The room is quiet. A mug of coffee sits near a favorite old trinket. A cat curls up on the desk, laying as close as possible to the warm CPU of the laptop. It’s surprising that most of the world now sits at a desk in their home instead of going to work! This change has created a drastic change in the HR landscape, especially in the technology industry as it adapts from daily face-to-face collaboration - to working behind a screen, and how a company can still create a teamwork environment being miles away from one another. While remote work produces a healthier work-life/balance and productivity in your organization, how can you ensure that employees are still engaged in such a solitary work environment?
One of the best ways to keep your team engaged in a remote environment is by planning well for the year. One of the most successful tools to implement in your work-from-home environment is a monthly engagement/recognition calendar. The calendar allows for the planning of budgetary recognition items per quarter, selecting engagement activities for each month, and the scheduling of remote meetings for each activity. This has been very successful for our organization, because planning allows enough time and preparation for a successful connection with the team. Some of the items on our calendar that have been most successful are remote team lunch, one Friday off each summer, company swag item giveaway, and remote games where the winner receives a gift card. The calendar creates a recurring space to gather frequently with all team members, and ensures they are consistently recognized for their efforts.
It is crucial to obtain employee feedback to improve the organization and move it forward, but meeting with your employees regularly can be more challenging in a remote setting. We suggest scheduling confidential quarterly connects with each employee to allow them to speak honestly about their department. Create a standardized template of questions to ask each employee in the meeting in order to properly correlate the data. It is important for your employees to know that their feedback is not only important, but that action will be taken.
Bi-annual employee satisfaction surveys should also be conducted and should be anonymous. Make sure to keep the questions standardized each year to allow collection of data and actionable change. Human Resources should review this data and bring their findings to management and encourage a discussion about the success and opportunity found throughout the survey.
Our team holds a monthly call in which we discuss the significant updates from each department for that month. Everyone is encouraged to have their camera on during the meeting to make it feel like we are together, and the presentation always has a different theme to make it a little more fun! The meeting allows the departments that don’t normally interact a chance to communicate important information on a single forum. We then have a virtual “happy hour” in which employees can unwind together, update each other about their lives, and talk about anything! Every happy hour is different; sometimes we end up in someone’s backyard looking at an avocado tree in Florida, seeing snow fall in Chicago, or visiting the family chicken coup in Connecticut! This meeting truly allows us to feel like we are together and strengthens the relationships between teams.
The technology we have today and the employees entering the tech field make the transition into this new age more seamless. But remote work increases the need for interpersonal communication within teams, especially throughout different departments. Taking the time to plan and prepare will achieve success in employee engagement throughout the year. Time to plan for next month!
Written by: Jessica Stewart - HR Manager