Last year, social distancing hit us out of the blue. Our work didn’t stop, though, so many of us found ourselves wondering how to integrate our work and home lives, and more importantly, how to keep ourselves and others actively engaged and happy at work.
Staying engaged while working from home is difficult. All it requires, though, is the right mindset and the right tools. If you lead a remote team—as many of us do these days—you’re faced with unique managerial and social obstacles that we’ve seldom seen before. To help you lean into the leader you truly are, here are some tips for keeping your team happy and productive on the job.
Tips For Staying Engaged While Working Remotely
The first thing you need to do to keep your team members engaged is talk to them. Studies show that one of the biggest hurdles of working remotely is the loneliness that accompanies it.
To prevent my team members from getting lonely, I always talk with them both about work and their personal lives. For example, when I was working with one of my team members on a project about virtual mailboxes, we often called each other just to see how the other was doing. We held formal and informal calls to catch up and take small breaks during the writing process, and that balance eased the tension and helped us stay right on track. As an added benefit, it’s been shown that having a best friend at work boosts employee productivity and well-being. More engaged team members means lower turnover, which keeps the cost of running our blog low.
For me, the key to keeping remote employees engaged is ensuring they know that their voice is always heard, something you can achieve through several different types of meetings.
Weekly Monday meetings set expectations for both teams and individuals. If you take the time each week to ask your team members how they’re doing and what they need help with, they’ll feel cared about and stay more engaged.
All-hands meetings get everyone on the same page and introduce people from different teams, encouraging social bonding across functional areas. And informal meetings ease the tension of working hours and help develop a bond between you and your employees that transcends the working environment.
Software That Boosts Engagement
Slack: The Industry Standard For Communication
When it comes to frequent team communication, there’s no better tool than Slack. It’s simple, useful and helps to keep your team progressing toward your goal.
Slack is an excellent way to loop certain team members into certain projects, but not those they don’t need to be involved in. If you’re still communicating with your remote team via email, it’s probably time to migrate to Slack.
Google Meet: The De Facto Meeting Tool
For 1-on-1 or team meetings, we always use Google Meet. As you would expect from Google, the platform is incredibly easy to use, and you can start and share a voice or video call with a single click. Anyone you send your unique link to can join your Google Meet call. Large meetings are not an issue, and you can instantly switch between voice and video calls.
If any of your team members miss a meeting, it’s a good idea to record them for later viewing. You can do this with a simple screencast, though if you want to take your videos to the next level, you can use a tool like Fastreel or Biteable to make them even more engaging via some simple drag and drop add-ons.
One additional benefit of Google Meet is that it’s very lightweight, consuming a surprisingly small amount of data. So whether you’re working from a major city or a digital nomad hotspot, your calls will always be clear.
Trello & Asana: Project Management Tools
Engagement is about fulfillment and happiness, but it’s also about staying focused. And some of the most impactful tools when it comes to focus are project management tools like Trello and Asana.
Trello works as a kanban board where you and your team can see every task that needs to be done. When you update the status of a task, the changes are immediately visible to your entire team, keeping you all on the same page. Asana, on the other hand, is more focused on entire projects than individual tasks. It offers a wider outlook than Trello does, though many users find them very similar.
Not everyone is used to working remotely, and not everyone will adapt to it in the same way. To prevent any loss in productivity, it’s best to guide and encourage all of your team members according to their specific needs. Regular meetings covering both work and non-work topics will help everyone settle in, while being conscious of engagement while choosing software tools will ensure you set yourself up for success.
More than anything, though, the key to keeping your team engaged as a leader is showing them that you care. When you show up for them, they’ll become stronger and work more efficiently. Embody the leader you know you are and help your team through these difficult times.