How To Boost Remote Employee Engagement: 9 Ideas You’ll Love

Published on
July 9, 2024
Written by
Karim Parto
Founder of Jaapi
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The remote work revolution is here to stay. The pandemic lockdowns caused radical shifts in work habits, urging employees to question centuries-old corporate norms. And it all happened so quickly. When on earth did the commute shrink to the distance between our beds and laptops?

As visionary leaders ditch rigid norms in favor of flexible work options, it's becoming increasingly clear that happy employees are the cornerstone of continued success.

However, many companies still don’t fully grasp the magic ingredients for successful remote employee engagement.

So, what are the unique challenges and gifts of remote work in 2024? How do we increase employee engagement remotely, ensuring everyone’s fully committed? Keep on reading for the best employee engagement ideas for remote workers that help you build a thriving company culture.

The Unique Challenges of Remote Work

The coronavirus pandemic fueled the worldwide appetite for remote work—a lightning-fast transformation triggered by unprecedented lockdowns. But the health crisis only hurried the inevitable. People's sentiments had been ripening in their hearts for decades: secretly longing for more time away from office cubicles, dreaming of a world where your workplace is wherever you make it.

Studies continue to find that the fulfillment of flexible work options forms a robust psychological basis for employee motivation and engagement. Freed from the daily commute, workers reclaim 72 precious minutes each day on average - moments they repurpose for personal enrichment or professional focus. 

Employees also save considerably on gas and cut greenhouse emissions by up to a whopping 54% per person. Nearly all surveyed employees agree that working from home boosts their overall well-being.

The benefits are likewise clear for companies who give sufficient thought to successful virtual employee engagement. Reduced office presence translates to lower operating costs, while the ability to recruit globally taps into a reservoir of talent previously out of reach. 

However, some challenges need to be addressed. Remote employees often grapple with feelings of isolation, making employee engagement and loyalty harder to foster. Maintaining meaningful connections across virtual environments is crucial for adequate remote employee engagement. Casual encounters that once fostered camaraderie- those spontaneous chats by the water cooler or shared lunches - should now be replaced by powerful virtual alternatives. 

Companies are devising impressive virtual employee engagement ideas to recreate the charm of in-person interactions. But before we discuss them, let’s ensure we understand the ins and outs of remote employee engagement.

Understanding Remote Employee Engagement

Remote employee engagement refers to employees' emotional connection and commitment towards their duties and team despite physical separation from the workplace. 

Successful virtual employee engagement is the heartbeat that fuels motivation and camaraderie, ensuring soulful connections indispensable for sky-high success. It's all about creating a thriving virtual company culture where every voice feels heard and valued.

However, unlike its on-site counterpart, remote employee engagement demands a more nuanced approach that thrives on flexibility and proactive communication. The goal is to prevent physical distance from hindering dedication.

The days when remote employee engagement was the duty of HR alone are long gone. Today, forward-thinking companies recognize that true enthusiasm thrives when it becomes a shared mission. Pondering how to increase employee engagement remotely must be a collective effort involving every team member.

While HR sets the stage with policies and frameworks, managers and colleagues breathe life into engagement strategies with effective daily interactions and strong personal connections. 

The Role of Human Resources in Remote Employee Engagement

Human Resources (HR) is the architect of successful virtual employee engagement ideas, laying the groundwork for remote teams to thrive. Think of the HR professional as the behind-the-scenes mastermind, forging the foundation for an inclusive company culture. From developing robust remote work policies to setting up efficient communication channels, HR keeps the remote work engine nice and strong.

HR professionals must ensure that remote workers feel valued by providing seamless onboarding programs, regular training sessions, and diverse wellness initiatives.  The trick is to balance structure and flexibility, creating an environment that supports employees without compromising company goals. 

HR also needs to stay updated on the best employee engagement ideas and be prepared to adjust policies to better meet the constantly changing needs of remote team employees.

The Role of Managers in Remote Employee Engagement

Managers are instrumental in translating HR policies into everyday practices. Beyond overseeing day-to-day operations, successful managers foster trust by setting clear expectations, defining goals, and offering constructive feedback. Their role is similar to that of a conductor, harmonizing diverse elements of a remote team to foster a sense of unity.

