The New Normal: How to Engage Remote Employees in 10 Steps

By September 12, 2022Corporate MC, Post
How To Engage Remote Employees

Grab your standing desk, ring light, and miniature treadmill!

It’s time to talk about remote employees. How can we keep them engaged without being in the office?

Here are my top 10 tips for keeping remote employees engaged:

See Related: Top 5 Reasons Why Rapport Should Be At The Top Of Your Priority List

#1: Care for Everyone’s Mental and Physical Health

If you want to engage remote employees, you must care about their well-being. Their ability to take care of themselves impacts virtual workers’ performance at work.

Offer access to virtual meditation and fitness classes

To increase productivity during the workday, consider giving your remote workforce these perks. Let them take a break to meditate or get a good sweat on before the day begins.

You will see employee engagement skyrocket!

This will also help you engage remote teams because they can share their experiences. Maybe some join the same virtual running club. Others practice yoga over Zoom together in the mornings.

Person in white blouse sits down and uses tablet with stylus#2: Boost Employee Morale with Fun Activities

Just because everyone isn’t in an office, doesn’t mean you can’t engage your remote employees!

Building a company culture that includes social events is key to worker bonding.

Engage remote workers with virtual activities like these:

  • Jeopardy! themed around the employees and the work you do;
  • Team lunches, paid for by the company with Doordash gift certificates;
  • Trivia hours with exciting prizes sent to the winners’ homes;
  • Virtual movie screenings (with at-home popcorn delivery);
  • Virtual escape rooms or mystery games!

These events increase remote employee engagement by getting everyone together and interacting. And if you feel out of your depth with these activities, simply hire an emcee to help you get the party started!

Remote employee in blue striped button down smiles while sitting at computer#3: Make the Most of Time Together and Host Virtual Meetings

Everyone needs ample time for independent work.

But it’s equally important to get together! Brainstorming, strategizing, planning logistics – all of it is easier when you can have a real conversation.

These days, web conferencing technology is quite advanced. And after the past few years, so many people know how to use it. Zoom, Skype, FaceTime – there are so many possibilities.

Bring the office environment to the virtual stage by using video conferencing for team meetings.

However, don’t require video cameras to be on all day. This can lead to “Zoom fatigue,” or employees tiring of being camera-ready all day.

Person sits on gray couch and stretches while laptop sits in their lapInstead, choose select video meetings to have regularly.

This way, remote workers can be prepared for them. Keep remote workers engaged during these calls by including icebreakers, or casual questions to get the meeting started.

Here are a few of my favorite icebreakers:

  • What is a movie you can watch over and over again and never get tired of?
  • What is the best concert you have ever been to? The first concert?
  • If you could study a subject you’ve never learned, what would it be?
  • Would you rather be able to speak every language fluently or play every instrument perfectly?
  • Who is a person that inspires you?
  • What would your dream vacation be?

Start video calls with an icebreaker, then move into the agenda. Remember, keep the video chat productive to avoid camera burnout.

Employee engagement will be highest when workers are not overstimulated.

Person in green blazer sits at table and participates in video conference with employees#4: Welcome New Remote Employees

It can be challenging to start a new job with a fully remote workforce.

In addition to training new hires on their responsibilities, introduce them to the company culture.

Try these ideas to engage remote employees who are new hires:

  • Schedule virtual sit-downs for them with as many members of the employees as possible;
  • Have a virtual welcome brunch or lunch with their new department;
  • Send them a handwritten note at home saying how happy you are to have them on the team;
  • Mail them a welcome gift with company swag!

Doing fully remote work can have its challenges, especially when it comes to socialization. Ensure that your remote employee engagement tends to people’s innate need for connection and belonging.

(Hint: a corporate emcee can really help out in this area!)

Person sits crossed legged on green couch and smiles at laptop screen#5: Gauge Employee Satisfaction

Working remotely, your schedule is probably full of meetings. However, it is still vital to make time for collecting team members’ input.

If you want excellent employees around for the long haul, you’ll need to listen to their feedback. I recommend sending quarterly “temperature checks” to engage your remote employees.

Person lies on the floor at home and works on their laptop in a sunny roomWhat is a temperature check?

A temperature check is basically a survey that gauges how remote workers feel. About what? Anything and everything!

  • Their workload and how manageable (or not) it is;
  • Their supervisors and how effective (or not) they are;
  • Their expectations and whether (or not) they are being met;
  • Their own successes and points for improvement.

These surveys are not only a great method for remote employee engagement. They also give you deeper insights into the challenges your employees face doing remote work.

Maybe the whole team feels that there are too many meetings. Or they want to bring up that more and more companies are moving to a four-day work week.

Whatever it is, you won’t know unless you ask.

Person in black blazer sits at wooden desk in front of a laptop and puts pen to paper#6: Celebrate Employee Accomplishments

Many industries have special ways of practicing employee recognition.

