Updated: Apr 25, 2022
We are years out from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and the workplace, as we’ve always known it has drastically changed. As a result, employers across the country have had to rethink how they manage teams and engage remote employees because of the rapid shift to remote workers and hybrid work.
As part of a full-time return to office plan, company leaders believe that employees and teams will see greater productivity and the company's culture will remain intact. As a means to achieving these business goals, the executive leadership is tying the business success to a shift from remote and hybrid workforces to having employees work full time in offices. Some employees are, however, resentful of this full-time office arrangement. They are challenging their current employers to keep a hybrid work environment, and if they refuse, they are finding new job opportunities with companies that provide more flexible schedules.
It's clear that working remotely and having a remote workforce isn't going anywhere. As a result, it is even more crucial for business leaders to focus on developing employee engagement programs with creative and unique ideas that will encourage positive company culture and help to keep remote employees engaged with their teams and their organizations.
Since well before the pandemic, Accendi Group consultants have been consulting on change management, managing remote workers, virtual meetings, and events. In this article, we'll discuss creative ways for organizations to engage a hybrid remote workforce while maintaining their company culture and increasing the engagement of hybrid work teams.
In this article, one of our consultants, Antoinette Jones shares her top tips for connecting remote teams through creative and interactive virtual events.
Employee Stress and Organizational Change
With more and more disasters and national emergencies increasing, the business case for remote work is top of mind for many organizations seeking to reduce employee workplace stress and the increased uncertainties of life. To address these issues, employers are increasing flexible work arrangements as well as creating positive work environments that can boost employee happiness, which has been shown to positively impact work performance.
In addition to remote work, burnout rates and turnover have increased over the past two years, and 79% of 1,500 U.S. adult workers surveyed reported experiencing work-related stress in the previous month, according to a report from the American Psychological Association published in 2021. Additionally, many of these workers reported that, because of this stress, they felt tired, unmotivated, and uninterested in work.
While the threats of fatigue and raised turnover are definitely worrying for companies, a number of them likewise understand just how essential it is to offer the flexibility of working remotely. Most organizations that have a formal remote work program in place use it as a strategy to attract and retain high-quality employees.
A company's success depends in part on employee satisfaction, and those that are successful understand it is a two-way street. To keep existing employees and to attract, engage and hire high-quality talent throughout the recruiting process, formal workforce programs will help keep remote workers engaged and connected in their daily activities, whether they are individuals or members of a remote team.
It is important for remote workers to keep their productivity level or even increase it when they are away from the office. The recent years have seen companies identifying and implementing software to ensure that remote employees can perform at the same level as they would in the office.
Although there can be nothing better than being able to talk in a cubicle, meet at the break room, or pop into someone's office, there are plenty of software solutions now available to help empower remote employees, increase productivity, reduce risks and spark healthy work habits. Listed below are some useful tools for meetings/chats, employee collaboration, employee recognition, and employee communications.
A platform that allows employees to collaborate with their team and organize their projects is one way that remote work software is changing the workplace.
On this type of software, there will be specific features that help keep your employees focused working in virtual teams on their tasks outside of the office environment and off of the distractions that may exist while working. All employees, including those working remotely, will have access to important documents and information, and they can choose which tasks they want to complete next. Having this in place will help everyone stay productive in team meetings and even at home.
For example, platforms that measure remote employee engagement use data about how employees interact in chats, as well as how long they spend on the platform, for example, in team meetings.
One of the most important factors in boosting productivity is recognizing employees. When you give your employees recognition and praise, whether they are in the office or performing remote work, they are more likely to be productive.
Giving your employees recognition is one of the easiest ways to increase their productivity. Recognition builds trust and satisfaction among workers, which leads to higher levels of engagement and output. Interestingly, according to Tower Watson's Employee Engagement Research team, even small gestures such as handwritten notes result in a 10% increase in motivation!
Employee recognition is also enhanced by remote work software, such as rewards programs that allow employees to earn points for completing tasks and redeem them for rewards and discounts.
Productive employees can also be brought into an employee focus group to generate employee engagement ideas the company can develop. Engaging all of your employees to help create new programs and practices for a more positive employee experience is not just about engaging remote employees, it is also about involving onsite employees.
One of the biggest issues, when remote work is implemented, is the perception of decreased productivity among remote workers. But one way to combat this is by implementing team meetings.
Having an effective team meeting ensures alignment on the topics of discussion, opens the floor to discussion about any obstacles or concerns, and provides clarity on next steps. These meetings should be scheduled regularly, at least once per week, and they should last no longer than 30 minutes for brief agenda items or no more than 60 minutes to keep the atmosphere energized and each team member involved.
