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What are You Doing to Keep Employees Engaged and Productive in a Virtual Environment?

An engaged employee is also a productive and motivated employee. We’ve known this since the term became another buzzword and listicles began popping up around the web, espousing all the benefits available from developing an employee engagement program for your company. While this still holds, the methodology and strategy will require a revision to ensure you can keep employee engagement levels similar to pre-pandemic levels.

A New Employee Engagement Model for a Virtual Environment

By 2018, Gartner reported that 34% of the U.S. workforce was engaged in their company’s vision and mission. That was an unprecedented level of employee commitment, and those who reported dissatisfaction with their work environments fell to the lowest level ever recorded. The challenge now is to continue keeping employees engaged in a virtual environment and to ensure the same levels of commitment you achieved before Work from Home (WFH) became a necessity. 

Remote work used to be one of the pillars of employee engagement. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of employees listed WFH as one of the benefits that would keep them committed to their employer’s goals. The freedom that comes with a better work/life balance made companies who offered remote work attractive to employees. Changes to the work landscape now pose an entirely different challenge to organizations – how to keep employees engaged in an entirely virtual environment?

Following the tips below can help you maintain your employee engagement levels and keep your valuable resources happy, productive, and motivated. 

Retaining the “Office” Structure

Structuring daily meetings similar to the office environment can help improve communication and maintain employee focus. If you previously used a stand-up meeting to plan everyone’s day, these should remain a part of the agenda. In cases where employees work in shifts, meetings to check-in and check-out can provide better engagement from team members who take over after the previous shifts’ workday is done. 

Using video conferencing for your daily check-ins will provide a similar experience as in-office meetings. As everyone can see their colleagues, it will help them to stay on the same page and still feel like valued members of a team working to achieve the company’s goals. 

Remaining Flexible and Accommodating Different Work Styles

It’s important to remember that not everyone will adjust to a new work style easily when transitioning to a virtual environment. Employers will need to understand that team members have different experiences while WFH and accommodating their emotional response to the change is essential for retaining employee engagement.

It’s still possible to have an “open-door” policy from team leaders in a virtual environment. If an employee isn’t working on a tight deadline or busy with other meetings, jumping on a video call to find out how they’re coping will stimulate the same kind of teamwork as a conversation around the water-cooler would. 

Maintain Clear Lines of Communication

Leaders usually provide clear instructions, communicate effectively with subordinates, and listen to everyone’s concerns. Although easier to achieve in a boardroom, creating a communicative virtual work environment will be challenging but not impossible. Setting up communication channels that allow for debate and discussion without becoming disruptive whenever teams collaborate will be vital for maintaining employee engagement in virtual environments

Set clear guidelines for sidebar conversations using a virtual meeting policy. The goal is still to extract the best opinions and recommendations from your team without alienating someone who feels they didn’t have the same opportunity to contribute. 

Train Team Leaders in Remote Team Management

Managing a remote team requires additional effort and consideration from every team leader. Providing tips and tricks from the corporate level can help your managers conduct themselves and their teams effectively during extended WFH periods. Getting the most out of employees may require some out-of-the-box thinking when moving to a completely remote environment. 

Your leaders should also find innovative ways to celebrate successes and boost team morale. An after-work quiz or virtual drink session will build cohesion in the team, helping everyone unwind from the stress of the daily grind. 

Building a Framework for Employee Engagement in a Virtual Environment

Engaging with your remote teams requires a set of tools and strategies that makes the virtual environment similar to a face-to-face setting. With the latest communication, collaboration, and video conferencing tools, you can create an engaging framework for remote employees. 

Social distancing doesn’t have to mean emotional isolation during the workday. Creating a productive, motivated, and engaged team of remote employees is possible with the right tools and attitudes within the organization. 

To find out how Intermedia’s innovative tools can help create the right framework for employee engagement in virtual environments, get in touch today. 

About Kirsten Barta

Kirsten Barta is Program Manager of Digital Content and Strategy at Intermedia