Business,  Career Advice,  ChampLeaders Boot Camp,  Leadership

Team Engagement Ideas for Virtual Teams

Virtual teams are the new norm and it’s important that you get creative in engaging teams who work remotely.

Work from home jobs have increased dramatically and it keeps increasing in the last couple of years.

This new mode of delivering work is pushing companies to get creative in employee engagement and team engagement.

Here are some stats about work from home.

The number of employers offering a work from home option has grown by 40% in the past 5 years
The number of regular telecommuting employees (excluding the self-employed population) has grown by 115% since 2005.
Employers offering at least part-time telecommuting flexibility collectively save $44 billion each year.

As a work from home employee for the past 2 years, I can say that engagement is an opportunity.  There is equal responsibility between the remote worker and the remote worker’s manager to own engagement.

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Here are career tips to keep engagement for the work from home employee:

1. Communicate Frequently

The more you communicate, the more that your “presence” is felt. Do your best to response to emails and calls immediately.

While you can’t man your email and phone 24/7, make sure that you also send proper expectation through your calendar that you are unavailable.

Block focus time so you can do your work and be productive.

This is important in keeping engagement up so not only do you feel connected with what’s going on but also not feel isolated since you are not in the office.

2. Use your laptop camera often

Go on video calls instead of just dialing in. This helps in making you feel engaged with your colleagues and manager.

Also, it’s great to see them through video and get a feel of your home office. My co-workers and I take advantage of this as often as we can, and it has helped keep all of our engagement up and we look forward to our next face to face meetings

As I mentioned in this post, managers of work from home workers also share the responsibility of team engagement and so it’s important that the managers also make efforts to keep the team engaged.

Here are some tips for work from home managers or supervisors.

1. Roll Out Team Engagement Activities regularly

Take the time to plan team engagement activities for your team not just for the onsite teams but also for the teams working remotely.

Here are some ideas:    

Virtual Theme Days

  • Schedule a theme day where all the teams can dress up and be silly for the meeting.
  • Theme Day Ideas    
  • Silly Hat Day
  • 80s Head Band
  • Hoodie Day
  • Margarita Day – best do this on Fridays
  • Color days – Follow the rainbow colors and assign one day of the week per color

Coffee Huddle Days

  • For your daily morning huddle, encourage everyone to bring in coffee in their favorite mugs

Virtual BINGO

  • Prepare bingo cards for all. Take a picture of Bingo Cards and send one unique bingo card per team member
  • Send the Bingo numbers over email.
  • Keep the master file of the bingo numbers and send it midday so that the team can catch up.
  • First person to email the card following the pattern wins
  • Alternative approach

  • Go on video conference
  • Have everyone turn on their cameras
  • Have them print the bingo card
  • Share the Masterfile on your screen and the pattern for the Bingo round
  • Cross out the numbers LIVE as you pick the number
  • First person to complete the pattern and show the bingo card wins
  • Weekly Friday Round Up

  • This is a chance for your team to catch up at the end of the week. You can make it into  a theme day so the team can look forward to it and dress up silly.
  • Dessert Party

  • Designate one of your Friday round up huddles to have the team share their favorite dessert.
  • Virtual Charades

  • Group the team in 2 and play charades. Give the team 5 minutes to prep on their own and jump back into the video conference. 
  • Quiz party

  • Round  a list of questions for a quiz party
  • Have the team answer the questions and make it a contest between the team to make it more fun
  • Pictionary

  • Group the team into 2 and play Pictionary. Use the pen feature of Webex or GTM so everyone can see the drawing.
  • Dog Play Date

  • Show off each other’s pooches to the team. This is a guaranteed pick me upper
  • Karaoke Party

  • Pick songs from the 80s, 90s or early 2000s.
  • Have the team name the song as team members sing it.

  • 2. Conduct catch ups with your Work From Home team members

    It’s so easy to get caught up in different things in the office and deliverable left and right but through it all, make sure that you prioritize catch ups with your work from home team.

    One-on-ones seem so rigid and formal so make it a habit to have a once a week touch base.

    Apart from talking about status of actions and up coming priorities, go ahead and ask how they are feeling. Ask if they are feeling supported and if there is anything that you can do for them.

    As the manager, you are responsible for the overall engagement of your team. This includes their productivity and their well-being.

    Remote workers tend to feel left out and removed from the daily grinds in the office. Do your best to make them feel welcome and still be part of the team even if they are not physically in the office.

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    3. Recognize Top Performers

    While recognizing top performers should be done regardless of where the work was delivered (remote or onsite), it’s still a great initiative to engaged remote team members.

    Do a weekly top performer email that includes the picture and the stats of the person being recognized.

    I suggest that you don’t distinguish remote/onsite in these emails so that the team doesn’t compare between work from home and onsite performance.

    The point is to recognize performers and encourage healthy competition within the team.

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    These are simple tips to get you started in being an engaged employee or keeping your team engaged as you start to manage employees who work from home.

    It will require a little bit of creativity, discipline and effort but it is doable to keep team engagement up for the team. Your leadership strategy may be different and will require you to try a different approach as you manage a blended team.

    Stay positive and work through the challenges. Remember that your effort as the leader will pull through as you keep both teams engaged.

    There you have it folks! Whether you are a work from home employee or a manager of work from home employees, I hope you were able to get team engagement ideas that will help you navigate this work approach in your careers.

    Let me know if you have questions on team engagement. Email me at [email protected] or at the Contact Us page.

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    About Daisy Casio

    Daisy is the creator of ChampLeaders. She has a husband, a toddler, a passion for coffee, travel and love for learning something new everyday. She writes about leadership, motivation, career tips and many more. Daisy hopes to share her mantra on being positive and living your best self now.

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