Managers responsible for remote employee engagement should create an environment where open communication thrives daily. They should use diverse collaboration software, productivity tools, chat platforms, and team-building activities to ensure distance doesn’t harm the sense of shared purpose.

Plus, managers should infuse everyday communication with energy and excitement. Great managers know that instead of asking "Tell me what you think” they could say "Let's hear your brilliant ideas!”- a simple phrase change that instantly fosters team spirit. They should also offer routine feedback in equally engaging ways, tailored to each team member's unique personality and strengths.

Rather than offering dry criticism, managers should sprinkle their feedback with encouragement and humor, making it easier for employees to perform at their peak.

Constructive feedback effectively highlights areas for improvement, driving ongoing growth. With it, teams can avoid stagnation and never miss out on valuable opportunities for creative breakthroughs.

The Role of Employees in Remote Engagement

Employee participation is likewise pivotal for successful virtual employee engagement. Co-workers play an essential role in shaping the team's culture and dynamics. 

Employees are the most valuable asset in any company and are at the very heart of the remote engagement challenge. While HR and managers should try to make them feel more connected and involved at work, employees should also contribute to overall engagement. Whether it’s commenting on ongoing engagement strategies, sharing their areas of struggle, or brainstorming on how to improve things in the workplace, employees’ insights are key.

Additionally, employees should advocate for their own well-being. Voicing unique needs will help HR and managers provide the necessary support. When possible, employees should come up with creative virtual employee engagement ideas to ensure they and their team stay engaged.

Effective remote employee engagement relies on a collaborative approach in which HR designs inclusive policies, managers lead by example, and employees actively contribute to a thriving virtual community. 

9 Practical Ideas to Enhance Remote Employee Engagement

Now that we've discussed each team member's pivotal role in keeping the company culture alive, let's explore nine actionable strategies for achieving this. 

1. Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance

In the bustling world of remote work, employees often feel the urge to always be online, demonstrating their tireless work ethic. However, this can lead to burnout and other health-related issues that harm the employee and the company's overall success. 

Managers and leaders should set boundaries and encourage a healthy work-life balance, fostering an environment where business goals and personal fulfillment are in perfect harmony to ensure that remote employee engagement stays high. 

Here are some great tips to help you do just that:

Set Realistic Expectations: Start with setting realistic expectations related to tasks and work hours to ensure everyone’s on the same page. Clear communication and mutual understanding will help employees prioritize tasks without feeling overwhelmed, as they will know what's expected of them.

Set Clear Boundaries: Show employees that boundaries matter, encouraging them to disconnect when needed. An effective strategy is using "focus time" blocks where workers dedicate uninterrupted hours solely to work, followed by guilt-free breaks. Clear boundaries can boost productivity while also respecting personal time. 

Foster Flexibility: Implement flexible work hours, allowing people to align their schedules with peak productivity periods and personal commitments. Allowing team members to set their preferred schedules within agreed-upon core hours will promote autonomy and contribute to the fulfillment of the employees' unique individual needs.

Leverage Wellness Initiatives: Encourage regular breaks, exercise, and wellness activities to boost morale in the team. Promote digital detox days or "no-meeting Fridays" to grant employees time for much-needed rejuvenation.

2. Build Personal Relationships With Remote Employees

Strengthening personal ties with employees is another critical component for building a thriving remote work culture. Traditional top-down administration is more outdated than ever. Today's visionary leaders prioritize empathy, inclusivity, and genuine human connections. Cultivating strong interpersonal relationships has become the recipe for engaged remote employees and business success. 

Here are some great ideas for building personal relationships with remote employees:

Schedule Regular Ice-Breaker Calls: Arrange regular virtual water cooler sessions where team members drop in for a casual chat. Initiate conversations about goals, hobbies, or weekend adventures to humanize the remote experience and foster deeper connections.

Utilize Video Conferencing Tools: Bring the on-site office vibes to the remote employees by organizing face-to-face interactions through video calls. Seeing each other's smiles, gestures, and quirky backgrounds online adds spirit to each interaction. Use platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet for team huddles, project updates, and brainstorming sessions.

Empower Leaders to Connect Better: Host regular brainstorming sessions with team leaders, encouraging them to champion real connections. But the responsibility doesn't stop with leaders. Employees can also contribute to building a warm, engaged, and inclusive virtual community.

