July 23, 2020 / Culture

Working From Home: How To Keep Employees Engaged

It’s safe to say we have all adjusted to this new way of life, in one way or another. When we all began working from home in March, the country as a whole was faced with the challenge of productively working, while separating from the background noise of our personal lives. Companies were faced with the task of keeping employees on track and engaged with “office desks” spread out across the county in people’s homes. In the beginning, we all found ourselves immersed in virtual quizzes every weekend or catching up with friends and family over weekly zoom calls, but this could only keep us entertained for so long. 

With time going by, and things slowly going back to normal, we are at an in-between phase. We are past the virtual quiz stage and progressing to seeing people face to face (socially distanced, of course). But still working from home, Monday through Friday, we all are running out of ways to stay engaged. Companies are seeking new, innovative ways to keep the workforce united, without the ability to socialise in the office. 

Here are a few ways we have found work for us. 

1. The Water Cooler Approach

Possibly the easiest way to keep spirits alive is touching base regularly and facilitating a random chat. For example, we here at Pluto have a “camera on” teams call every morning to keep the team connected. Our creative team has a weekly studio huddle with no agenda. A con we have taken from working from home is having that free space to bounce ideas off one another, and so these weekly huddles give us the opportunity to talk about anything and everything. 

Take time in team meetings to big up staff on their achievements – big or small. Our Account Manager, Maeve, has just launched her podcast and has received massive support from the whole company. Escaping from the typical work chat, and speaking about personal challenges is a great way to stay connected. Sticking to the typical conversations you would have with a colleague over lunch, or in the kitchen making your morning coffee is so important at a time like this. It is particularly crucial for those of us who might be living alone and missing the daily human interaction office-life brings. Celebrate the little things, as well as the big things, like birthdays, the painting of a living room, or a new puppy! 

2. Switch up the Virtual Events

As mentioned before, virtual quizzes had their time in the spotlight but that doesn’t mean we have to throw the whole concept of virtual gatherings out the window.

We are now at a point where social gatherings of 50 people indoors are acceptable, but many of us are not quite ready to take that step. FOMO has always been a struggle for people, but since the pandemic, fear of socializing has been amplified. Our feeds are flooded with constant COVID updates and more recently, people out and about for dinner and drinks – it’s hard to know how to feel. For this reason, companies must keep everyone’s concerns in mind. Organizing something for the team to do together over Zoom or Teams removes both the FOMO and the fear of socializing. Here are a few ideas!

This Virtual Cocktail Making Class 

Virtual Cocktail classes can be done a couple of ways:

  1. An e-Menu is designed, which includes a list of ingredients that each participant purchases during their weekly shop for the class that weekend. 
  2. Employees receive a cocktail making kit through the post. 

Employees are walked through the various steps of making the cocktail, which can be done by hiring a Mixologist or nominating someone on the team to lead. Cocktails can be easy and wouldn’t require extensive equipment or ingredients – keeping it lighthearted and fun for everyone to enjoy. For those who do not want to drink, mocktail options are always available too! 

Virtual Brunch

NYC style Brunches have taken Dublin by storm in recent years. Getting the glad rags on for a day of fun with your work friends with delicious food, amazing music, and even better company. Why not bring this same energy and fun to the homes of your employees.
All you have to do is design a delicious and easy Brunch menu with an ingredient list that is sent out to employees in advance. Depending on your preference, employees can dial into the call while cooking or set a time for the meal to be complete, and all employees dial in and sit down to enjoy their brunch together.

Spice it up by creating a Brunch Party playlist and have everyone bop to the same tunes while enjoying their Bellini’s.

Paint by the Pints

The virtual class where an Artist will guide employees through the chosen image while they all enjoy a refreshing drink from the comfort of their own homes. There are fantastic organisations, such as Paint by the Pints, who organise your painting kits/packs, as well as the artist! 

You don’t need to be Picasso to participate, you don’t even have to have ever picked up a paintbrush! The step by step process guarantees a piece of art by the end of the session. 

Bake-off

A great alternative is a virtual Bake-off. Four members of the team sign up to be a key baker, which consists of making an at-home video of themselves making their favourite recipe. Each week, one video is replicated by all the participants, and everyone shows off their creation via video call!

Not only do you all get together and have a chat, but you also have the bonus of eating treats at the same time. Let’s just hope you’ve followed those steps closely, and cooked that cake through! This is repeated for as many weeks as there are bakers, with everyone voting for the Star Baker at the end! Sounds delicious to us.

3. Recognising colleagues

Whether you’re working from home or the office, encouragement remains at the core of staff motivation. Consider setting up a weekly achievement system to celebrate employees who have gone above and beyond to close a big sale or who have supported the wider community during the past few months. 

Take time out of your morning meeting and highlight the achievement. For example, the Star Baker or the most creative painter receives a virtual gift card or a personalised message for participating and making the effort to be present at the virtual events! A little goes a long way.

 4. Up-skilling and re-skilling

We’ve all had a little extra time over the last few months. Take this time to talk to your staff, find out what areas they want to improve in, and help them find the right online course, or webinar to tune into. Give them the extra push of encouragement to take this time to improve their skills. Many e-learning platforms are currently offering free trials and free courses for people to avail of. Show your employees they are valued and you want to see them grow in the company – there has never been a better time. 

 

Conclusion

Staying positive can be hard during these times, but by creating a supportive and encouraging environment for your staff can be all the difference.