Remote work is becoming more and more popular by the year. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, several businesses have made flexible work options a standard practice. In fact, according to one of the recent studies by economists at MIT, about half of the workforce in the US alone is currently working remotely. This creates a strong base to make an informed prediction that companies will continue to work remotely long after it is guided by health concerns.

If remote work is here to stay, now is the time to invest time and effort into developing efficient digital workplace strategies. When implemented in a timely manner, these can help your business make the most out of the new environment. They can also help attract and maintain the best talent in your field of work.

In this article, we will look into how to make remote employees feel connected when working remotely.

Virtual Employee Engagement Activities During Work from Home

There are lots of benefits that come with a flexible work setup. According to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group, the majority of people who have experienced remote work will favor a job with remote work options. Working remotely eliminates commute-related problems, grants employees more free time and flexibility and lets them spend more time with family. With that, a remote workplace comes with serious challenges of its own.

One of the biggest challenges of running an efficient remote team is the loss of employee engagement. With no “physical” contact with the company and fewer ways to communicate with co-workers, losing interest in a job is a real unfortunate possibility.

So, what can employers do to maintain and maybe even increase engagement in a remote workplace? There are several strategies that are definitely worth trying.

Use Technology to Stay in Touch

The rise in remote work has inspired the development of new communication tools. Make full use of what modern technology has to offer to stay connected to your team.

Software like Asana, Zoom, GoToMeeting and others aim to make online communication easy and efficient. You can set up team chat rooms, exchange updates, leave notes for each other, and do so more. It’s also a good idea to schedule regular video conferences or at least quick video brainstorming sessions. These can help your team feel more connected and help replicate a traditional office environment. Seeing the faces and real-time reactions of colleagues can also be a great way to boost team spirit.

Allocate Time for Social Interaction

Feeling lonely is one of the main challenges of working remotely. A traditional workplace offers lots of space for non-work-related banter. Employees can exchange life updates, ask coworkers for advice, and joke around to lighten the atmosphere. All of these are great ways to release work tension, stay motivated and avoid the feeling of loneliness.

Out-of-work communication gets much more complicated as your workplace goes digital.

To give your team members time for social interactions, set up social hours, casual chat rooms and maybe even invest in a virtual team-building session. It may also be a good idea to work on a mentor system. By “assigning” more experienced workers to new employees, you can help them get adjusted faster and limit the stress caused by a new environment.

Use Digital Tools to Help Your Team Succeed

Helping your team stay organized is the best way to eliminate workplace stress. It is also one of the most efficient ways to boost performance, get rid of delays and ensure a smooth workflow.

Fortunately, there are lots of automated tools that can help organize a digital workplace. These include project management solutions, monitoring software, online to-do lists and more. The best thing is that this doesn’t have to be a big investment. A quick online search will reveal great options for free time tracking software, project collaboration programs, communication tools, and more. Plus, a lot of paid programs offer free trials that you can use to see if the app is a good fit for your team.

Leverage Employed Feedback

Let your team know what action you are about to take and allocate time to gear them out. Team feedback can be crucial when it comes to building a comfortable and efficient online work space. First, it can help you get valuable insights on how projects are handled internally and what challenges your team is dealing with. Second, it will let your team know that you value their opinions and take their feedback into account.

Keep Your Team Informed

It’s important to keep your coworkers updated on what’s happening in the company. This is not only related to ongoing projects but also more general company events. In a physical workplace, employees would typically get this news by word of mouth and chats by the water cooler. A digital workplace, on the other hand, makes staying in the know more difficult. This can result in employees becoming disinterested in the company and corporate goals.

It can also lead to rumors and misinformation that can negatively affect team spirit. Keep your team in the know about company news, events, successes and challenges via email, chats, video calls, etc. It is also a good idea to set up discussion groups to discuss global business strategies, exchange ideas and development strategies and more. This will offer your team a space to contribute to the big picture and make them feel as part of a well-connected community.

Naturally, this is not an exhaustive list of practices that can help boost engagement. The strategies that you decide to use and success of your initiative will depend on the nature of your business and the specifics of your team.

This is why getting to know your employees is the best place to get started. Taking the time to understand the people you work with, their professional and personal goals can help you pick the right tools to keep them focused, engaged and happy at work.