Some people have now been working from home for almost six months which is something we never thought would happen as we cheered in the new year. Some employees have totally embraced working from home and others, not so much. Remote working can make you feel lonely, disconnected and unmotivated at times which unsurprisingly can lead to disengaged employees.

We’ve spoken before about employee engagement and the positive impact it can have and with many businesses struggling at the moment, it’s more important than ever to ensure your employees are engaged. Unfortunately, if your employees were already disengaged before lockdown then working from home will only have amplified that!

Keep in touch

Communication is always going to be one of the biggest challenges for businesses when they have staff working from home. However, it’s such an important element of employee engagement, you need to make the effort to keep on top of it. Use programs like Teams, Zoom and Slack to run daily or weekly department chats or meetings to keep in touch with everyone. Just picking up the phone instead of emailing someone can improve communication and get a proper conversation going! You might even want to send around some ‘get to know me’ questions on a Friday afternoon if things are quiet as a bit of fun and to encourage conversation without it feeling forced or like small talk!

Don’t stop with the team building activities

Everyone and their mum has participated in a Zoom quiz over lockdown and although we’d all had enough of them at one point, they are a great way of keeping employees engaged. Take it in turns to organise a quiz or explore the hundreds of online games out there and find something that works for you.

Introduce virtual coffee breaks

When working in the office, it’s the norm to have a chit chat whilst having a coffee or queuing in the canteen and gives employees a much needed five minute break from their work. Obviously, this isn’t really possible when working from home so why not introduce virtual coffee breaks? It’s a great way to break up busy days at home by having a five minute video call to grab a coffee and talk about that TV series you watch or the incredible pasta dish you made for dinner!

Ensure they have work to do

Naturally, if someone hasn’t got much on their plate, they’re going to get distracted and feel totally disengaged with their workload and employer. Make sure everyone is clear on what work they have to complete and the deadlines. You should also ask them if they’re comfortable with the amount of work they have or whether they need more/less as it can be difficult to track when people aren’t in the office.

Encourage personal/career development

This follows on perfectly from the previous point. If people have light workloads or are looking for something to do, encouraging them to take on an educational course and expand their knowledge is a no brainer. It’s better than them aimlessly scrolling through LinkedIn, right? There are plenty of free resources for personal and career development courses including Google Digital GarageHubspot Academy and Salesforce’s learning experience platform, Trailhead. Alternatively, a member of staff could conduct online training based on different skills or how to use your recruitment software effectively.

Recognise people’s achievements

When an office-load of people are working from home, it’s easy for things to go unnoticed. Whether it’s Lauren’s 10-year work anniversary, Alex has brought on a big client or maybe James’ blog post hit 2,000 views, make sure you celebrate it and let everyone know. Not only will it improve employee engagement but it will really boost staff morale!

Show them you care

Everyone loves to know that people care about them so make sure it’s one of your priorities to regularly call your employees and check in on them. Find out how they’re doing and if they need any more support from you as working from home can put a lot of pressure on people who struggle with their personal lives. Encouraging them to make the most of their lunch break by getting outside or doing some exercise can do wonders for their mental health too. It’s also a good idea to ask them for feedback on how you could improve their experience working remotely!

For the sake of your staff’s productivity, morale and sanity, it’s essential that you dedicate resources and time to improving or at least, maintaining employee engagement. It’s not something to ignore and you’ll see the effect disengaged employees have on a business soon enough if you don’t make the effort!