Blog Post

    Engagement in the face of pandemic: How to keep your newly remote team focussed during COVID-19

    As the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies across all industries are being forced to make the switch to remote-work scenarios.

    In some cases, these changes have happened overnight, with teams and departments thrown into chaos, unused to working in this new and unfamiliar way.

    While this team arrangement can be incredibly productive, it does present unique challenges in terms of employee engagement. Keeping a large team, spread across multiple geographic locations, engaged with their work can be similar to hearding kittens.

    But we're here to help with 5 manager-approved strategies to help you stay ahead of the curve:

    1 Start talking


    One of the most straightforward ways to avoid alienating your team members is to clearly outline expectations from the start. For example:

    • When should they available and on what medium (phone, email, Slack)?

    • Which meetings are mandatory?

    • What should each member contribute to these meetings?

    It sounds simple, but managers often forget that greater distance means a greater risk of expectations getting lost in translation. Combat this with extra communication and transparency.

    2 Prioritize that inbox

    One Canadian study found that employees spend an average of 17 hours per week managing their inboxes at work and home. A full 30% of that time involves emails that aren’t important or urgent.

    Enable your remote team members to focus on working rather than reaching inbox zero—implement a “necessary emails only” policy, allow team members to only check and respond to email at designated times of the day, and/or encourage other communication such as phone calls instead.

    3 Get connected

    When each employee is doing his or her own thing remotely, a cohesive group identity rarely happens organically.

    Carve out some time each week to devote to fun team-building activities such as coworker recognitions or group video games (workplace appropriate ones, of course).

    4 Build a digital water cooler

    Can’t congregate at a physical water cooler? That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the interpersonal experience! Create a virtual water cooler by hosting quick team pow-wows every morning or once a week, where everyone shares something about their lives—what television show they can’t get enough of or their latest foodie discovery, for instance.


    Create an online “front page” where employees can leave shout outs or updates for the group, and make it the first thing everyone sees when they log into your central project management dashboard for the day.

    5 Recognize and reward

    One of the best things that you can do to engage team members - whether they are remote or work right down the hall - is to appreciate their contributions and wins.

    Research and common sense both demonstrate that when employees feel valued, they are more engaged.

    Dealing with complex employment scenarios due to COVID-19?

    Try our 2-part guide for actions you can take today to support on-hold employees, handle redundancies with respect, and bring your employees back-on-board at the conclusion.
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    Topics: HR
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