very effective. In fact, they’re essential! Otherwise, remote workers can start to feel like Tom Hanks in Cast Away—deserted on a virtual island, with only a volleyball for company.
Here, we’ll explore why remote employee engagement matters now more than ever, and share some best practices for creating it. We’ll also suggest ten “just for fun” activities you can try today.
Why Remote Employee Engagement Matters
Today, approximately 22 million people work remotely in the United States — a number that’s only expected to rise. A recent study found that 98% of employees want the option to work remotely at least some of the time.
Distributed work is here to stay, and companies must establish a new paradigm for engagement. The payoffs of investing in a remote employee engagement strategy include:
- Boosts Productivity: Employees who feel connected, valued, and supported are more motivated and take ownership of their work.
- Reduces Employee Turnover: A disconnected employee is more likely to switch jobs. Engaging remote workers increases employee retention—saving the company time and money.
- Improves Collaboration: By encouraging open communication and fostering a culture of feedback, companies increase collaboration among remote employees.
- Promotes Employee Health and Well-being: Remote work can be isolating. According to a 2022 study, employees listed loneliness as one of the top challenges of remote work. By providing support and opportunities for professional growth, managers create a more fulfilling work experience.
6 Best Practices for Remote Employee Engagement
Focusing on remote employee engagement benefits all employees—whether working in an office or from home. By creating an environment where even the most distant employees feel connected and supported, companies boost performance and employee satisfaction.
The following are six best practices for engaging remote employees.
Default to Cameras On During Meetings
Cameras during meetings help build relationships and encourage human connection. First, visibility promotes active participation. When cameras are on, people are less likely to multitask.
At the same time, participants can pick up on nonverbal cues—such as nodding, hand gestures, and body language. Employees receive these signals as a sign that they are being heard. They can also check for understanding and clarify when needed.
Assign Mentors to New Hires
Onboarding remote employees creates unique challenges. It can be difficult to convey the company’s values, mission, and culture virtually. And introducing team members requires planning. Employees won’t meet colleagues in passing—like while riding the elevator or making their morning coffee.
A mentorship program helps new hires navigate the virtual onboarding process. Mentors can provide emotional support and advice, assisting new hires in adjusting to their work environment. They can also help remote workers build relationships with their peers.
Ask and Listen for Feedback
Creating a culture of feedback is critical for distributed teams. By fostering communication and transparency, companies promote an inclusive environment where employees feel valued.
Feedback can be formal or informal. For example, you can schedule quarterly surveys or ask for feedback during an annual performance review. One-on-one check-ins and weekly team syncs are also great opportunities for feedback.
Some best practices include:
- Create a routine. Schedule regular surveys or one-on-one conversations dedicated to feedback.
- Ask open-ended and specific questions. This allows employees to provide a more nuanced response.
- Make sure feedback becomes real change and improvement. Record feedback, create action items, and share progress with your team for increased transparency.
- Be mindful that not everyone will feel comfortable sharing feedback. Use multiple communication channels to solicit suggestions—including video calls, messaging apps, email, polls, or surveys.
- Include all team members in the conversation. If an employee makes a suggestion during a smaller team meeting, add it to your weekly team sync agenda. This will allow all team members to contribute.
Provide Clear Guidelines for Remote Employees
Providing guidelines for remote workers ensures their success and alignment with the organization’s goals. Companies should establish expectations around work hours, availability, equipment, privacy and security, and communication etiquette.
Consider creating a remote resources library. Companies can include policies and procedures and FAQs. By making guidelines accessible, organizations foster a sense of trust and accountability.
Provide Training and Development
Learning opportunities are essential to promote engagement and growth within a distributed work environment. These initiatives not only help remote workers acquire new skills and knowledge. They also demonstrate a company’s commitment to employee development.
A successful training and development program starts with a learning culture. Companies should invest in the technology and tools that make it easy for employees to continue learning. This includes offering various training options—like e-learning platforms, webinars, workshops, and self-paced modules.
Acknowledge Remote Employee Accomplishments
Employee recognition makes remote workers feel valued and appreciated. Consistent acknowledgment can help remote employees feel more aligned with company values and goals.
Organizations should make employee recognition an ongoing practice. Managers should provide positive feedback during one-on-one meetings and performance evaluations. Work anniversaries are also an excellent opportunity to celebrate accomplishments and express appreciation.
At the same time, public acknowledgment is critical. Sharing employee accomplishments during team meetings and communication channels encourages peer-to-peer interactions—boosting morale.
10 “Just for Fun” Virtual Employee Engagement Activities
Virtual activities can foster a positive and connected remote work culture. They provide opportunities for employees to socialize and build camaraderie. These initiatives also help alleviate the feelings of isolation often associated with remote work.
Employee engagement activities should be inclusive and tailored to the interests and preferences of your team. Here are ten “just for fun” activity ideas to get you started.
- Set up virtual coffee breaks between employees.
- Plan a themed dress-up day (e.g., ugly sweater, sports day, college shirt day, wear specific colors).
- Host an online trivia game.
- Create a fitness challenge.
- Host a pet show-and-tell.
- Encourage themed backgrounds (e.g., the first band you saw in concert, a picture of your pet, or your dream vacation destination).
- Invite a guest speaker to discuss a topic outside of work. This could include a DIY workshop or a motivational speaker.
- Create team music playlists and encourage team members to add their favorite songs.
- Organize an online scavenger hunt. Create a list of clues of items employees need to find around their house.
- Host a cooking or baking challenge. For example, you can ask employees to share photos of their best cookie recipes.
Boost Remote Employee Engagement with 15Five
Remote employee engagement leads to better outcomes for your employees and your organization. By making remote workers feel valued, companies boost collaboration, productivity, and employee satisfaction.
15Five is a virtual employee engagement platform. Using 15Five’s engagement assessment features, companies can measure what matters. We offer easy-to-use and customizable engagement surveys that can be completed on any device. And with our analytics dashboard, companies can implement and track data-driven initiatives to enhance remote employee engagement.
Book a demo today to see why over 3,500 organizations use 15Five to maximize remote employee engagement.