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4 Tips to Keep Your Remote Team Engaged

With the surge in remote work leading to a lack of in-person interactions, managers are actively looking for ways to keep their dispersed teams engaged. Driving engagement within and among remote teams relies on trust and proper communication. The good news is that managers have the ability to directly affect both of these contributing factors. According to Gallup, 70% of employee engagement is a direct result of great leadership.

Leaders that apply the right processes, practices, and tools to set up the foundations for trust, productivity, and clear communication will be able to maximize employee engagement within and among their remote teams.

At Cassiopeia, we work closely with remote managers, empowering them with insights to boost team collaboration, communication, and a sense of belonging. We would love to share a few creative ways for leaders to boost their team engagement while working remotely.

From our experience, here are 4 ways to boost team engagement:

1. Use data to understand your team engagement level.

One of the most valuable resources for improving employee engagement in any team is data. In order to improve the team’s workplace experience, you need to know where your team members are thriving or struggling with regard to engagement.

It is critical to gather and understand your team’s level of engagement. Some key indicators may include your employees’ response rates, level of activity in meetings and public communication channels, interaction with their fellow teammates, and their time spent communicating with people outside of their immediate team or region.

It’s highly recommended for managers to dedicate additional meeting time with less engaged employees to better understand their needs, challenges, and motivations, along with ways that the team or company can improve their work experience.

2. Add meeting check-ins.

Add daily check-ins to your team meeting routine. Dedicate the first 5-10 minutes at the beginning of the meeting to participate in a short check-in ritual. 

Check-ins allow people to be present. Worrying about what happened before the meeting or what will happen afterward keeps the mind busy and distracted. The purpose of enabling participants to share whatever is on their minds is to allow everyone to feel present and connected.

Check-ins drive understanding, reinforce trust and give everyone a unique voice.

When — Check-ins should be held at the beginning of the team or department meeting. Remember to include it in the agenda. Roles — Designate one facilitator to manage check-ins in a purposeful and timely manner. This role should rotate among team members. The ritual — The facilitator asks check-in questions and each member takes a turn to answer. There should be no room for further questions or comments; people simply listen and respond to the questions. Here are a few examples of recommended check-in questions: What has been on your mind lately? What are you bringing to this meeting? How is your day going so far? 

3. Set up team-building games.

Research has shown that remote workers typically have weaker relationships with their colleagues than those employees who work in the office.

Playing virtual games can help to improve a sense of belonging within teams and informal joint experiences can strengthen employees’ relationships.

Here are some examples of great team-building games:

Ice Breakers — Spark a conversation by posing questions that reveal more about your employees’ personalities. For example, ask ‘what is one item you couldn’t live without?’ or ‘what’s your unusual talent?’ You can also play ice breaker games, such as ‘two truths and one lie’ or ‘would you rather’.

Photo of your life — Each employee can share a picture of something in their life that tells a story about themselves.

Virtual games — There are many popular online games that can be played competitively between players. Some of these apps include Codenames, Bullshit, and Words with Friends.

Bucket list challenge — Host a video conference and have each of your employees create a bucket list of things they want to do in their lifetime. If you have two employees who share the same activities, challenge them to hold each other accountable, and check in on their progress!

4. Expand the virtual space.

It’s harder to feel connected when communicating virtually. As the meeting host, you can implement a few methods to make people feel more connected and foster deeper relationships.  

Leverage the new virtual space to foster intimacy. When we connect with people remotely, we are often being invited into their homes. This is a unique opportunity to strengthen relationships and encourage intimacy - so take advantage of it! Welcome people’s kids and pets into the meeting. Ask people to bring their kids in to answer a check-in question. Ask people to share something about their space. Invite authenticity into meetings and make space for people to share aspects of their private lives. 

This can make virtual interactions, in some ways, deeper than they would be in the office.

Allow people to connect in smaller groups. It’s easier for people to connect with smaller groups. Use the breakout room technique and divide employees into smaller discussion groups. Make sure to ask your employees to share the main conclusions or highlights of their discussion at the wider forum. 

Use check-ins or polls to assess your team’s mode and energy level. Expressing feelings and energy levels with the group allows people to connect on a deeper level and feel that they are not alone in the challenges they face. It allows employees to empathize with each other and establish commonalities. 

Working remotely does not necessarily mean that engagement has to be lower. The virtual space can actually open up great opportunities to engage and foster even better communication and relationships that didn’t exist in the office.

As you navigate the future of remote work, it is important to get familiar with new virtual opportunities to gain insights, express empathy, and improve communication to build an amazing remote team culture. 

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