So what are virtual employee engagement activities in the world today? Without a doubt, a must. Given the current status of events in the last years, companies have had to adapt to a new way of conducting business. For most of them, the work-from-home lifestyle was an option they had no choice but to embrace. According to Global Workplace Analytics, the number of people who work from home has increased by 140% since 2005. Since remote work and virtual teams seem to be the norm now, new methods and techniques regarding virtual employee engagement activities also have to make an impact on a recently modified working scene.
But let me explain things from a different angle: why do we need virtual employee engagement activities? Why not simply rely on some basic benefits that usually come in the form of monetary compensation? We tend to believe that money will solve most problems, but when it comes to your team, social recognition, effective communication, and team building skills count for much more towards improving engagement rates.
So how can you engage remote workers? There is, without a doubt, an equal responsibility between the employee and employer to ensure engagement. Efforts must be conducted on both sides. Such a way to do that would be, for instance, making sure you communicate frequently and adequately. Answering calls and emails promptly and efficiently is a great way to achieve your goal. During a meeting, make sure your camera is turned on at all times. Conduct catch-up-type conversations to open your daily meetings. The options are quite varied and incredibly useful to get you started. But there is a catch…
Although effective, these tips only go halfway. They are some basic ways to set up a quality virtual working environment but don’t offer too much in terms of actually increasing engagement rates and productivity amongst staff members. There are, however, some great virtual employee engagement activities that could do that for you. Below we listed a few that will surely get your team more committed and interested in their job than ever before.
1. Online Games
Are things a little bit stressful for your team lately? Is the workload overwhelming and the pressure increasing? Or simply things are too boring and laid-back for everyone to put in as much effort as they did before? Fear not, as each of these issues can be solved with some simple and entertaining tricks. And yes, I am talking about online office games. They are an incredibly fun way to boost morale and engagement in your remote team. Just invite your co-workers to play a series of exciting activities based on their liking. You can do quizzes, murder mystery games, or play some trivia. Nothing is off the table when it comes to this amazing activity.
2. Virtual Icebreaker Questions
Nothing says engagement and attachment towards the workplace than an environment where co-workers know and respect one another. But how can you achieve that? Obviously enough, through proper communication. In order to strengthen the relationships within your team, you need to make space for conversation. Moreover, that conversation needs to head toward people opening up about themselves to a certain level. And there is no better way to achieve that than through icebreaker questions. They are a key factor in getting people to know each other better. When you have another meeting, instead of opening things up with basic greetings, try some questions instead. You will be surprised by how effective they can be in increasing the relationship-building process.
3. Virtual Hackathon
If you are part of the tech industry, then you are probably familiar with this concept. Hackathons are sprint-like events in which software developers collaborate on various projects under a limited period of time. This type of activity can be easily set up in a virtual environment. Simply choose a theme or you can even make your team develop a solution to an already existing company problem. This way you can internalize the event and customize it to your needs. Also, you don’t need to refrain from including people that are not specialized in IT. Make room for employees with a general skill set, not just the tech-savvy ones. Include people from various departments and push them to solve problems together. Afterward, set a time and let the virtual hackathon begin. Teams will have to come up with the best solutions possible and you can even bring some prizes for the winners.
4. Company Yearbook
A great and probably underrated way to keep a sense of cohesiveness within your workplace is to bring people together and actually display it in some way. And there is probably no better way to do that than with a company yearbook. You can publish it yearly and organize it by the department. You can add a photo of each employee plus different pictures showcasing important events or team activities done throughout the year. You can include employee appreciation notes and maybe even a thoughtful message from leadership. This is a great way to facilitate a sort of community-type feeling within your company, thus enabling people to feel more at home at their job.
5. Monthly Workshops
Probably one of the best ways to increase virtual employee engagement is by offering your staff the opportunity to learn something new. In that sense, organizing workshops centered around various subjects would be a great way to do just that. You can have a workshop on sustainable living and employ the lessons learned in the workplace. Or perhaps instruct people on how to propagate plants and grow their own garden. From that, you can even build your own community garden when everybody returns to the office. People love it when they have the opportunity to increase their knowledge-based horizons. Giving employees a chance to harness some tips and tricks to improve their learning curve is always a great asset in boosting productivity. They will feel valued and appreciated in the workplace and will be keener on putting in some extra effort.
