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Virtual employee engagement activities are ways to improve the relationship between an organization and its remote workers. How would you motivate your team to work from home? Know here
Keeping your virtual employees engaged is a top priority. Most companies were forced to embrace remote working at least to some extent, and while some have found it effective, others have faced many challenges with trying to keep employees engaged and happy.
The hard truth is that working remotely will never be completely equal to working in an office. The ability to collaborate, get answers, and even build personal connections will always be better in person, but that doesn’t mean that virtual work doesn’t offer its own advantages.
Many people actually prefer to work remotely, but only if the company knows how to organize work for virtual employees and keep them engaged and productive.
To help you become better at managing and engaging your remote workforce, let’s explore five unique virtual employee engagement ideas that you could try out.
1. Virtual Happy Hour
Enjoying a couple of drinks at the office can be a great bonding experience that allows workers to unwind and develop more personal connections.
However, remote teams usually don’t have the opportunity to participate, which can create separation and even hurt the morale of the people working from home.
Luckily, if you’re willing to get creative, you can help all of your employees enjoy the same advantages of an office happy hour, no matter where they might be.
With a virtual happy hour you can recreate the entire experience through the web, organizing an environment where your employees feel included and can get to know each other beyond the work that they do.
To make it successful, you will first need to make sure that people can actually attend. Time zones and different schedules can be tricky, so set up a channel for getting people’s input and seeing what hours or days would work best. You don’t need everyone to attend, but getting at least most of the office present can create a more vibrant atmosphere.
If you want to make it even more fun, you could also add a happy hour theme. If the happy hour is related to a celebration such as a birthday or a holiday, you can center the theme around that, which can help bring people together.
Finally, as a company, you should consider covering the drinks and snacks for everyone involved. You can use platforms like Hoppier to send out virtual credit cards that people can use to buy their favorite beers and snacks.
2. Quarterly Secret Santa
Secret Santa is one of the most fun parts of working in an office. You get to exchange gifts with your colleagues, showcasing your personality through your gift and also seeing how well others know you.
It’s very beneficial from the company standpoint as well, as the process tends to bring people together, get them to know each other better, and make them more considerate of each other’s needs.
And the best part is people don’t have to work in the office to participate. The wonders of eCommerce have made it very easy to ship gifts to any location in the world, which means remote teams can be part of the process as well.
However, since Christmas only comes around once a year, you can only get one Secret Santa per year. But in reality, there’s no reason why you couldn’t make Secret Santa an office celebration twice per year or even once every quarter. That way, people can go through the fun process of getting each other small gifts more often.
Still, before you go through with the plan, you have to make sure that people actually want to give each other gifts that often. And if you don’t have Secret Santa at all, it might be a good idea to start with a trial run during Christmas. Then, if everyone (including your remote team) has a good time, you can suggest making it a more common activity the group can enjoy.
3. Fitness Challenge
Employee engagement can depend on countless factors. But one of the critical aspects of being engaged at work is having energy and feeling well. And that usually comes down to how active your employees are on a day-to-day basis.
For remote team members, balancing work and personal life is always a challenge. They can’t just leave the office and forget about work because often their home is also their workplace. And that can stretch the hours they spend in front of a desk and reduce the time they allow themselves to go out and exercise.
So, if you want your employees to stay fit and energized, it’s a good idea to encourage them to get out and achieve their fitness goals. If you succeed, you might even start an office-wide trend that improves everyone’s fitness and contributes to healthier and more fulfilling lifestyles.
To start, create a special Slack chat for the challenge you want to start. Invite everyone to join and try to get as many people as possible. The challenge itself shouldn’t be too complicated and can be as simple as taking a 20-minute walk every day for a month.
If you want, you can also make the challenge more complex and even set up a point system where people can collect points based on their activities and the time they spend exercising.
You can also set up a prize if you want to keep people motivated. That can be either a prize to the person that performs the best or (even better) a collective prize that everyone can enjoy if people accumulate enough points or reach a certain milestone together.
4. Growth Opportunity Planning
While keeping employees engaged through fun activities and challenges is essential, that won’t cover some of the crucial aspects that employees care about. In fact, many employees would agree that career growth opportunities outweigh many of the other perks of working in a company, so you need to consider that when looking for ways to keep your virtual employees happy.
Just as you would with in-office employees, you should set up a process for making sure that they know what they want to achieve and are on the right path towards getting there.
First, you should sit down with your remote employees and get to know their goals, aspirations, and current challenges. Only by knowing where they want to go can you start figuring out how to help them get there and whether your company can offer them the right opportunities in the long-term future.
You should also develop a process for providing your remote employees with learning programs where they can hone their skills, gain new competencies, and expand the range of responsibilities they can take on.
Finally, you should work with each employee to create a career path they can follow. Finding new talent isn’t easy, so having a plan for each worker will help you groom the leaders of the future, making it much easier to fill positions from within, even if it’s from your remote workforce.
No one likes to be micromanaged. Whether working in-office or remotely, people want to maintain a level of autonomy and be allowed to figure things out on their own.
Unfortunately, many managers and leaders struggle with providing their team with enough autonomy to flourish. They believe that they can do a better job and try to micromanage every aspect of the project, leaving no room for employees to grow and learn to accomplish tasks independently.
However, if you want your remote team not to lose focus and remain engaged, you will need to set up a process for giving them autonomy and allowing them to succeed (and sometimes fail) on their own.
Sure, you need to remain present and provide guidance as necessary, but only in a capacity that your remote employees feel comfortable with.
Instead of participating in the entire project, you could set up touchpoints or milestones to review progress, listen to how things are going, and provide feedback accordingly.
You should also be very clear about the goals that need to be achieved, outlining the specific outcomes that should be the focus and also laying out guidelines for how specific situations could be approached.
Finally, you should make sure that your remote team has all the necessary tools for achieving success. Virtual work can be limiting, so whether it’s communication and project management tools or software, consider what might be required to do the job well and in an efficient way before assigning the project.
With more companies being forced to embrace remote work, the old processes for keeping employees engaged will not always work as well as they used to. Some of the ways leaders keep employees motivated will have to evolve, with technology playing a vital role in making productive remote work possible.
Luckily, if you’re willing to get creative and put in the effort in making your virtual employees feel welcome, you can create a vibrant and positive work culture that’s inclusive to everyone, no matter where they might be located.
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