7 ways to boost team engagement online

4 min read
March 5, 2021

When your team is working remotely, it’s very challenging to keep employee engagement high. 2020 saw a lot of changes in the way companies worldwide organize their staff members. Numerous companies decided to take the leap and switch to remote work as much as possible. This wouldn’t be possible 15-20 years ago, but today it is becoming more and more popular.

Many companies (like ourselves) have switched completely to remote work, without planning to ever come back to office work. The pandemic has only made this process faster, because remote work has been on the increase in the last couple of years.

Many teams are now from completely different continents, and it’s become perfectly normal to have employees from all corners of the globe.

However, one of the biggest drawbacks of remote work is the lack of direct human contact. With everyone working from home, team engagement becomes an issue. This is especially problematic for companies who have recently introduced remote work. So, how to increase team engagement online? Here are 7 tips that will get your employees juiced up and ready to crush it!

  1. Schedule regular coffee/refreshment breaks
  2. Include interactive team building activities
  3. Have one-on-one calls with employees
  4. Regularly ask for their feedback
  5. Give credit where credit is due
  6. Allow flexible working hours
  7. Break down teams into productive units

1. Schedule regular coffee/refreshment breaks

Overworking can lead to stress, and stress always leads to low work efficiency and dissatisfaction among employees. This is why it’s important to have regular breaks, where team members can wind down and recharge. You can set up theme-based breaks; for example, a break for coffee, snack, etc.

These breaks will help your team members de-stress and get back to their tasks with more drive and focus. Also, these refreshment breaks will encourage bonding. Employees will get to know each other better, exchange viewpoints, interact on a more human level and feel connected.

2. Include interactive team building activities

Team members will bond even more if they play games together. Games are great because they spur creativity and increase empathy, allowing employees to relax and enjoy themselves.

There are dozens of team-building activities and games you can use to boost engagement among your employees. From trivia quizzes and virtual room tours, to book clubs and “icebreaker” games, these activities will allow your team members to bring out their best and appreciate being in the company. Incorporating a double-deck pinochle game into team activities will enhance communication, foster collaboration, and hone strategic thinking, significantly enriching employee teamwork skills.

Before you decide which games and activities to choose, you can run a poll and choose the ones that get the most votes from employees.

3. Have one-on-one calls with employees

Team members need to feel fully appreciated in order to give their best. Oftentimes, this won’t be possible to achieve only through team-building games.

However, through one-on-one calls, you will be able to understand each employee better and help them engage much more.

Depending on their position in the company, an employee can have a one-on-one call with the founder, a manager, your HR department, their team leaders, main coworkers, etc. One-on-one calls will help team members feel cherished and appreciated in the workplace, and allow them to voice their needs and concerns in a positive, productive way.

4. Regularly ask for their feedback

Employees love it when they are valued and appreciated. There is nothing worse for a worker than being left on their own, without any help or word of advice. This is why it’s important to encourage employees to give feedback and voice their opinions on matters that are vital to them. It will allow them to be actively involved in the development of the company and contribute to its growth.

Ask questions like:

  • Whether they are happy with their job position
  • How they are handling it
  • If there is anything they would change
  • What are their thoughts on company culture are
  • What they feel would need some improving
  • etc.

Answers to these questions will also give you a fresh perspective on the company because employees will send you continuous feedback on the work process and their wellbeing.

5. Give credit where credit is due

If an employee doesn’t get recognized for a job well done, chances are it will reflect on their productivity and level of engagement. As we mentioned, people need to feel valued. Because of this, the management should give credit to those team members (or groups) who have made significant progress on a project or reached a milestone.

This doesn’t have to be anything pompous; a simple thank-you note, a short email or public praise during an online meeting are all fine. The important thing is that the commended employee notices how much the company cares about them and their work.

6. Allow flexible working hours

Sticking to strict working hours can be extremely daunting, especially when employees are working from home. Whenever possible, a company should allow its employees to make their own schedule.

Remote work is beneficial for employees because it often allows them to work “in their own time”. As long as this doesn’t interfere with your project goals, encourage team members to choose their own work schedule. This can mean: starting work day at a different time, switching between shifts, etc.

Many employees have problems adjusting to strict working hours, because of personal matters, health issues, family problems, etc. This will help them maintain a much healthier work-life balance.

7. Break down teams into productive units

Online teams can work really well but also run into issues with task management and communication. One of the main reasons why this happens is because many teams tend to be too big.

Employees will be much more engaged if they work in smaller teams. When it comes to customer service, you can form a small group of teams working on complex tasks, whereas your client self-service portal can handle routine inquiries and provide solutions to common issues. Therefore, instead of having, for example, a team of ten people, try breaking it down into two teams of five, or even less than that. Oftentimes, a highly productive team can consist of only a couple of members.

Consider these mini units as virtual offices. Since employees are not together physically in an office, they need to be “on the same page” and work closely together on day-to-day tasks. Smaller teams also improve employee communication and help form stronger bonds. Team members will work off each other and be fully engaged with their daily workload.

Photo by Jacob Lund from Noun Project

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