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The Challenge of Keeping Remote Employees Engaged in 2024

The Challenge of Keeping Remote Employees Engaged in 2024

Remote employees are more difficult to engage. For instance, when you only see each other online, it’s much harder to build strong relationships with coworkers and managers, which is a crucial aspect of employee engagement.

The Challenge of Keeping Remote Employees Engaged in 2024

Remote work is here to stay, and many employees are pushing against the return-to-the-office mandate that some companies are trying to impose. These companies prefer to have their employees working from the office for one simple reason: they fear employee disengagement, isolation, and “quiet quitting.” 

Remote employees are more difficult to engage. For instance, when you only see each other online, it’s much harder to build strong relationships with coworkers and managers, which is a crucial aspect of employee engagement. 

But while being remote makes it harder to keep employees engaged, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Overall, remote employees need a similar approach to engagement as in-person employees, covering all areas of employee engagement - from maintaining a healthy work-life balance to creating a sense of purpose and belonging. 

In this article, we’ll share 11 employee engagement ideas for remote workers. 

Remote Employee Engagement Challenges

Remote Employee Engagement Challenges

Remote work can lead to employee disengagement due to: 

  • The lack of social interactions with coworkers: Without the daily office small talk, employees may experience a sense of isolation and loneliness, leading to a decrease in motivation and engagement. 
  • Feelings of being left out: Remote employees may feel disconnected from the company's overall progress and updates, contributing to a sense of being left out of important decisions and milestones.
  • Gaps in communication: The absence of face-to-face conversations can create communication gaps, making it harder for team members to stay informed about changes, goals, and achievements.
  • A thin line of work-life balance: Remote work can blur the boundaries between professional and personal life, making it harder for employees to establish a healthy work-life balance.

If you don’t pay attention to these challenges, your remote employees may quickly become disengaged. The good news is that there are many remote employee engagement ideas you can incorporate into your employee engagement strategy to prevent this from happening. 

11 Employee Engagement Ideas for Remote Workers

11 Employee Engagement Ideas for Remote Workers

Allow them to be remote employees

Remember that your employees choose to work remotely for a reason. If you’re allowing them to do so, it's important to give them all the benefits of remote working, such as flexibility, trust, and independence.

Working remotely relies on trust. If your workplace culture is about controlling everything your employees do, it can make remote work incredibly hard for everyone. This micromanaging approach may result in employees feeling disconnected from their work.

Bet on communication

Poor communication is one of the leading causes of employee disengagement. Remote work requires managers to figure out ways to offset the physical distance with swift communication. Overcommunication, even. 

To keep your remote team engaged, improve communication at the company level. Keep your employees informed about changes, goals, and achievements through a company newsletter and regular team meetings. 

With tools like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, you can schedule regular video meetings to foster a sense of connection. You can set up a communication system that works in real time, like Slack, which is much more efficient than back-and-forth email threads.

📢 According to a recent study, receiving too many texts can lead to complete disconnection. So, make sure not to overwhelm your remote workers with too many messages in an attempt towards efficient communication.

Give your remote employees a voice

Igloo’s State of the Digital Workplace survey found that 80% of remote workers feel left out. One way to prevent this is to give them a voice. They should feel heard, even if they’re hundreds of miles away and behind a screen.

To do this, set up an idea management platform that allows employees to contribute their ideas, opinions, and feedback at any time, regardless of where they are. 

With an idea management software, you can make sure that no idea gets lost in the mix and that all suggestions are properly evaluated. This way, you can show your employees that their voice matters and their feedback is valued. 

Encourage teamwork & accountability 

One of the challenges of remote employee engagement is the lack of teamwork. In the remote environment, collaboration can be impaired more than in an in-office setting. 

To strengthen remote teamwork, encourage employees to form groups for projects. You can also assign everyone an accountability partner to keep track of the progress, discuss the roadblocks, and brainstorm solutions. 

Pairing employees with accountability partners is a great way to increase productivity and help them move forward with their projects. It also helps to nurture relationships between co-workers and reduce feelings of isolation. 

📢 To strengthen teamwork and collaboration further, you can host informal monthly meetings where everybody shares the project they’re working on, updates the team on their progress, and announces important news.

Improve the remote meetings 

Virtual meetings are an essential part of the remote environment. While they’re necessary to ensure everyone is on the same page, track progress, and share important updates with the team, employees find nearly two-thirds of all meetings pointless, according to Doodle’s State of Meetings 2019 report.

Too many virtual meetings also lead to meeting burnout - a phenomenon called “Zoom fatigue.” To avoid leading your employees to Zoom fatigue and feelings of wasted time, make sure all your remote meetings have a clear purpose and aren’t too long. 

Before scheduling a meeting, consider whether it’s necessary or if it can be an email or a quick Slack message instead. If you schedule a meeting, plan an agenda beforehand to prevent it from going off-topic and dragging out. 

