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Employee Recognition

​​The Ultimate Guide to Remote Employee Engagement in 2024: Real Examples and the Best Tools to Engage Remote Workers Globally

On-site working arrangements, in-office employees, in-person company retreats, social events, and spontaneous team lunches—these things are slowly becoming a thing of the past.

Now, it's all about virtual team building activities, web conferencing and video calls, online training courses, and different time zones; among many other things.

Remote work has become the new normal for so many of us. Regardless, this experience doesn’t have to be mundane or unproductive as there are countless ways to stay engaged even while working 100% remotely.

This ultimate guide is everything you need to keep your remote workforce engaged.

From an introduction of what remote engagement is all about to key insights on how you can keep engagement relevant and interesting for your remote workers, we’ve got you covered. (Click to jump to the respective sections:)

Established, well-rounded engagement programmes can benefit many aspects (arguably even every aspect) of your business.

Boosting engagement levels among staff members is even more important for remote work since remote employee engagement ensures they maintain the highest morale while working from home – away from the hustle and bustle of the office.

According to direct reports from Harvard Business Review, higher morale of engaged remote employees, in turn, leads to:

  • Greater productivity and efficiency while employees work from home
  • Infinite creativity for employees to produce unique business solutions remotely
  • Increased work satisfaction that boosts work retention rates across all employees

TLDR: Engaged workforces are more motivated to work harder and smarter with your company, even remotely.

Conversely, a lack of remote employee engagement has adverse effects on companies and their people.

From everyday issues like unmotivated and disconnected workers affecting overall work productivity to entrenched problems like employee disharmony and high turnover rates; extensive work hours, half-hearted, poorly implemented or non-existent remote employee engagement programmes are hence detrimental to companies.

To avoid these unpleasant consequences, remote engagement across teams must be prioritised.

How to keep your remote workforce engaged while working from home

Source: PraisePal

1. Show appreciation and recognition for remote workers through employee recognition tools

Learning about the importance of employee engagement is crucial, but so is knowing where and how to begin engaging your remote workers. Human resources leaders need to step up to the plate and come up with employee engagement ideas to keep remote workers motivated despite the distance.

Start by engaging your staff on a company-wide, macro-level scale. More specifically, provide an outlet that enables your entire company to give public recognition to each other through shared communication channels – even while working from home.

At the minimum, your team members will feel appreciated and acknowledged for the hard work they put in at your company.

For most businesses, this will be enough to sustain motivation and boost morale among remote workers. For others with deep-seated internal company problems, this placates employees overall and gives you time to seek more targeted solutions.

The easiest and most hassle-free way to support and engage remote employees is through an employee recognition tool like PraisePal.

To put it simply (and honestly because it’s that simple), you can set up a points-based system that allows you and your team members to publicly recognise and reward each other’s good work directly.

You can then supplement sweet but mostly inequivalent-in-effort ‘thank yous’ with actual rewards that your workers desire.

Don’t be surprised if the effects occur almost immediately. Among positive changes to overall employee experience, you will see:

  • Better employee engagement
  • Higher employee morale
  • Greater employee productivity
  • Maintain long-term employee engagement ideas and connections among remote employees
  • Build a virtual workspace for your team members to hang out

Just like customer loyalty, your people are likely to stay loyal to you and the company too.

If you can’t take our word about the effectiveness of public employee appreciation and recognition, take it from Laszlo Bock – the former Google HR Chief – that “simple, public recognition is one of the most effective and most underutilised management tools”.

Individuals in the workplace do their best when recognised. Make it happen every day, easily.

2. Prioritise open communication between employers and remote workers to increase engagement

While direct appreciation through PraisePal is the best way to grow your remote engagement efforts, it doesn’t hurt to supplement your engagement efforts.

A great way to increase job satisfaction and keep remote employees engaged is to prioritise open communication with employees.

Initially, you may choose to share department updates at monthly all-hands meetings. To keep remote employees connected and ensure that precious communication opportunities are not wasted, focus on key info that:

1. Directly impacts employees’ projects

2. Indirectly impacts employees’ career opportunities

3. Influences the company’s overall business trajectory

As the saying goes, ‘sharing is caring’.

This practice of updating employees on company issues enables employees to feel more intimately connected to their work even through a computer screen. This also eliminates all potential communication gaps across teams.

Taking the extra step, be sure to ask also for your employees’ insights about the sharings.

Not only does this ensure employees are clear about company happenings, to cease confusion at the get-go; more importantly, this enables your virtual team to realise that their perspectives are valued by their supervisors and other team members.

In other words, open communication ensures that each team member becomes engaged.

Best of all, even if remote work continues, this culture of sharing and communication will persist and continue to be a powerful tool for the entire team. The main benefit, of course, is that your people remain engaged in their work and in the company.