In addition to the meeting time, it should be noted that all remote team members will have the option to attend remotely from either a web-based program or through video conferencing/video calls. This can help increase productivity as a virtual team and employees will feel more connected to their colleagues and work projects, which allows the employees to meet one on one, through instant messaging, or in a virtual team.
Chat programs, like Slack, are one way to help your remote employees stay connected without actually being in the office. Using this software, teams can collaborate from anywhere, regardless of time or place.
In addition, if someone wants to share something they forgot during the meeting or if their coworker has a quick question about their project, they can use chat programs at any time. In addition, because someone is always on call and available to answer questions (even when employees are away), this increases employee productivity.
Digital Events (Virtual Events)
Digital events can be a great service for firms that want to provide remote flexibility without sacrificing staff member interaction, team-building, or cooperation. Even if the online work environment is a new frontier for your staff, you can still make use of numerous electronic systems and experiences to involve and get in touch with your remote personnel.
Since well before the pandemic, Accendi Group consultants have been managing remote work, virtual meetings, and events. Antoinette Jones, one of our consultants, shares her top tips for engaging remote workers and office staff through creative and interactive online and virtual events.
Tip 1. Select the right time
If you want to host a digital event with your business or team, it's ideal to arrange it for mid-day. After working at their computer systems throughout the day, the last thing most workers want is to stay signed on for an online "event" when the workday ends.
When you're scheduling your event, prep work is crucial. Make certain to include your occasion to everybody's schedules as soon as possible ― this will give guests a possibility to block off their calendars and also plan meetings and calls appropriately.
Finally, keep in mind to be mindful of every person's time. Try to limit your virtual occasion to one hour or much less.
Tip 2. Choose an engaging activity or theme
By now, we have actually most likely all attended a virtual work occasion that really did not have a recognized agenda. While free-flowing meetings have their place, it's a general ideal technique to pick an activity for your digital occasion that will certainly maintain every person entailed.
If employee interaction is your objective, stay clear of choosing tasks that are exaggerated, like digital satisfied hours or coffee breaks. Instead, choose an activity that will certainly thrill or intrigue your team members. For example, we've advised customers on how to host online events like:
Remote Escape Room - Escape Game
Live Hosted Virtual Trivia - Trivvy
Virtual Scavenger Hunt - MS Teams, Google Meet or Zoom
After you've chosen your activity, give it a theme to help participants feel more involved.
This can be achieved, for example, by allowing your team to dress up or by sending a curated snack kit containing a variety of snacks for everyone to eat together. There are so many creative ways to engage your team virtually, so have fun with it!
Tip 3. Select an event host/ambassador
If your company's virtual events are frequently scheduled by the same team or leader, employee participation may dwindle over time. Increased word of mouth, on the other hand, can help you get more RSVPs and increase employee participation.
Choosing a host is one approach to generate more attention for your virtual event. A skilled host will be able to market your event, take charge, and help people connect with your event across the company's many departments.
Any individual within your firm can be a host. It is unnecessary for it to be someone from management. Having a host to emcee your events can raise involvement across your company, considering that coworkers are often supportive of one another.
Make it fun
Employees are most likely to take part in your online events if you include enjoyable, unusual creative aspects that engage and promote connections. This is significant because ongoing participation leads to increased interactions, engagement, and connectivity.
Incentives, like recognition, rewards, bonuses, and health and wellness, for example, are creative ways to increase team and individual participation, as well as strategies to keep remote employees and office personnel engaged.
Pulse surveys provide additional insights into how employees feel and let employees know their voice is being heard. Measuring remote employee engagement should be part of a company's goals in order to match with the company's vision of creating a culture where all employees, regardless of location, sense that their company cares about them and will act.
Virtual events are a great online platform that provides a company opportunities to share an exciting business announcement in a live environment. This allows more employees to participate in the discussion during the event, as well as observe how employees respond in real-time to obtain real-time feedback.
It is human nature to want to connect with others. However, remote workers tend to be loyal and happier employees because working from home lowers stress levels.
Keeping your organization connected is crucial in today's "new normal" at work. Remote work applications are changing the workplace for the better in many ways, so why not try one or more of these technologies out for your organization?
By following these tips, you can meaningfully engage, connect and build trust with your remote teams throughout the year.
Download our remote team checklist and guide to help managers increase team social connections in a remote, virtual or hybrid workplace.
This article was written by Fawn Hentrel, Managing Partner.
Learn more about Accendi Group headquartered in Memphis, TN.