More people than ever are working from home these days. As more states move towards "shelter in place" orders because of COVID-19 concerns, this number is likely to increase this week. For businesses that don't normally support a lot of remote workers, this will provide a challenge.
How can you create a culture of engagement and open communication when workers are in isolation?
We reached out to several professionals with years of remote working experience to gather together their best ideas for keeping remote teams happy and in-tune with each other by having some fun.
Remote Worker Loneliness Must Be Managed
When Gallup asked 1,900 remote workers around the world last year what their biggest struggle was, 21% said loneliness. No manager wants to hear that roughly one-fifth of their workforce doesn't feel as engaged and connected as they could be.
When employee engagement is high, both productivity and retention numbers improve. Great managers understand that their employee's emotional health has a direct connection to their efficiency. And the good news is, following this expert advice on keeping remote teams happy is low-cost and easy to implement. Let's take a look at some tried and true methods below.
Invite the Pets to Participate
Keeping your dog, cat, or goldfish nearby is a good idea when working from home. At PTG, we recently had a Teams thread where everyone shared a pic of their animal assistants.
Kendra Lee, President of KLA Group, a virtual organization has this practical advice about keeping dogs in the home work space. "Get a bark collar for your dog, so it can stay nearby, but not make noise."
Share Images of the Home Office
According to Lee, you should "have a separate space for work. Whether it’s a home office, the garage, a large closet or a corner of your dining room, mark off a space that’s work-only. It will help you stay in a productive mindset."
Once everyone has their space defined, encourage them to give their coworkers a tour by sharing photos or a short video of their setup.
Nolan Silvius, Marketing Communications Specialist for Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices C. Dan Joyner Realtors in Greenville, says "I know of companies doing company wide email chains where everyone shares a selfie of their home office. It can be interesting to see how people improvise and get creative!"
Other fun things to share:
1. Music playlists.
2. YouTube channels.
3. Funny GIFs and Memes (have a designated channel for these, so they don't take over the work feed).
4. Lunch recipes.
Do Something Together
One important thing to strive for is to make workers feel like they are together--even when they aren't in the same physical space.
Laura MacPherson, B2B SaaS Freelance Content Strategist, Brand Strategist, and Copywriter says, "One thing I've seen working really well is to do a live activity together via Zoom or Teams — like a live mid-day walk, meditation session, or yoga session."
And if the idea of group yoga is a no-go at your company, many remote teams are hosting virtual happy hours.
Take Rewards Off-line
While It's important to remember to praise coworkers on Slack or Teams, Mike Kendrick, a promotional product specialist suggests shipping remote workers "employee survival bags" filled with chocolates, energy drinks, T-shirts and rally towels that also work well for cleaning up. "Right now, it’s the little things that will make your staff know you’re thinking of them," he says.
Encourage Video Chats As Much As Possible
Video is more engaging than a regular call. When video conferencing “the entire feel and etiquette of the meeting changes,” says Srini Koushik, CTO for Magellan Health in a Forbes article "5 Reasons Why Your Company Needs to Embrace Video Conferencing Now."
Leveraging today's cloud-based video technology, teams can remove the sense of distance and experience effective real-time collaboration.
Working from home can be every bit as productive and effective as being in the office, it just takes the right attitude, communication and sometimes a bit of extra effort to keep the team aligned.
Do you have more working from home team-building ideas? Share them in the comments!
PTG is an IT support and managed services provider in Greenville, South Carolina. We leverage technology to bring your business value and help people work better from anywhere. If your business is scrambling to provide a remote work solution during COVID-19, contact us today.