3. Measure employee engagement and satisfaction of team members even while working remotely

Beyond establishing communication channels, it is important to maintain frequent communication with remote teammates to ensure they stay engaged at work.

A proven way is to host (i.e. monthly) 1 to 1 virtual meetings or weekly check-ins.

For effective 1 on 1s with your remote employees, you should:

1. Be considerate with schedules by using remote team productivity tools

To make sure these 1:1 meetings are conducive and something your team looks forward to, the first step is to show that you’re mindful of their schedules. To account for busy schedules and complications in time zone differences, you can use scheduling productivity tools to arrange a good time for your 1:1s with your team.

Some of our favourite meeting schedule tools are Calendly, Acuity Scheduling, and Doodle.

2. Prepare discussion points in advance and document them

Don’t waste precious time during the meeting thinking up topics to discuss. As a form of respect for your and your employee’s busy schedules, prepare ahead by reflecting on what you wish to share with your employee.

If you want to provide feedback on your employee’s performance; consider both positive and negative elements of their performance and frame it in such a way that they are encouraged to learn from it.

Beyond just a feel-good conversation, having discussion and action points in writing helps your remote employees keep track of their progress and have a plan to further develop themselves.

If you do not have an existing productivity or project management tool for communication and documentation, you can start with a simple Google Doc or remote workspace tools like Notion, Asana, or Confluence.

3. Encourage remote employees to voice queries and concerns

Keeping remote workers engaged is also about listening to them. It’s easy to speak about and share success stories. However, we can save that for more public-facing meetings like the all-hands employees gatherings mentioned previously.

Instead, take the opportunity to encourage your employees to voice their queries, concerns and critiques about their work and the workplace.

In doing so, you can gain a qualitative understanding of their (dis)contentment, and strive towards resolving underlying issues affecting employee engagement and wellbeing.

4. Focus on developing more personal relationships with your remote workforce

Besides discussing work-related issues, you should take the initiative to express (genuine) interest in your employees' lives – such as their career aspirations, and provide both a listening ear and practical advice.

This will show them that you care about them on a personal level, enabling the building of trust and deepening of relationships with your employees even as you work remotely.

Ultimately, by demonstrating your desire to better understand your staff and their overall work satisfaction, you ensure they feel appreciated and engaged. This creates a non-judgmental and comfortable working environment of mutual trust, and a company culture that you and your engaged employees will benefit tremendously from.

4. Maintain long-term employee engagement and connection among your remote workforce

Having established a great system of remote employee engagement, be sure to also expand and nurture it for the long run.

In other words, ensure that you continue engaging your remote employees and building connections with them (i.e. past an initial period of an engagement).

We recommend that you hold regular (NOT annual) social events and team building activities related to your company – but which should not increase your employees’ workload and stress.

In particular, two virtual team bonding exercises that we’ve tried and love are:

1. Pitch to personas

Similar to a real-life pitch but way more fun!

Simply select a ridiculous product or idea that you think could never sell, split your remote colleagues into two teams and let one half pitch the product to the other. Watch as these pitches take out-of-box and almost unbelievable turns that bring laughter to your virtual meeting.

Most importantly, by the end of the pitches, your employees would have formed better relationships with each other.

An added merit is that your employees would have learned some interesting pitching ideas and techniques to apply to their own work projects.

Here, being engaged goes beyond ‘just being appreciated’. Instead, it shows that your company truly encourages your employees to grow in their careers, making them feel genuinely understood and respected.

2. Create (virtual) customer walls

Have your remote teams build mini reports about customers on virtual walls of project management tools like:

Instead of boring, formal reports that they see day-to-day, keep these enjoyable by including use cases, cool facts and interesting statistics that make them fun to read. The regular updates help employees know that their job makes a difference in people’s lives, and help employees feel more motivated to do better at work.

Each team can also come together at the end of work quarters to discuss what everyone now understands about their customers from the collated info.

These are great to help your remote employees learn new facets of your clients and by extension, gain fresh ideas to collaborate and handle work tasks and projects.

Similarly, these have the extra benefit of enabling your employees to realise that their talents are held in high esteem within the company, and to feel engaged in their work.

With these engagement strategies and more, you won’t have to worry about losing employee engagement even if remote work is prolonged.

Even better, you can be sure that these will allow you to truly connect with your employees instead of forming superficial and short-lived relationships.

So, give it a go and chances are, maintaining long-term employee engagement and connections through our suggested methods will be a pleasant surprise for you and your remote employees.

5. Build a virtual workspace for your remote team members to hang out

Remote employees are more likely to feel less engaged and connected to their teams and company, because of the lack of social elements and human connection.

We all know that nothing can replace physical interactions from watercooler conversations to friendly banter in the office, but a virtual workspace can do wonders in improving employee engagement for your remote workers and facilitating a team environment remotely.

