How Can We Keep Employees Engaged During the Work-From-Home Lockdown?

Keeping employees engaged and motivated isn’t always easy, even when they’re in the office, but when your team works from home it means you need to think a little more creatively to ensure they’re happy and engaged.

As we all try to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, it’s largely technology that’s helping us to stay connected and involved, on both a personal and a professional level. Technology can play a huge role in generating employee engagement when your workforce is remote and here are just a few examples:

Put in place an effective work-from-home strategy

Effective internal communication is key to keeping employees engaged whilst they’re working from home. Ensure you have a plan in place which the entire team can be made familiar with, as this is the only way to guarantee engagement. Platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams enable ‘in person’ collaboration and involvement, albeit from a computer screen at home, offering flexibility for companies and their staff through instant messaging and video conferences.

As well as using these platforms for work meetings, team discussions and to ask questions, you and your employees can also enjoy social events and entertainment such as virtual Friday drinks and online quizzes. 

A good work-from-home strategy should engender trust and encourage co-operation between your employees, whilst also enabling and recognising great work. It should follow a structure and plan, which can add some routine into your employees’ working week.

Communicate regularly

Good communication is typically one of the biggest challenges for employers of home workers, but it’s a key element in preventing feelings of isolation. Whether communication with individuals and teams takes place over video link, instant messaging, or ‘traditional’ phone calls, keeping in regular contact demonstrates a caring company culture. Schedule regular meetings to stay in contact and keep in touch; it will boost both employee’s mental wellbeing and productivity.

Organise online social events

Zoom quizzes have become something of a phenomenon since lockdown started. It’s not difficult to understand why as they provide a welcome distraction from the world’s problems.

Similar to pub quizzes, you could play competitively in small teams or as individuals, building camaraderie and enjoying a little friendly rivalry between colleagues. It’s a great way to bring the team together and spread some much needed joy.

Virtual drinks

Friday drinks is a much-loved work social UK-wide, and you can simulate this online by gathering everyone together via video call. This type of social event is the perfect time for office “water cooler” conversation, and helps to signal the end of the working week – an important aspect of working from home when it can be difficult to separate work life from home life.

Consider each employee’s home office environment

It’s important to make sure employees are comfortable when they’re working from home, in terms of their home office set-up but also ensuring they take regular tea/coffee and lunch breaks. Without colleagues to chat to at lunchtime, it’s easy for employees to continue to work solidly through the working day, which can lead to developing mental or physical health problems as a result. Ensure your management team are encouraging employees to establish a routine and take care of themselves whilst working remotely.

High quality office furniture and supplies, such as ergonomic keyboards and office chairs, wrist rests, or simply good quality stationery, shows you value your employees and take your duty of care seriously as an employer.  

Encourage personal and professional development

Facilitating career and personal development via e-learning platforms is a great way to motivate and increase employee engagement. It can help your team to feel motivated and provides an excellent change to upskill employees before they return to work; setting you up to compete in a more ferocious market. Peer-to-peer learning via video calls can consolidate learning and allow employees to put newfound knowledge into practice whilst being mentored remotely, teamwork is a brilliant form of motivation.

Recognise and reward

Using cloud-based HR tools and resources to officially recognise and reward employees for good work is a powerful way to boost engagement within the workforce. It can be overlooked in the work-from-home scenario, but its importance is even greater in this context as it’s so easy for employees to feel unappreciated simply due to a lack of contact. Celebrate even the smallest of wins and show your gratitude for hard work. Remember your employees aren’t only working remotely but working through a pandemic which is a worrying time for all, so any positivity will be well received.

Why employee engagement is so important when working from home

Employee engagement is a crucial element in creating a healthy and enjoyable working environment, and can significantly boost productivity for companies. It can also help to improve your retention rates and reduce staff turnover, which will have positive reflections on your employer brand.

Businesses where the culture is inclusive, rewarding, and committed to supporting employees working from home, can benefit greatly, allowing them to develop a loyal and conscientious workforce which improves company culture.

In fact, stable businesses with engaged and happy employees are exactly what we need during these difficult times and may become the foundation on which we build a new and stronger economy.    

Keith Tully is a partner at Real Business Rescue, a business recovery expert specialising in negotiating Time to Pay Arrangements for businesses struggling to pay tax liabilities to HMRC.