Share

12 unique ideas to boost remote employee engagement

Looking for remote employee engagement strategies that take your company culture to the next level? Here are our best tips to engage virtual teams.

Share

Looking for remote employee engagement strategies that take your company culture to the next level? Here are our best tips to engage virtual teams.

Consultants, freelancers, frontline workers, and full-time staff across time zones – they all have one thing in common. And that thing is – no points for guessing – remote work. They’re ‘WFH’ or at a client site. 

It’s no secret that remote work offers many benefits to both employees and employers. Employers get access to a global talent pool, and employees get the freedom to work from a convenient location.  

No wonder remote employees are happier than office-based workers. A recent PwC study found that only 8% of remote workers want to work from their employer’s office. On top of that, 83% of employers and 71% of employees view the shift to remote work as a success.

graphic showing 83% of employers and 71% of employees view shift to remote work as a success

But remote work isn’t all a bed of roses. It has its own challenges, one of which is to engage remote employees. You want to ensure that your employees are dedicated and emotionally invested in your company. 

This is easier said than done, since remote teams are physically distant from the company’s main hub of activity. More often than not, they miss out on social events such as birthdays, small talks, and team lunches. Without these opportunities, remote employees can lose their sense of belonging and feel like something is amiss. The result?

Widespread disengagement. 

Now as a senior leader in your organization, you can’t afford to let that happen, can you? So in this post, we’ll show you several effective strategies you can use to boost remote employee engagement.

Engaging remote employees 101

Employee engagement: remote working challenges

When looking to engage remote workers and combat this issue, senior leaders must turn to innovative strategies for boosting engagement in the virtual world such as creating meaningful connections through various channels and gathering feedback consistently – something not always possible using traditional methods such as notice boards, phone notifications, and emails due to low reach and effectiveness.

Common blockers to engagement in remote employees include:

  • Loss of information due to a mix of channels
  • Noticeboards, letters, and other tools are inefficient
  • Low reach and effectiveness
  • No clear way or consistent way to gather feedback.

Why engage remote employees?

While employee engagement may feel like something that doesn’t need to be a business priority, it can actually help to improve both employee morale and productivity. And in today’s competitive landscape, these two things are key to success.

In fact, research shows that highly engaged organizations achieve a 23% improvement in profitability, 10% higher customer ratings and 18% higher sales.

In fact, there are a number of reasons why it’s important to engage remote employees:

  • Increased job satisfaction and employee retention
  • Improved collaboration between teams
  • Better productivity, thanks to improved communication and feedback loops
  • Boosted innovation as a result of cross-functional initiatives
  • Easier onboarding due to increased visibility into the culture and processes.

So, how can you keep remote employees engaged? Let’s take a look at some of the most effective employee engagement ideas for boosting engagement amongst your remote workers and direct reports.

12 practical tips to engage remote workers 

Keeping remote workers engaged should be one of your top priorities. Communication gaps in remote teams lead to disengagement, damaging productivity and morale in the long run. Failure to get your remote employees to work inclusively can also hurt your business’s bottom line.  

In contrast, employees who feel engaged are more loyal and motivated. Not to mention 87% less likely to leave their company than unengaged employees. Follow the below best practices to engage remote teams. 

1. Keep remote meetings as short as possible. 

Remote workers attend more meetings every week as compared to on-site employees. The 2019 State of Remote Work found that 14% of remote employees are giving time to over 10 meetings per week (vs. just 3% of those on-site).

data showing remote workers are attending more meetings

While there’s no denying that team meetings are necessary and beneficial to keep employees aligned, too long and frequent meetings can be frustrating. So much so that this phenomenon has led to the coining of a new term – Zoom Fatigue.

Call a meeting only when it’s absolutely necessary, and try to keep it as short as possible. Have a clear agenda before every meeting and don’t let a team member prolong it with discussions outside of this agenda. 

Another way to reduce the frequency of your Zoom meetings is to provide instant, accessible company updates directly to your workers’ phones. Short, important messages can be delivered via an employee app to minimize wasted time on pointless meetings, which can help both remote and deskless teams stay in-the-know without eating up too much of their valuable time.

2. Make ‘social’ events structured. 

Since remote workers don’t have impromptu opportunities to connect with each other, providing those opportunities intentionally is crucial. And a great way to get started is hosting virtual social events that are not related to work. 

The social event could be a cocktail-making class, a virtual concert, or a biweekly trivia game. 

But here’s the biggest mistake with company-wide social activities — not structuring them. When you host a social event in a way that the talkers keep talking and the quieter ones stay quiet, it’s safe to say that the event has failed its objective.  

So make sure to have rules that encourage everyone to participate. For example, a cocktail-making class with a kit will get more engagement from everyone than a simple virtual drinks session. 

3. Host informal virtual all-hands. 

A transparent culture fosters trust throughout an organization. And since remote teams are physically disconnected from the workplace, they need even more transparency. 

Image via ekoapp.

To facilitate the same, you can conduct virtual all-hands from time to time. This event will encourage remote workers to showcase their projects across the company. 