3. Recognize and Reward the Accomplishments of Employees

Recognition is essential for engaging remote employees. It shows that employees' efforts are valued and helps fulfill their appreciation and validation needs. This affirmation is fundamental to human psychology, tapping into our innate need for recognition.

Managers should regularly acknowledge accomplishments publicly and privately, celebrating hard work at all times. Here are some great engagement ideas to get you started:

Celebrate Achievements Regularly: Employee encouragement must be more than an occasional pat on the back. Send out inspiring newsletters, publicize team achievements on social media, and host dynamic shout-out channels to celebrate triumphs day on day. Regular celebrations of achievements will help your team stay motivated and aim higher.

Personalize Recognition for Deeper Connections: Great leaders understand the profound impact of personalizing recognitions with thoughtful gestures and gifts. They routinely leverage stellar firms that make celebrating employee achievements simple and rewarding. Jaapi offers a seamless platform for letting employees choose meaningful employee merch that resonates with them. Whether you wish to onboard new team members or mark important milestones, Jaapi helps you take employee recognition to a new level.

Offer Tangible Rewards Tied to Performance: Tangible rewards linked to performance will show that you value employees' hard work. Consider incentives like personalized professional growth opportunities, extra paid time off for achieving milestones, or opportunities to lead high-impact projects. 

Remember, routine acknowledgment of achievements builds a positive feedback loop in the brain, triggering the release of dopamine- our beloved “feel-good” neurotransmitter. This chemical response fosters positive behavior and drive. 

Conversely, when recognition is absent or inconsistent, employees may experience feelings of disengagement or even resentment. This lack can trigger stress responses and feelings of undervaluation, potentially causing higher turnover rates.

4. Involve Remote Employees in Decision Making

Historically, remote employees often felt like pawns in a corporate chess game, always kept in the dark. This exclusion from pivotal decisions left them unmotivated and uninvolved.

Fast forward to today, and the landscape is changing. Companies are awakening to the power of inclusivity, realizing that remote employees aren't just faces on a Zoom call but fountains of innovation waiting to be discovered. 

Effective virtual employee engagement is only possible if workers feel they’re an inherent part of the decision-making process. 

Here is how leaders can nurture an inclusive work culture:

Embrace Collaborative Decision-Making: Host lively town hall meetings and virtual brainstorming sessions where remote rockstars drop game-changing ideas and feedback. 

Champion Unique Insights: Value the unique perspectives of remote workers by actively seeking their input. Use surveys, virtual focus groups, or online suggestion boxes to ensure everyone participates meaningfully. Plus, leverage collaborative platforms and project management software to facilitate real-time communication and idea-sharing.

Encourage Decision-Making: Empower remote employees to make informed decisions within their domains of expertise. By providing clear guidelines and granting autonomy, you’ll cultivate a culture of trust, ownership, and initiative that fuels creativity and drives results.

The harmonious blend of unique and varied voices creates the corporate-culture masterpiece. When employees feel their opinions matter, engagement blossoms, and teams unite with a common goal. 

5. Make Social Events Remote-Friendly

In our digital-first world, the web, while the magic of connection, has subtly nudged us away from face-to-face interaction, leaving us glued to our devices. For all its convenience, remote work often feels like navigating a virtual maze of emojis and muted microphones. 

While in-person interaction still hands down beats its online counterpart for its vigor, there are plenty of ways to leverage social events that are more remote-friendly. Here is how managers can bridge this digital divide:

Host Vibrant Online Gatherings: No employee will feel happy in a dull workplace lacking fun activities. Make the most of remote employee engagement ideas like virtual happy hours buzzing with laughter, team quizzes that spark friendly competition, and online talent shows showcasing hidden talents. Empower employees to suggest and organize similar events to foster a sense of community.

Offer a Mix of Synchronous and Asynchronous Events: Don’t forget to acknowledge remote employees' diverse schedules and preferences by offering various engagement opportunities. Host synchronous events for real-time interaction, such as dynamic online forums for spirited discussions or virtual book clubs where minds converge over literature. For those preferring flexibility, offer asynchronous options like photo challenges that spark creativity and self-expression.

Organize Periodic Physical Get-Togethers: For remote teams yearning for physical presence, it’s also a great idea to organize in-person get-togethers. Whether outdoor games like mini-golf or cooking classes, social events can strengthen bonds like nothing else. Mixing up remote and real-life social activities is often the best strategy for maintaining healthy teams.

