by Angela Martin

March 24, 2020

The current coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis has forced many offices – including ours – to transition to a virtual work from home environment. This can be new territory for many organizations and employees, especially those that are used to working together in person and those who not only enjoy but rely on building relationships through casual office encounters. While I commend employers for instituting and practicing safe and smart social distancing measures, it’s important to remember that your employees will still want to be engaged, celebrated and connected regardless of their office location.

So how do you engage with your newly remote workforce? Here are five ways to make sure remote colleagues still feel connected to each other and the organization:

  1. Encourage managers to hold daily video calls with their teams – either on a group chat or with each person individually.  It’s much easier to feel connected with people when you can physically see them. Being able to see and react to a person’s nonverbal cues is also critically important to conversations with most experts saying 70 to 93 percent of all communication is nonverbal. On a psychological level, engaging with people though video can help decrease feelings of isolation and loneliness that can stem from a sudden move to a remote work environment. If you don’t have a paid video service already, check out free options like FaceTime (for Apple products), Google Hangout Meet or Zoom (basic tier).
  2. Start a company-wide wellness challenge such as a fitness or healthy eating contest. I’m currently doing a 30-day yoga challenge with some friends (here’s the link in case you want to join!), and, in addition to providing me with a sense of routine, it also helps me stay connected with friends during this time of social distancing. For fitness, you can challenge employees to reach a certain number of steps or be active for 30 minutes each day. Healthy eating can encompass drinking the proper amount of water, eating more fruit, or seeing who can (safely) lose the most weight. You can also look into other programs that can help connect people remotely, such as book clubs or recipe shares.
  3. Implement (or enhance) an employee recognition programs. Boost employee morale by recognizing those who are going above and beyond. Transitioning to a work-from-home environment can be draining, and sometimes employees can feel like there’s a lack of visibility when it comes to their work success. Share employee successes with the entire organization or regional network and let employees know you’re still recognizing great work even if it’s taking place off site.
  4. Send a quick check-in survey to all colleagues and get a sense of how employees are feeling during this time of change. Enable them to ask questions, give feedback and voice concerns while helping them feel heard and more connected to the company. Survey results will also allow you to directly identify and address employee concerns.
  5. Maintain and evolve existing organization programs/activities. Rather than cancel or postpone employee activities all together – get creative and think of ways to adjust the experience to fit your newly remote workforce. If you typically get a cake to celebrate office birthdays, pivot and have a dessert delivered to the employee’s home. March Madness is another popular employee activity, and while it may be cancelled this year, you can still look for ways to create your own bracket alternative and engage colleagues. I’ve seen some brackets ranking The Office episodes, fast food chains and Disney movies, but you can also make your own bracket that fits your work environment. Our Dix & Eaton alternative bracket would probably be the best La Croix flavor.

While these tactics are helpful for companies who have implemented remote work policies due to COVID-19, they can also be useful for workplaces whose standard practice is remote work. Employee engagement and company morale is important regardless of your home base!

Do you have other tips to promote employee engagement and boost morale? Send me an email! I’d love to hear more and talk about other possible strategies.