Zoom fatigue definition
"Zoom fatigue" and its causes, as described by Psychology Today and Jeremy N. Bailenson

Allow “coffee time”

Watercooler conversations and gossip sessions in the kitchen make office life exciting for many people. Although some employees view this office “small talk” as awkward and distracting, many need it to feel connected to their coworkers. 

Because it lacks this social element, the remote environment can feel isolating and lonely. The good news is that, even though you can’t entirely recreate the chitchat by the coffee machine, there are ways to engage remote employees in small talk. 

For instance, you can build in a few minutes at the beginning of each meeting to allow employees to chitchat. You can also create a dedicated Slack chat where employees can share funny memes, gossip a bit, and talk about their day-to-day. 

Make remote work as seamless as possible

Being well-prepared for remote work is key to making it easier for your employees to work from home (or wherever they want). Technical problems and a lack of structure and systems to make remote work efficient can lead to chaos and employee disengagement. 

To make remote work as seamless as possible for your employees, make sure to put into place the right processes and create easy, intuitive workflows for them to follow. Most of the time, this must be accompanied by the right tech stack for remote work. 

Another way to make remote work smooth is to centralize all of your documentation in one place. Create a resource library where you’ll keep your policies, procedures, guidelines, checklists, and other relevant documents your team may need to rely on. 

Software ideas to facilitate remote work & remote employee engagement

  • Slack: for messaging
  • Asana: for project management and task tracking
  • Ideanote: for idea management
  • Zoom: for video conferencing
  • Notion: for note-taking and collaboration
  • Kudos: for employee recognition
  • SurveySparrow: for employee surveys and feedback
  • 15Five: for performance management
  • Worvivo: for company intranet
  • Leapsome: for employee learning

  • For more tools, check out our article on employee engagement software.


    Encourage asynchronous collaboration

    Asynchronous collaboration is a great opportunity to spike employee engagement, even in a remote work setup. Just because team members aren't physically in the same office doesn't mean they can't contribute and brainstorm collectively, each in their own time. 

    Consider exploring asynchronous brainstorming within your company. With a platform like Ideanote, you can set up a place for your employees to share the ideas they brainstorm individually whenever they like.

    This will encourage them to brainstorm whenever they feel inspired to, boosting their creativity and, therefore, engagement. 

    Educate employees on remote work-life balance

    Employee burnout is real for both on-site and remote workers. Deloitte’s Workplace Burnout Survey found that 77% of employees have experienced burnout in their current jobs. 

    Workplace burnout is often due to the lack of proper work-life balance, and working from home doesn’t automatically improve it. In fact, Indeed’s Employee Burnout Report discovered that 53% of work-from-home employees find themselves working more hours than they did in the office.   

    This isn’t really surprising, given that the line between professional and personal life can be very blurred when working from home. If left unaddressed, the burnout caused by improper work-life balance can inevitably lead to employee disengagement. 

    A good way to prevent this from happening is to provide your employees with training and resources to educate them on how to maintain a healthy work-life balance when working remotely. 

    Employers and managers should also play a part in helping employees maintain this balance by encouraging them to shut off the computers at the end of the workday, not burdening them with extra tasks, and refraining from messaging them after work hours. 

    Celebrate your remote workers’ accomplishments

    Employee recognition plays a big part in employee engagement. When your employees feel recognized and appreciated, it nurtures their sense of belonging and community. 

    Although remote work can make celebrating your employees’ achievements a bit more challenging, there are many ways to do that effectively, such as: 

    • Using employee recognition and rewards programs and software, 
    • Organizing virtual celebration events with the team, 
    • Publicly acknowledging and praising your employees’ achievements (for example, via a Slack channel dedicated to celebrating accomplishments), 
    • Rewarding employees with gift cards for their achievements,
    • Creating an employee of the month program,
    • Giving employees personalized thank-you cards or thanking them during team meetings.  

    Organize remote employee engagement activities

    The remote work setting lacks the element of social interaction, which is needed to strengthen relationships between coworkers and managers and improve teamwork. Without this social element, remote employees can quickly disconnect from work. 

    To keep them engaged, recreate social interactions in the remote environment. You can do so by organizing virtual team-building activities. Here are some ideas: 

    • Virtual coffee breaks where team members can chat on non-work-related topics.
    • Trivia or quiz nights to encourage friendly competition and team bonding. 
    • Virtual happy hours with themed activities or games.
    • Fitness challenges, virtual workouts, or yoga sessions.
    • Virtual book club or movie night to discuss shared readings or films.
    • Virtual escape room puzzles or digital scavenger hunts. 

    Don’t be afraid to be creative when organizing virtual remote employee engagement activities. The more creative the activity, the more your employees will feel excited about participating. The most important part is to make remote work seamless, enjoyable, and fun. 

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