Virtual workspaces allow your remote teams to work together digitally, with an online platform that provides you with your own office, virtually. A virtual workspace helps distributed teams work together and enables everyday work engagement remotely no matter your location. It helps your remote employees feel as if you are together even when you are apart, with features to support your team's mental health and wellbeing.

Some of our favourite digital workspaces to build remote workforce engagement through a virtual work environment are Teemyco, SpatialChat, and Filo.

Ultimately, high team morale and company productivity come from engaged employees and team members feeling recognised and appreciated at work.


Frequently Asked Questions About Remote Employee Engagement & Remote Work

Q1: What is remote employee engagement?

At its core, remote employee engagement is about ensuring work teams in organisations are recognised, rewarded and valued for doing a good job, even while remote working from home.

With the ongoing COVID-19 situation and progressive shifts towards flexible working arrangements, it’s natural that companies have increasingly subscribed to the work from on-site arrangements to a remote work model.

Even then, virtual employee engagement is key to keeping growing teams of remote employees and colleagues motivated to meet business performance standards while they work from home. The company should also create a remote work culture and process for the virtual workplace, which is key to engage the business workforce so that teams and employees feel connected to the organisation and company mission while working remotely.

Organisations and management who have a positive workforce culture of remote employee engagement will see an increase in collaboration between remote teams, even when communication and feedback are conducted via video conferencing.

Q2: Does remote working boost engagement?

Remote work may have a negative impact on employee experience, resulting in a decline in engagement and less productive employees, which ultimately impacts business performance.

The challenges for companies and management that come with remote work include the lack of a strong company culture between remote teams. The lack of a physical office means teams don't get to have physical social interactions with other employees and their management - which would've been a great way to build camaraderie.

In a physical office setting, employees can work on tasks as a team and get faster feedback. The office environment makes the experience more positive at the workplace, increases employee and team productivity, and creates business value.

This allows employees and teams to engage in water-cooler chats and one on one meetings on an ad-hoc basis to brainstorm ideas, and provide more opportunities for collaboration between employees and teams beyond just doing their regular work tasks and job.

However, companies can take advantage of remote employee engagement ideas and team activities, remote collaboration tools, as well as best practices to communicate and create a sustainable remote work culture to keep their remote teams and workforce engaged.

By having a management culture that's intentional to support employees while they develop a career while working remotely, employees will stay engaged knowing that their work is being recognised and they are valued by their team and organisation.

Q3: Is remote work good for employees?

With its obvious downsides, remote workers can be more productive.

In fact, a workplace survey shows that if companies can work away from the unique challenges of having no physical office and actual team meetings, they can create a conducive organisation culture and remote work environment to ensure employees are engaged and motivated to do a good job.

Such a business environment gives every team and employee an opportunity for collaboration, support, and open communication to share feedback and ideas on tasks between employees and as a team.

Q4: What should employers provide for remote workers?

When the business moves away from a physical environment, it's key for leaders to create a process which provides long term support to employees while they create their home office environment that doesn't compromise their performance and career development.

Some things that employers can provide for remote workers include:

A shift in mindset by organisation leaders

  • Move away from demanding that employees remain at their work desk during the entire 8-hour workday, and be available at the snap of a finger.
  • Recognise team members on special occasions such as work anniversaries and key milestones.
  • This can increase workplace stress and mental distress for employees, especially if they have other personal responsibilities and family members to take care of at home.

Support from companies to create a conducive work from home environment

  • Provide home office equipment so that employees can continue to do their job as per normal, and take meetings with their team while video conferencing while all employees work from home.
  • This can be in the form of expense allowances or provisioning for employees to be able to take home some of their office equipment such as monitor screens and office chairs.

Implementing virtual workplace productivity tools

  • Adapting remote collaboration and communication tools to replace key physical meetings, such as career development support via video calls and team check-ins.
  • In this fun way, it helps employees to ease into remote work better, with less stress about the lack of physical interactions at work withholding their career goals or preventing them from meeting performance standards at their job.

Q5. How does constant engagement and recognition support remote employees?

Even while working in a team, remote employees lack the physical support and connection that one would get from traditional in-person working environments. Through a culture of recognition, each team member can stay connected through technology despite the distance.

Q6. As a leader, how can I increase engagement for new joiners and employees?

Being a new joiner in a remote team is an incredibly unique challenge for both the employee's and the employer's end. Unlike physical work arrangements, HR managers can easily read one's body language to see if they're feeling comfortable on their first day or still getting settled in.

Here are some unique ways to build virtual employee engagement from anywhere in the world:

  • Give new staff members virtual tours of the physical headquarters.
  • Regular video calls with the rest of the department during the first few weeks to get to know the team.
  • Send new joiners a thoughtful note and a company swag pack to formally welcome them to the team.
  • Build healthy habits through a culture of recognition and trust among leaders and their direct reports.
  • Consider providing access to mental and physical health resources to further support new employees.

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