While remote work became necessary in March 2020, the situation is now different. There is a virtual tug-of-war happening between employees who want to continue working remotely (for flexibility of schedule and increased productivity) and employers who want people to work in the corporate office (for easier collaboration, increased control or simply to capitalize on their real estate holdings).
While there are many benefits to WFH, there are some drawbacks. Sixty percent of respondents to this Pew Research survey say they feel less connected to their coworkers now than they did two years ago. This lack of connection leads to slower progress, lack of loyalty, decreased sense of job satisfaction and overall lower employee engagement.
Although remote workers may be physically apart from the corporate office, there are still many ways to keep employees connected and included within the company. These seven strategies will help:
Choppy internet and disorganized workspaces often cause remote workers to shy away from turning on their cameras and voicing opinions during important meetings and collaborations. It may not seem like much, but having the proper tech that allows team members to see each other, put faces to names and talk without hindrance helps them get to know each other in a more meaningful way.
If you’ve been to any Zoom meeting, you know lighting can be an issue. And it’s such an easy fix! The McStreamy light ring and microphone helps employees look good, sound good and upgrade their virtual meeting game.
The 10″ ring light is adjustable in brightness and color to keep users well-lit, and the studio-quality mic ensures everyone on the call hears each word clearly. The set is tastefully decorated on the microphone dome and cellphone holder DTS plate. Get all the details by contacting us here.
By providing a work-from-home stipend or a tech package that includes items such as the ring light above, you help employees create and afford a dependable workspace right at home. Having reliable technology and the proper tools to create a home office helps remote workers feel more professional and comfortable in their home office. This confidence translates to better engagement not only in meetings but with the company overall.
Scheduling one-on-ones to get to know other remote workers isn’t always easy. To foster genuine connection, create an open communication channel with a team chat app. Using software such as Slack or Microsoft Teams lets employees interact with each other in a convenient and meaningful way.
But team chat apps don’t have to be all business. Have fun with your channels! Beyond creating groups based on common interests, hobbies or work activities, give employees the opportunity to engage in #you-are-awesome (peer-to-peer recognition), #today-i-learned or #bon-appetit type channels. (This comprehensive list has 21 specific channel ideas + another 20 broad topic ideas.)
When team members can converse, interact and cultivate friendships with people from different departments that they may not have been able to meet before, they feel like part of the team. These kinds of open communication channels connect teams beyond the realm of work, and this connection is key to employees feeling engaged.
Jobs don’t have to be all work and no play. Implementing fun activities and hosting virtual events are beneficial to decrease stress, break up the workday and connect remote workers with one another. How to begin? Set up icebreaker activities and conversation starters to help employees get comfortable with each other.
Hubspot’s 30 Fun (Not Cheesy) Ice Breaker Games Your Employees Will Enjoy is a great place to start. While some of the ideas are for in-person interactions, most can work in the virtual space. Our faves: 18 & Under; Two Truths And A Lie; and Paint A Picture, Build A Story. These kinds of activities foster a spirit of collaboration, which boosts both satisfaction and productivity.
To inspire even more team spirit, create branded merch for everyone to wear during the virtual event. Apparel, caps or even fun sunglasses will work. Incorporate a theme. A retro ’60s shindig would be groovy, especially with branded tie dyed t-shirts.
This Tie Dye Performance T-Shirt brightens up any virtual event. Made from 100% polyester, it features moisture management and anti-microbial properties, a self-fabric collar and double-needle stitched hem with tack. See all the color options and order yours here.
Many company cultures promote working as a team to accomplish an objective. However, teamwork often implies completing individual work to attain a common goal. This can be an isolating experience for remote workers. To increase engagement, start promoting more collaboration in the workplace.
Collaborating with team members requires a deeper level of engagement, trust and interaction. Rather than working individually, collaborative team members are able to think together, work together and come up with creative solutions. This can be done with recurring meetings, brainstorming sessions or virtual study halls. A collaborative teamwork model helps create trustworthy relationships while increasing creativity and productivity.
One downside to remote work is the rise in mental health issues. While much of the increase is due to both the media barrage of bad news coupled with the isolation of lockdowns, there is a contributing factor that employers can address: Lack of appreciation.
Research shows that workers feel significantly less valued since switching to a remote environment. A lack of expressed gratitude can cause employees to feel disconnected from both their managers and the company.
Simply saying “thank you” or “keep up the good work” can go a long way. Adding shout-outs into weekly/monthly meetings spotlights great work in real time.
But don’t leave appreciation to chance. Design structured recognition programs that incorporate branded merchandise to honor employees for their milestones. Branded corporate outerwear or luxe bags are great options because of the high perceived value.
For example, the fully-lined Solo Reade leather backpack is an ideal gift for employee recognition. Made from soft full-grain leather, the backpack features a padded compartment with a laptop pocket (fits up to 15.6”), a large capacity center compartment with organizers and a front zip-down pocket with two interior pockets. That’s not all. There’s a quick-access front top pocket, padded carry handle, padded air mesh back and adjustable backpack straps. Get all the details here.
Rewarding outstanding performance in this way not only keeps workers motivated but it also increases the bonds between coworkers and deepens their connection with the organization.
The COVID-19 lockdowns challenged everyone in a number of different ways, with the financial health of many workers being substantially impacted. Financial stress can take a huge toll on employees’ work satisfaction, productivity, motivation, health and well-being. A great way to minimize financial stress, without breaking the bank, is by creating a financial wellness program.
Having tools and resources to educate employees on budgeting and personal finance management not only helps mitigate work-from-home stress but also helps them feel more connected to their job. If a remote employee is interested in relocating closer to the corporate office, a financial wellness program can give them the resources needed to determine how much house they can afford so they can plan accordingly. Financial wellness programs allow employees to make the most out of their paycheck and create a deeper appreciation and loyalty to their job.
With the introduction of the hybrid workspace, employees have the option to work from home, at the office or a combination of the two. This work model allows willing employees to meet coworkers in person while maintaining a level of flexibility, which encourages them to cultivate meaningful relationships in an unpressured way.
To make the transition into hybrid working easier, give employees branded merch that not only supports working in both a corporate and home office environment but also allows for easy transport of essentials between the two. The NoWire Mouse Pad is a great example.
Sized 11.5″ x 7.375″, the NoWire Mouse Pad is a 10W fast Qi charger built into a mouse mat. Simply plug in the included cord to any computer’s USB slot, set the phone on the Qi icon and watch it charge. At only ¼” thick, the mouse pad is easy to transport, and its soft surface allows for easy tracking and increased comfort.
Since the pad is full-color sublimated, you can create designs that include the company’s vision or mission statement, pillars of the company culture, exercises to do while sitting at a desk or anything else that supports company goals, programs or wellness initiatives. For more details, contact us here.
For even more ideas on branded merchandise remote workers (and their bosses) will love, check out 6 Corporate Gift Ideas For Employees Returning To A Hybrid Office, Staying Connected While Working From Home and our contribution to the Forbes.com article Three Ways To Leverage Branded Merchandise To Support Hybrid Employees.
No matter how your team gets the job done, the seven strategies above help you maintain connectivity among remote workers and create a sense of inclusion. Not only will this improve productivity, but it’ll also boost company morale, allow employees to foster meaningful relationships, and create a more engaged and happier workforce.
Love one of the product ideas showcased above? Our concierge service can work with you to design a program that will surprise, delight and engage your employees.
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or book an appointment at https://meetings.hubspot.com/corpspec/chat-about-swag for a quick 10-minute chat, 20-minute new product call or 30-minute brainstorming session so we can chat about all the ways we can help design strategic programs that boost employee engagement.