How to Engage Remote Employees: 5 Tips from Organimi

Developing a positive culture that works for your organization isn’t something that happens by accident. You’ve probably spent years building it up bit by bit, forming and nurturing one that is successful, productive, and keeps your team happy. But now that your team is dispersed and working from home, there are new challenges and hurdles that need to be overcome.

For organizations that have always worked fully remote—like those of us here at Organimi—or have had elements of remote working in certain parts of the business, they’ll have had the advantage of having everything already figured out when the world was plunged into a full-blown pandemic mode. Others, on the other hand, have had to adapt quickly. And not every organization has been successful in doing so.   

Thanks to modern technology, there has been a major shift over the last couple of decades from traditional centralized working, where every employee works out of the head or satellite offices, to flexible, dispersed ways of working where teams work from co-working spaces or their homes.

In fact, there’s no shortage of highly successful organizations that have zero office space, and these organizations have all managed to create a positive company culture and unify their workforce while not being located in the same physical space.  


How Do You Keep Employees Engaged While Working from Home?

The biggest challenge by far when it comes to maintaining a positive culture among a dispersed team is that of engagement: Just how do you keep remote workers engaged when they’ve got all the distractions and challenges that come with home-based working?

Engagement is something that has been particularly problematic during the pandemic because of the loss of face-to-face interaction. People grew used to this while working in an office environment, and although people flocked to Zoom at the start of the pandemic, employees have started to burn out from the constant live meetings, Zoom happy hours, and forced video events. Add this to the stressors that come with a global pandemic and sudden, mandatory work from and stay at home orders and it’s easy to see just why engagement is particularly challenging.

With the pandemic still going strong almost nine months after the first national lockdowns were announced, it’s inevitable that we’re going to have to carry on working from home for the foreseeable future. Indeed, some believe that many of us will never return to the office ever again.


5 Ways to Engage Remote Employees

With this in mind, it may be time for you to start thinking about ways you can better engage your remote employees and build a positive remote culture. Here are a few places to start that don’t involve Zoom:  

  1. Don’t Dismiss Small Talk
  2. Encourage Employees to Explore Hobbies and Side Projects
  3. Send Out Office Perks
  4. Keep Everybody Connected
  5. Use Org Chart Software

1. Don’t Dismiss Small Talk

Small talk, water cooler chat, idle chit-chat—whatever you want to call it—is important to your employees whether they’re working remotely or not.

As the Harvard Business Review says, one of the most important steps you as a leader can take while working remotely is to structure ways for employees to interact with one another socially about non-work topics.

This is because your team wants to talk about more than just their work projects. They want to talk to their colleagues about what’s going on in their lives, what they’ve been watching on TV, and how their also home-based other halves have been driving them up the walls!

When you talk to someone in person, it’s unusual to dive straight into the business end of the conversation. Instead, you start with small talk and ease into things. You should take this approach and allow general socializing before and after work topics are discussed.


2. Encourage Employees to Explore Hobbies and Side Projects

Giving employees the freedom to explore their passions and side projects on company time can actually benefit organizations in the long run, especially when these passions and side projects align with organizational goals.

Organizations recognize this, too, leading many big firms including Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and HP to adopt an initiative known as the ‘20% Project’ whereby employees are allocated 20 percent of their paid work time to pursue personal side projects. The objective of the initiative is to inspire innovation and ultimately benefit the company.

Now more than ever, the freedom to devote some of their work time on side projects could give your remote employees a much-needed morale boost and not only bring more engagement but tangible benefits for the company, too.

3. Send Out Office Perks

Whether you bring in the occasional round of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for your team or host a happy hour on the last Friday of every month, there’s no reason why you can’t replicate these perks to some degree while your team is working from home.

While it might not be feasible to start mailing out doughnuts and bottles of beer, there are other ways you can carry on providing perks similar to those your team enjoys when in the office.

U.S. company Batch, for example, has a range of care packages made by small American businesses that include work-from-home, bath & body, snacks, and more. In a similar vein, Teambuilding offers virtual team building activities for companies worldwide.

4. Keep Everybody Connected

Your employees want to stay connected with each other and feel included. They want to share the goings-on of their daily lives, show each other funny videos that they’ve seen on TikTok, engage in gossip, and build relationships.

By promoting a culture of connectedness when working remotely, you’re showing your team that you recognize them as more than just employees, that they’re unique, individual people with their own backgrounds, passions, and ideas.

As a manager, you should take the lead and create a social space where employees can feel safe being their regular selves. There are a lot of ways you can do this, from promoting light-hearted conversations at the start of meetings or creating a dedicated social Slack space, every method will help ease tensions during these trying times and add a human element to the workday.

5. Use Org Chart Software

It’s hard enough to put names to faces when you’re working in the office and seeing people all day, every day. On top of knowing who’s who, you’ve got to know what people’s job roles are and who reports to whom in the organizational hierarchy.

Without an organizational chart to help your remote employees along, people may get stuck and have to waste their time asking around for basic information, especially new hires who won’t get the benefit of an in-person onboarding experience.

Modern org chart tools and software like Organimi gives employees the opportunity to instantly find and connect with the people they need when they need them.

At any time, day or night, from anywhere in the world, and from any device, org chart tools provide employees with real-time information like names, job roles, pictures, reporting relationships, skillsets, project commitments, and more.

A Strange New World

It’s clear to see that the world and the workplace have changed dramatically this year, perhaps for good. With remote working likely to stick around for the foreseeable future, it’s important for you as a leader to do all you can to engage your remote employees and keep them motivated to strengthen your organization’s overall culture.

Why not get started right now? Sign up for a free trial of Organimi and get full access to all of its powerful features!