6. Home Tours
I know what you may be thinking but wait, don’t skip this one! Even though your employees might not be completely comfortable with this idea, you may still want to make the suggestion. Why? Because home tours can offer a special glimpse into somebody’s life. It’s a personal way to get to know your co-workers better. You can restrict this activity to your team members. It’s a good way to connect with them and boost your team-building levels. In one of your daily meetings, ask the participants to maybe take a walk around the room, share some stories about how it came to be and if they feel comfortable enough, they can even give a tour of their house or apartment. You would be surprised to see that this one of the most underrated yet interesting virtual employee engagement activities out there, as it helps a lot when it comes to invigorating the existing relationships in your team.
Leading on from the previous suggestion, if you find a home tour a bit excessive as a remote employee engagement activity, you can incorporate that concept into a different approach. Instead of asking your team to share such a huge aspect of their personal lives ( their house ), simply restrict that to something smaller, like an object. You can schedule a show-and-tell meeting and ask them to reveal a private and important object and talk about the story behind it. Whether it is a medal they won in a competition in college or an old antique they’ve inherited from a deceased loved one, it is important to take into account that the information should be personal so that everybody can get to know each other better.
8. Escape Room Challenge
The Escape Room Challenge is a great way to bring about some much-needed entertainment within your team. This amusing game can be played over any audio-video platform such as Zoom or Google Meet. All you need to do is log in and choose a host that can guide you through the experience provided on the digital dashboard. Together with your team, you will be able to solve puzzles and complete your tasks. This activity is perfect for improving communication and cooperation as well as enhancing your capability to think logically and strategically.
9. Never Have I Ever
This one is a classic. Many people have played “Never Have I Ever” in college at least once. It is a great way to bring some laughter in the room, or in this case “the virtual room” while getting to know the players at the same time. You can have a separate session of questions and wine or introduce this topic at the beginning of your next work-related meeting. Either way, make sure the questions are ingenious so that people won’t lose interest. You can even slip in some R-rated ones to spice things up. And if things are happening outside working hours, bring in the alcohol, and every time somebody gets a question right, they have to take a sip of the alcoholic beverage of their choice. This will surely get people in a good mood and it’s an entertaining way to end your work week.
10. Employee Virtual Dinner
Probably one of the best things about going to the office is the social aspect of it all. Catching up with your co-workers on your daily life, swapping jokes, and discussing the latest news. Unfortunately, remote working is silently stealing that important part of your career. However, there is something you can do to minimize the damage. Depending on your team’s schedule, you can organize a virtual dinner with everybody maybe once in two weeks. Have your team members cook something for themselves, perhaps open a bottle of wine and eat together via a Zoom call. You can suggest some icebreaker questions for virtual meetings to keep the conversation going or play some games to light up the mood. Having this time together with your peers is an important aspect that shouldn’t be overlooked especially when it comes to engaging remote employees and making them feel like they are still part of the community.
11. Virtual Book Club
Book lovers everywhere, it’s time to unite! Starting a book club for your employees is an ingenious idea that will not only offer them a safe space to share their hobby but actually encourage others to invest more time into building a new skill. This is an amazing opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals, share your love of stories, and swap opinions on the latest book you’ve read together. You can start easy, with a simple article or even an introduction to a book, and then move over to novels and maybe even poetry. The titles can range from something useful like personal development type books to comics, or if you can manage, simply stick to the classics. The goal is for the material to be either short enough, in case time is an issue, or entertaining enough for others to join the club. Don’t know where to start? James Clear, the author of the best-selling novel “Atomic Habits” compiled a list of best books to read in a lifetime. Just pick one that suits your liking and start reading.
12. Craft Challenge
One surprisingly fun activity to try with your remote employees is a DIY craft challenge. It’s a fun way to boost creativity and set a positive mood amongst your peers. Simply gather everybody, and decide on something to build from scratch. You can turn it into a competition with everyone assembling the same thing under a time limit, or you can have a laid-back session in which members will each decide on their own objects to put together. You can put your artsy skills to the test and paint a white T-shirt, make jewelry, assemble a bullet journal or even cook a unique dish. Whatever stirs your fancy. In the end, the goal isn’t to build something worth displaying somewhere, but to spark your creativity, put your imagination to the test and get your hands dirty for a change.
And here we have it! Some useful and entertaining virtual employee engagement activities to organize with your co-workers. They are a great way to get you started in managing your team remotely while making sure your productivity levels are as high as they can be. It will require a bit of ingenuity and effort to organize such events or exercises, but they are a must if you want to maintain team engagement. As a manager just make sure you stay positive and display a sense of discipline through these challenges so you are sure to reap the fruits of your labor afterward.