Employee enthusiasm and initiative are essential here. After all, what’s the point of social events if everyone turns up poker-faced? Employee enthusiasm is contagious, transforming a potentially lackluster event into a highlight of the team's team-building adventure.

6. Foster a Culture of Giving and Recognition

There is nothing like a feeling of shared purpose to help employees work seamlessly toward success. Building a culture of giving and recognition will help boost employee morale and energize team spirit. HR professionals, managers, and employees must carefully nurture a rich culture together. 

Let’s explore how:

Encourage Acts of Generosity: HR professionals should prepare the ground by implementing initiatives to encourage altruism. The acts can involve organizing volunteer days where employees participate in community service projects or sustainability activities like tree planting. Such initiatives will help foster feelings of shared purpose, especially in light of our rapidly declining planet and persisting inequalities.

Empower peer-to-peer appreciation: Foster a culture where employees recognize each other's efforts. Use a dedicated recognition channel, virtual "shout-out board," or tools like Jaapi to send swag store credits where employees can use the credit to claim the branded swag of their choice. Peer recognition builds camaraderie and reinforces positive behaviors.

Lead by Example: Leaders who foster a rich work culture with their every action motivate employees to do the same. This inspires employees to champion volunteer activities and initiate their own acts of kindness, such as organizing a charity drive or mentoring new hires. 

A work culture rich in giving and recognition is like a well-tended garden: it demands commitment from all involved but yields abundant rewards for successful virtual employee engagement. 

7. Ensure Efficient and Remote-Friendly Communication

Virtual employee engagement ideas should always include powerful strategies for efficient, remote-friendly communication. But how do you ensure effective remote employee engagement with teammates scattered around the globe? 

The goal is to make the most of the platforms available. Here is how:

Centralize Communication for Clarity: To ensure consistency, set up a centralized communication platform to routinely post official updates. Tools like Slack, Monday, Confluence, and Notion are fantastic; they let you easily craft, organize and present important documentation.

 screenshot from a notion page

Adopt A Multi-Channel Approach: Use different communication channels to meet informational needs. The multi-channel approach includes channels such as email for formal communication, instant messaging for quick updates, video recording through Loom for information that otherwise would require a meeting, and project management software for tracking tasks.

Software options like Slack or Microsoft Teams are perfect for seamless chatting, file sharing, and integrating various apps. Need a quick brainstorming session? Just hop on a call and let the ideas fly!

Revitalize Emails with A Personal Touch: Sprinkle email interactions with spirit and fun through engaging newsletters, personalized updates, and even the occasional GIF to lighten the mood.

Making the most of these platforms will help you replicate the on-site vibe and fuel team spirit like nothing else.

8. Implement a Process for Remote Onboarding

Remote onboarding isn't just about paperwork and protocols—it's about crafting a memorable welcome to set the stage for success. The better you welcome new remote employees, the better your chances are of motivating them to contribute meaningfully from day one.

Here are some great ideas for a perfect welcome:

Host Powerful Meet-And-Greets: First, you must effectively introduce new employees to your team and brand ethos. Schedule virtual onboarding sessions that are informative and fun, involving as many team members as possible. The better newcomers grasp the culture, the better they'll perform from the outset.

Go the Extra Mile with Personalized Gifts: Imagine the impact of a welcome kit, but instead of having the same kit for everyone, your employees can choose from various options. Employees have preferences, and if you have employees in geographically different locations, you will quickly notice that beanies are not as popular in Mexico as in Canada. Jaapi makes this process seamless by allowing employees to pick their own merch, allowing you to never send a bad gift ever again. It's a great way to show exemplary appreciation to newbies!

The tangible nature of gifts and the effort put into personalizing them communicate a message of care and attention to detail, reinforcing positive perceptions from the very start.

Assign Remote Onboarding Buddies: Create a buddy system matching each new hire with a more experienced team member. The buddy system will help new employees navigate their new roles and form instant friendships.

Remember, you’ll never get a chance to make a first impression, so make it count. 

9. Set Clear Performance Expectations

Clarity breeds confidence, especially in remote work environments. Without clear objectives, there is a higher risk of misalignment, where team members interpret tasks differently or prioritize conflicting goals. This ambiguity can lead to frustration and lack of focus. 

