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How to engage remote employees

With teams adapting to online work, it can be difficult to know how to engage remote employees. As experts on the subject, we wanted to share some tips to engage your team with online training and social interactions virtually!

25 Apr 2020 by Rocco Brudno

Learning how to engage remote employees is a great way to boost productivity. It’s also a great way to build stronger relationships with your team. Both are essential to developing a strong team in-office or remote. But where to start?

Our team at Coassemble is scattered across five time zones and two continents, so we know a couple of things about team engagement. By building a strong and interactive online training program and providing social interactions, you can improve your remote employees’ engagement! We’ve detailed exactly what you need to get started below, so get ready to learn in 3, 2, 1...

How to engage remote employees through online training

Though a variety of factors can contribute to remote employee online training engagement, we think there are a few easy picks.

  • Blended learning or microlearning over simple training lessons.
  • Incentivizing online training through validation.
  • Offering remote coworking.
  • Creating a virtual book club (can be used for podcasts, videos, etc).

Let’s take a look at how to engage remote employees with each of these tips.

Blended learning or microlearning

Blended learning is traditionally a hybrid training method of in-person activities with online training components. For remote teams, the physical aspect can be replaced by creating real-time moments such as webinars and video calls. These allow you to have the visual/audio aspect of in-person training followed up with online courses. Our CEO Ryan Macpherson wrote a quick brief on the benefits of blended learning beyond what we’ve listed here.

Microlearning is taking larger training lessons and breaking them down into smaller pieces. We already rely on technology to bolster our short attention spans. Microlearning leverages how our brain’s attention is focused and creates a more fulfilling learning experience. Microlearning is also significantly easier to develop when you’re utilizing module templates. Simply select a module template and add the microlearning content. Check out our full guide on how to create an online course to learn more!

How to incentivize online training

It’s no surprise that incentivizing online training success is a driving factor in how online training results are met. By praising team members for a job well done, the result of their training dramatically improves. Whether you utilize the power of our new Celebrate Learning feature to deliver certificates and a confetti pop or you send teammates physical trophies, a little praise goes a long way. If you have a weekly catch up call with your team, mentioning team wins based on training goals can incentivize future training courses.

We’ve also found that putting an emphasis on the design of your training content can improve training engagement. Remote teams already have distractions abound from the online tools they need to access in place of physical resources. Making learning fun and challenging can keep teams sharp and engaged with their online training.

Remote coworking and virtual offices

Though it might seem silly, having your team working together in a virtual call can actually improve remote team engagement. By providing a way to use a “virtual office” or remote coworking space, your team can still work together. A great way to set this up is if you use slack or another video conferencing tool.

Start by scheduling a meeting time with a video link or a slack channel for this purpose. Then, whoever is first online can start the call and your team can pop in and out. Even if no one is talking, it provides a sense of connection by knowing teammates are right there with you. This can also help for teams that have a lot of collaborative projects that need rapid responses to questions. Give it a try and see what your team thinks!

💡 Pro tip: If you still figuring out what are the best tools for working remotely, look no further! This comprehensive list gives you everything you need to start engaging your remote team.

How to engage remote employees with virtual hangouts

As work can encompass up to a third (or more) of our lives, the social aspects can affect performance. Whether it’s chatting at the watercooler, lunches, or hitting the lounge after work, we socialize with our teams a lot. To ensure remote teams still get the same level of engagement socially, a little creativity is required. Our favorite remote team-building exercises are:

  • Creating a virtual water cooler.
  • Hosting virtual happy hours and parties.
  • Scheduling a monthly virtual book club.

See how each works in detail below!

Virtual water cooler

Whether through a slack channel or a constantly running video call, creating time for people to chat is crucial. A great way to provide this is by scheduling a recurring video call or setting up a chat channel. For the virtual call, schedule it before and after lunch so your team has options for when to join. Make it clear to your team it’s not mandatory to join but always there if they need it. You’ll be surprised by the activity in it after you set it up.

For a chat channel, set guidelines for how people should chat that match your other communication policies. This can be a fun place for remote teams to catch up, share pictures of their hobbies, children, or pets. It can also be a fun place to foster stronger relationships with your team. Play around and see what works best for your team.

You can also use virtual tools like Slack integration, Donut Buddy, to get virtual meet-ups going. The app randomly selects pairings from your team to meet up for lunch or coffee and chat. This is especially handy if your team is too large to all meet at once.

💡 Pro tip: If you want to see all the benefits of offering social activities to your remote team, check out our article on how to manage a team working remotely. We dive into the psychological impact social interactions can have on remote teams.

Hosting virtual happy hours and parties

Hunting down the right activities to engage remote employees can be difficult at first. But one theme has been popping up recently. Whether you want to send your team custom cocktail kits or have everyone pop in with their favorite beverage, virtual happy hours have become all the rage.

These can be fun hangouts held outside of working hours for your remote team. Everyone can talk about what’s on their minds, current interests, or a special theme. The best part is that there’s no end to the fun.

This article by Forbes recommends if you have a lot of people to set a decorum so everyone has fun. If you don’t want to do alcohol, you can always have an early day coffee and tea chat as well! Or have a late-night virtual fireside chat, complete with s’mores kits! Think about what your remote team will enjoy and schedule some fun gatherings outside of work.

How to schedule a virtual book club

Whether for work or personal reasons, a book club is a great way to train as a team. We like monthly virtual book clubs with one work and one non-work text. That way you’re upskilling staff and creating a fun way for your team to keep sharp. Time put together a great list of ideas on how to start virtual book clubs to get started. The best is picking a theme for each book that’s relevant to your whole team.

Encouraging personal care

Our last tip on how to engage remote employees in encouraging personal care. This can be something fun like sending indoor plant kits or face-masks and candles. Really, you want to make sure your remote employees are taking care of themselves however they need to outside of work. You can even send them this 7 tips for working remotely article to give them some ideas to get started.

With a little practice, you’ll understand exactly how to engage remote employees on your team.

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