Remote working will be an upward trend for times to come. While the current Corona outbreak might have pushed many organisations to embrace work from home as a response to the situation, the fact is – with technology making the world a smaller place, remote working will be the way to move forward.

While remote working has several benefits (like – reduced overhead costs of office space and travel), it also poses certain challenges. Remote working by almost complete workforce for extended durations, as is demanded by the present pandemic situation, isn’t something many of the organisations are geared up for.

Even with jobs where physical presence of employees can be done away with for the accomplishment of the required tasks, remote working does have certain pertinent issues that need to be addressed – the major ones being of accountability, employee engagement and experience.

Employee engagement happens to be an important part of an organisational culture of any progressive company. Engagement is based on the evidence of trust between the employees and the organization, where promises and commitments are understood and fulfilled from both sides. Being and feeling that you are a part of the team with clear goals, strong & authentic values, and a supportive environment helps employees know that you are valued. Employee engagement helps drive talent retention within the organization and instils a sense of belonging in the employees thereby enhancing their motivation levels and productivity.

If we view the current situation as an opportunity to learn and adapt, one thing that organisations need to look at is how to provide a superior employee experience while working remotely, keep them engaged and motivated.

Employee Health and wellness

In remote working situations, most organisations use an online attendance system wherein each employee is required to login at specified time. Alongside the attendance, it is equally important to keep a track of the health status of the employees along with their families, not just in the present pandemic situation, but on an ongoing basis. Having a well articulated health and wellness strategy, policies, practices and interventions as part of the overall HR strategy will give a sense of being cared for to the employees.

Team Rituals

While working remotely for extended durations, your employees may feel disconnected sometimes.Creating unique rituals and traditions helps remote teams to bond in the virtual space and also helps in keeping the company culture strong. For example – having Friday after-work drinks at respective places over a video chat, keeping a separate chat for cute pet pictures, sharing the fun fact of the day. For instance, several managers are connecting with their entire teams over zoom calls once a day. This is not just to take stock of work, but to bond as individuals. Individual needs are being addressed, and people are coming closer not just as colleagues but as human beings.

Online games

Have a quick break while playing Charades or Pictionary online with your remote team. A little competition and distraction from routine aid greatly in building a strongly-connected team. Just like we have a recreation corner/ break-out zones in offices, creating an online fun space once a week, may be on a Friday, might help keeping those engagement and bonding levels up.

Virtual challenges and competitions

Another great way to motivate your remote employees is to organize some sort of virtual competition with a small incentive. Hold a photo contest, a trivia quiz, even a sports competition and see how much fun it can be. The organisational values and behaviours can be woven into the reward and recognition process, and weekly/ monthly recognition of the right behaviours will keep the team engaged, and the organisation culture and values alive. For instance – a client organisation is running a virtual campaign during this period wherein each value is focussed on each week, and employees are sharing stories around those values.

Watercooler chat

Informal communications at workplace help employees to familiarize themselves with other team members and shift from 9-to-5 mindset, whereas online work is something limited to the duties and work hours only. Every remote team is a small community that should promote socializing and human interactions just as much as efficiency and productivity. By creating a “watercooler” chat process, encouraging team members to connect over coffee one-on-one with members within the team, or cross functionally, will help strengthen bonds and relationships.

Online Learning Interventions

There are many types of skills and knowledge acquisition that can be undertaken through online learning interventions and training programs. This can be effectively used to up-skill your employees along their existing line of work as well as for learning soft skills. New learnings are also a great tool to keep the employees motivated and gainfully busy. This is an ideal time for organisations to launch zoom learning, coaching and online programs for employees to learn and grow.

This lockdown situation can be used as a perfect opportunity to have autonomy over work-life balance and tap into different new learning opportunities without missing out on the main job. Employee engagement starts with trust and communication between the company and its people. A well-planned and effective engagement plan during remote working situation can help to keep employees productive, loyal and happy with the organisation, which will greatly benefit the company growth and business success.