Working from home can be isolating, especially if you work in a company filled with people you don’t see very often. This isolation can lead to growing frustrations or even resentment among team members. You need to make sure your WFH team members are engaged and productive, or else they risk feeling ostracized and unappreciated. They might even start to dread coming into work every day! Working from home is also a huge adjustment for most people, especially if they are new parents or just moved to a new city where they don’t know many people yet. To help keep the team connected and happy while maintaining productivity, we implemented several team engagement activities that made all the difference. Here are my top five favorites:
One of the easiest ways to stay in touch and build team cohesion is with regular team meetings. Make sure to include all team members, not just those who work in the office. You can use Zoom or any other video conferencing platform to keep in touch. This can be especially helpful for people who are in different time zones. Depending on the team size and the type of work you do, meeting types can vary. You can have general team meetings once a week or specific topic-oriented meetings. We even had quarterly town hall meetings where key company executives spoke about where the company was headed and what was expected of the team. Even though you aren’t in the office together, team meetings are a great way to stay connected, share ideas, and provide support for one another.
Morning walks or runs
If you have a large team, morning walks or runs are a great way to get everyone together, even if only virtually. Let everyone know to log in to a private channel on Slack to start the walk/run at the same time. You might even want to assign different routes for people depending on where they live or work. You can also assign one or two people to be the “runners” and host the “walkers” or “runners” in a different channel. This way, you can still ask questions or have a general conversation while moving, and the other channel members won’t have to listen in on the conversation. Let everyone know that they don’t have to be super athletic to join in. Even walking at a slow pace while being in touch with your team members is better than nothing.
Company-wide lunch dates
If your team members all live in different cities or states, you might want to consider scheduling regular lunch dates for everyone. This can be especially helpful for new parents who don’t have many opportunities to get out of the house and meet new people. Let everyone know the dates and times you plan to meet up, and encourage everyone to bring a friend. You can even rotate between different locations so everyone gets a chance to experience the different lunch places in their area. This is also a great way to get to know your team members and learn about what makes them tick, what their interests and goals are. This can also be helpful for building stronger relationships and helping teammates feel more connected to each other and the company overall.
Private Slack channels
Slack is a powerful tool for remote teams to stay in touch and collaborate on projects. You can set up various channels to discuss various team-related topics. Each channel can be viewed by a subset of the team, so only those who need to see what’s in the channel are “in” on the conversation. For example, you can create a channel for each team member to discuss what they are working on, what challenges they are facing, and what support they need from their peers. Or, you can create a channel for the “juniors” on the team to ask questions and seek advice from the “seniors.” You can also set up channels for specific projects or initiatives. You can even create a “snack” channel where you and your team members can share funny GIFs or memes.
Organizational memory exercise
The best way to ensure your team members stay engaged and excited to work is to encourage them to grow and feel like they are contributing to the company. This is especially important if you have employees who are still fairly new to the company. You want to make sure they feel appreciated and that their contributions matter, especially if they don’t have much direct interaction with any senior members of your company. You can do this by encouraging regular one-on-one meetings between every team member and their manager. If you don’t have enough time to meet with everyone individually, you can still encourage team members to take time to reflect on their past year and make a list of their biggest accomplishments.
Working from home can be a great way to work and can help you achieve your personal and professional goals, but only if you have the right tools and routines in place to help you stay on track and engaged. You need to make sure you keep up with self-discipline and overcome the challenges of working from home, such as lack of routine, distractions, and social isolation. To make sure your WFH team members are engaged and productive, you need to help them stay on track and motivated despite the challenges. You need to help them develop good self-discipline, and you need to help them learn how to overcome the challenges that come with working from home. You need to help them find ways to stay productive, motivated, and engaged while working from home.