  • Some honor an Employee of the Month;
  • Others award bonuses;
  • Still others host yearly award ceremonies around the holidays, giving out high school superlative-style honors.

That being said, remote employee recognition can prove a little more challenging.

You can’t gather everyone in the break room for a celebratory cake. You can’t present remote workers with a plaque and a bottle of sparkling cider.

Group of employees connect over video conferenceBut there are still many ways to celebrate your remote team members’ accomplishments!

  • Send a company-wide Slack message when someone closes an exciting deal;
  • Create a virtual space for employees to give each other shout-outs for great work;
  • Award bonuses to deserving employees (pay is the universally desired reward, whether you are in office or doing remote work!).
  • Dedicate five minutes at the start of every staff-wide meeting to celebrating wins. Ask everyone to send wins to you before the meeting. That way, no one needs to be put on the spot.

Remote working can be a bit isolating. By building an environment that celebrates achievements, you also bolster a culture of employee engagement.

Person in gray button down sits at wooden table and works on tablet with stylus as coffee sits in front of themBonus: How to Become an Event Manager in 5 Steps

#7: Use Modes of Informal Communication

Digital communication is a great way to help your virtual team stay connected and engaged.

Add each remote team member to an instant messaging software like Slack.

  • This service (and others like it) serve as a home for shared communication channels.
  • You can create conversation threads by department, for all employees, or just for a few individuals.
    • The marketing team might have one, or the volunteer cohort. You get the idea.

This is a great way to advance employee engagement for remote workers.

It helps everyone stay in faster communication, yes. But it also offers a more casual method of communication while working remotely.

Instead of writing a formal email, those who do remote work can send a quick chat.

It is approachable and invites quicker, lighter conversation among colleagues. You can even create conversations or channels for “random” content, like book recommendations or cute dog pictures!

Person in blue top and gray pants smiles and sits on floor in front of couch with laptop#8: Track Team Progress

Remote work is an excellent opportunity to strengthen employees’ autonomy. A remote staff must be disciplined enough to complete their tasks despite the distractions of home life.

That being said, you need to watch out for communication gaps.

With all communication happening digitally, things can slip through the cracks.

Strengthen your employee engagement by meeting with remote workers to discuss their progress.

Check on their upcoming deadlines and ask if they need any support. Ask them if communication could be improved in any way.

Employees will appreciate the attention and feel confident moving forward with their projects.

Person in white button down sits at desk and types on computer#9: Offer Career Growth Opportunities

One of the most effective ways to keep remote employees engaged is through professional development.

Company leaders must take the initiative to invest in their remote workers.

Create opportunities for employee engagement through professional development by:

  • Polling the employees to see what workshops they are interested in. Then, book them! Leadership, organization, networking – there is so much people want to learn about. Just get on the same page as your employees.
  • Pay for employees to attend conferences that address their fields. Virtual or in-person, both are exciting opportunities.
  • When openings arise, think about who internally could be a great fit. You will keep someone with institutional knowledge in the mix while helping them grow.

For so many companies, remote work opens even more chances for career growth. Networking is no longer limited to people within driving distance.

The possibilities are endless!

Person in floral button down sits at a station and works on their laptop#10: Encourage Mindful Breaks and Work-Life Balance

Self-care is not just a buzzword on social media. It is truly important and will help keep remote employees engaged.

Impress upon your remote workforce the importance of breaks and time off.

Remote teams can have a harder time creating boundaries because “work” and “home” are the same place.

It is up to you to ensure that they have a better work-life balance.

Encourage your remote team to:

  • Turn their work notifications off when the day is done;
  • Set away messages on their email accounts;
  • Use their vacation days – there is never a perfectly convenient time to take a vacation, so just use it;
  • Adjust their work schedules to allow time for other aspects of their lives (I.e. parenting obligations, exercise, appointments, etc.).
  • Invite a professional emcee to entertain the office for a fun break and bonding activity!

Person in denim button down and glasses talks on phone and works on laptop at a restaurantTime to Review!

You’ve made it! Let’s take a moment to review my top 10 tips for engaging remote employees:

#1: Care for everyone’s mental and physical health.

#2: Boost employee morale with fun activities.

#3: Make the most of virtual meetings.

#4: Welcome new remote employees.

#5: Gauge employee satisfaction.

#6: Celebrate employee accomplishments.

#7: Use modes of informal communication.

#8: Track team progress.

#9: Offer career growth opportunities.

#10: Encourage breaks and work-life balance.

Good luck!

Keep Reading: 10 Ways to Become a Time Management Pro

Adam Christing has been called “The Tom Brady of emcees.” He has hosted more than 1,000 company meetingsspecial eventsgala celebrations, and more. He is the author of several books and founder of CleanComedians.com. For more event tips, follow Adam Christing on InstagramFacebookPinterestLinkedIn, and YouTube.