The project could be a product update, a new marketing campaign, or a transition to a new business partner. A different team will demonstrate what they are working on each week, ensuring that everyone’s in the loop. Plus, the workers can ask questions and share their thoughts with the presenting team, igniting a sense of inclusiveness. 

We get it. Putting your work in front of the entire organization may not be easy. But this little discomfort is a small price to pay for virtual employee engagement, and a warm, better-connected workplace. 

4. Say goodbye to email. 

Email has its place for simple communication. But it’s not suitable for a lot of quick, back and forth conversations. Your organization should have a dedicated tool in place for real-time instant messaging (also known as live chat). 

An employee chat app allows you to facilitate flexible, informal communication that helps remote workers build relationships and get the information they need to do their jobs, wherever they are based. So whether you have remote teams, frontline employees or in-office workers, you can keep your staff connected and engaged.

Blink, for example, offers a world-class chat feature to bring your company together with groups and one-to-one chats. And it lets your employees share not just text, but also photos, documents, videos, spreadsheets, PDFs, and more without the hassle of email. 


Frontline Employee Engagement in 2023

After working with hundreds of frontline organizations, Blink has created this guide to help leaders prepare for a year that promises both challenge and opportunity.

Download to learn: The top 8 frontline engagement trends to watch out for and the 6 key strategies for success


5. Create a remote working resources library. 

49% of US workers face difficulty in finding documents, as per a Nintex survey. If employees can’t access crucial information at the right time, you can’t blame them for getting disengaged. While this is a key problem for remote workers, this issue is currently plaguing the frontline workforce, too. With workers constantly on the move, they need intuitive, easy-to-access resources that can move with them.

The solution is easy. All of your company’s key information should be saved and accessible from a central hub. This information would include your policies, process manuals, onboarding checklists, and other materials. 

The ability to publish content on this portal will not be limited to senior management or the IT department. Every department should be able to access, publish, and share knowledge through this hub.  

Sharing their knowledge will help employees feel empowered and realize the value they are adding to the organization. 

So by building such a knowledge base, you’ll be able to reduce silos between in-office, remote and deskless departments, improve information sharing, and improve collaboration

For example, with Hub as a central feature of Blink, remote workers can instantly access policies, procedures, and guides in a single convenient location — leading to a more engaged remote workforce.

On top of that, our built-in text editor gives every employee an effortless way to create, edit, and distribute articles.

6. Make all org-wide updates digital. 

Nearly 20% of remote workers feel disconnected from peers due to a lack of communication.

While communication is the key to better remote employee engagement, any type of communication will not solve the problem. It has to have the right channels and the right frequency. 

You can’t constantly bombard remote employees with emails, notice board announcements, unnecessary meetings, and expect them to stay engaged. 

The best way to conduct effective company-wide communication is to use a single, unobtrusive, digital communication tool. This will help establish expectations and norms without isolating or overwhelming remote workers. 

Even if you’re worried about whether key information is reaching your workers, sharing the information repeatedly using multiple channels isn’t the solution. Using the right technology is. 

For instance, you can use an employee app that allows you to ‘pin’ information to the top of people’s newsfeed, or has a ‘mandatory read’ option as Blink does. 

Blink has a priority post feature to make important posts a priority read.

7. Record all (important) meetings.

When you have multiple remote team members across different time zones, web conferencing can go a long way in reducing geographic limitations and engaging workers virtually. 

But even a virtual meeting can’t solve all your problems. Employees can’t attend multiple meetings at the same time, for example. Getting the right folks together for a meeting can still prove to be a bottleneck for a project. 

With an increasingly varied workforce seeing a mixture of remote, in-office and frontline workers, the battle to keep everybody on the same page is on.

So a better solution is to conduct a meeting with the people who can attend, and record it for those who couldn’t. Then keep all these recordings in one place for anyone interested in catching up. 

Recording video of virtual meetings ensures that no one misses out on an important discussion, along with the visuals presented during the session.

8. Use polls and feed posts. 

Most company-wide communication is static, which means that workers simply consume the content by reading, listening, or watching.  

The opposite of that is interactive content. It’s a type of content that allows employees to engage and participate. 

Using interactive communication from time to time is another step you can take towards remote employee engagement by helping reduce the sense of isolation.

The interactive content could be as simple as a quick poll, a short employee survey, or social media type posts that allow workers to like, comment, and tag their team members. Luckily, all these features are an integral part of Blink.

9. Celebrate employee accomplishments. 

Employee Recognition can be implemented in many ways, but remote work makes it hard to carry them out. That’s why you need to put in the extra effort to celebrate contributions and achievements.  

An employee recognition program can increase remote employee engagement, productivity, and performance by 14%, according to Deloitte.

Here are some great ways to acknowledge and appreciate remote workers for their hard work:

  • Giving regular greetings and check-ins on shared communication channels
  • Conducting employee of the month programs
  • Thanking workers during a web conferencing session 
  • Acknowledging personal events such as birthdays and anniversaries
  • Sending thoughtful notes or signed cards from managers and peers

All these activities help remote employee engagement by making workers feel valued. And contributing to everyone’s understanding of what’s happening in different teams and departments.