Here is how leaders can mitigate these risks and ensure effective remote employee engagement:

Set Clear-Cut Expectations: You must ensure everyone understands their role in the grand scheme. Employees can prioritize and plan better when they know what’s expected. Outline crystal-clear performance metrics. Clear objectives serve as guiding stars, providing individuals with a sense of purpose and direction. They boost drive and focus, transforming abstract notions into concrete steps toward success. 

Schedule Regular Check-Ins: Organize regular check-ins to scrutinize goals and offer feedback, ensuring alignment with evolving priorities. Make sure to leverage open communication channels so employees can ask for clarification and discuss ideas. Maintaining ongoing dialogue will help address challenges promptly and keep remote teams focused.

Prioritize Transparency and Accountability: Use project management software like Asana or Trello to outline tasks and deadlines clearly. The right tool will boost transparency and responsibility, allowing team members to track progress and collaborate on shared projects.

The Benefits Of Engaging Remote Employees

We have discussed numerous employee engagement ideas for remote workers, and now you may be feeling eager to revitalize team spirit. Before diving in, let's quickly review the major benefits of successful remote employee engagement.

Engaged Employees Stay Longer 

Leaders who give sufficient thought to innovative employee engagement ideas often witness an increase in how long the employees stay with the company.  Successful implementation of virtual employee engagement ideas ensures employees are passionate about their work and stay longer. 

Devoted employees discover purpose and meaning in their work, leading to greater longevity at the same company. Studies back this up. A staggering 71% of Gen Z employees said they’re willing to accept lower wages and stay long with a company if it means having a fulfilling, engaging job. Unlike previous generations, who commonly accepted the rigid hamster wheel routine, Gen Z seeks careers that reflect their ideals and morale. They seek more than simply work; they need a meaningful, purposeful career.

Business leaders can ensure employees stay longer and achieve beyond expectations by investing in virtual employee engagement strategies prioritizing connection and fulfillment.

Engaged Employees Perform Better

The link between remote employee engagement and performance is undeniable. Engaged remote employees will likely go above and beyond, delivering superb work with greater consistency. Better performance stems from a sense of ownership and purpose, where employees feel motivated to contribute meaningfully to company goals.

Studies show that highly engaged teams are 23% more profitable than their disengaged peers. Moreover, 92% of business leaders believe engaged employees perform considerably better. This is why the question of how to increase employee engagement remotely is at the top of all successful companies' minds.

Employees who feel valued don't just clock in and out. They feel a profound connection to their roles, motivated to nail each task with vigor. Leaders can boost productivity and skyrocket their competitive edge by fostering virtual employee engagement through clear expectations, support, and recognition.

Engaged Employees are Healthier and Happier

Even the most motivated and talented individuals can find their performance taking a nosedive when health falters. Preserving and boosting employee health is central to a thriving company culture.  

And it's about more than just offering yoga classes and gym memberships. Leaders must embed a culture of well-being into every facet of daily operations. Each interaction, from morning greetings to project collaborations, must be infused with empathy and encouragement. Even a simple thank-you note or a spontaneous team trivia can go a long way.

Studies show that work environments prioritizing wellness can significantly boost remote employee engagement and innovation- proof that a happy mind is a productive one!

That said, cultivating a supportive and inclusive work culture where healthy individuals thrive boosts morale and resilience during challenging times, contributing to a more vibrant corporate vibe.

Engaged Employees Enhance the Customer Experience

The path to excellent customer experiences starts with empowered and motivated workers. It's a mutually beneficial journey where organizational success depends on cultivating a team that embraces core brand values. Engaged employees are ambassadors for the brand, channeling their enthusiasm and passion into every customer interaction. 

The Aberdeen Group's crucial report, "Employee Engagement: Paving the Way to Happy Customers" reveals the transformative impact of employee engagement on business outcomes. Strategic improvements in the employee experience can forge stronger connections with customers, shooting up service quality.

Employees who align with a company's mission naturally convey this dedication to customers, fostering enduring loyalty. This synergy highlights an essential truth in corporate dynamics: engaged employees are not just workers but active participants in the brand's narrative. Their excitement becomes contagious, affecting customer perceptions and shaping brand uniqueness. 

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