10. Understand feedback to make improvements. 

Most remote employees are hesitant to share feedback, because they’re worried about how it might be perceived. That’s why you need to invest in technology that will make it easier for your workers to share their thoughts, feelings, and opinions in a safe environment. 

Digital tools like Blink offer anonymous feedback surveys, which help employees share their thoughts and ideas without fear of judgment. You can use this feedback to modify processes and policies to ensure everyone is engaged and motivated. And this means productive employees.

By understanding the feedback, you’ll be able to make necessary improvements in areas like communication, collaboration, productivity, etc. By showing your virtual team that you value their input, you’ll be able to create a culture of engagement, trust and collaboration, fostering more engagement in future initiatives.

11. Make sure everyone is included in the conversation. 

Ensuring that everyone is included in the conversation is an important part of remote employee engagement. Since your workers don’t have the option to physically join meetings and work on projects, they can easily feel left out or ignored.

To make sure no one is ever excluded from a discussion, use tools like Blink which come with features like audio-video conferencing, screen sharing and file/group chats.

These features allow your workers to interact with one another in a more meaningful way, making them feel included even when they’re not physically present. Employers should also take part in the conversation regularly, so that employees can understand their objectives and goals better as a team.

12. Provide ample opportunities for team members to network and connect remotely. 

When you’re working remotely or on the frontline, it’s easy to feel disconnected from your colleagues and the business in general. So it’s important that employers create the opportunity for employees to network with their peers – without the scrutiny of management’s presence.

Network building activities like virtual happy hours, ice breaker games and mini-conferences can help boost relationships between team members. Employee Resource Groups are also a great way to help the business towards ESG goals while fostering a safe place for under-represented employee groups. 

These activities will help your workers build relationships, foster trust, and empower the team to work better together, even when they’re not in the same physical space.

A quick summary of best practices for remote employee engagement…

  1. Keep remote meetings as short as possible. 
  2. Make ‘social’ events structured. 
  3. Host informal virtual all-hands. 
  4. Say goodbye to email.
  5. Create a remote working resources library. 
  6. Make all org-wide updates digital.
  7. Record all (important) meetings.
  8. Use polls and feed posts.
  9. Celebrate employee accomplishments.

Final thoughts

If you look at the above strategies carefully, you’ll realize that they all boil down to one simple thing — trying to give remote workers the same communication opportunities they would have had if they were working from an office. 

Remote or office-based – the best way to engage remote employees is by giving them a voice. After all, 46% of remote workers believe the best managers are the ones who check in – really frequently. 

Making time for employees’ thoughts and concerns, whether through informal small talk or structured feedback, is the golden thread that separates a good organization from a great one.

As long as you keep this basic principle in mind, you’ll not just find it easy to implement these remote employee engagement tactics, but also to generate your own ideas to engage remote workers. 

So, give them the opportunity to voice their needs without the added concern of reaching out at an inopportune moment, and see your remote employee engagement levels rise at a steady rate. 

And while you’re at it, remember that the right technology can make a world of difference. Blink is an internal communications tool that does everything your intranet does, but better. 

Request a free demo to get started.

Remote Employee Engagement FAQs

How do you engage employees when working remotely?

You can engage employees working remotely in a number of ways, the important thing is to keep trying different things. The 9 ideas listed here should help you, some other ideas include:
1. If feasible, have face-to-face meetings every so often
2. Suprise them with employee snack boxes delivered to their homes
3. Host game nights and virtual pub quizzes.
4. Don’t stop experimenting with ideas!

How does remote work affect employee engagement?

Remote work can affect employee engagement in a number of ways. Each employee will be unique in how remote work affects them but one of the most important things to maintain is a healthy work life balance. It can be difficult for some to compartmentalize their personal and professional lives, leading to a deterioration in work-life balance. This ultimately will decrease employee engagement.

Why is remote employee engagement important?

Remote employee engagement is important because those who work from home or in a different country are immediately less connected to the overall team, you need to ensure that they feel connected. You still need to build a good culture for all employees no matter where they are based.

Final thoughts: best practice for remote employee engagement

If you look at the above strategies carefully, you’ll realize that they all boil down to one simple thing — trying to give remote workers the same communication opportunities they would have had if they were working from an office. 

Remote or office-based – the best way to engage remote employees is by giving them a voice. After all, 46% of remote workers believe the best managers are the ones who check in – really frequently. 

Making time for employees’ thoughts and concerns, whether through informal small talk or structured feedback, is the golden thread that separates a good organization from a great one.

As long as you keep this basic principle in mind, you’ll not just find it easy to implement these remote employee engagement tactics, but also to generate your own ideas to engage remote workers. 

So, give them the opportunity to voice their needs without the added concern of reaching out at an inopportune moment, and see your remote employee engagement levels rise at a steady rate. 

And while you’re at it, remember that the right technology can make a world of difference. Blink is an internal communications tool that does everything your intranet does, but better. Request a free demo to get started.