Work isn't just about tasks and deadlines. It’s also about learning, bonding, and making memories together — even when you’re all miles apart.
Even when remote teams don’t have the opportunity to interact face-to-face on a daily basis, they can still be engaged and motivated team members.
There are plenty of ways you can foster engagement among your remote workforce. From virtual team building activities to mentorship programs, these twenty virtual employee engagement ideas can help your staff remain connected and productive.
- Virtual Happy Hours
Organizing virtual happy hours encourages casual interaction among employees. These are non-work related virtual meet-ups where people can share a drink, discuss hobbies, share jokes, or just chat about their day. It's a wonderful way to unwind after work and helps to strengthen bonds among remote teams.
- Online Workshops and Classes
You can offer various online workshops or classes that help employees learn new skills or nurture existing ones. These could range from painting classes, cooking demonstrations, coding seminars, or foreign language lessons. Not only does this facilitate continuous learning, but it also allows employees to share their skills and passions with the team.
- Remote Team Challenges
Challenges like fitness contests, photo competitions, or coding races can boost team spirit and foster a healthy sense of competition. They can be designed to fit any team's interest and can help employees feel more connected despite working from different locations.
- Weekly Show and Tell
A show and tell session can be a fun and creative way for employees to share more about themselves and their personal lives. Each week, a different team member can showcase a favorite hobby, introduce a pet, or share a recent project they've been spending time on outside of work.
- Culture Swap
Culture swap activities give employees a chance to share unique aspects of their culture or local traditions. This could involve sharing recipes from their home country, teaching some words in their native language, or showcasing local music or dance. Such activities encourage inclusivity while making employees feel valued for their individuality.
- Virtual Game Nights
Virtual game nights can be organized where teams participate in online multiplayer games, guessing games, or trivia contests. These types of activities aid in team bonding and help to build problem-solving skills. For example, virtual escape rooms involve teams working together to solve puzzles, find clues, and complete challenges.
- Home Office Show-off
By allowing employees to give virtual tours of their home offices, companies can encourage a sense of pride in their workspaces. It can also give each other ideas for how to optimize their space to maintain productivity at home. For example, some people might have a mini-gym in their office, a dry-erase calendar, or a wall dedicated to inspirational quotes.
- Book Club
A virtual book club can be a fun and intellectual way to engage employees. Everyone can discuss the assigned book of the month, share insights, and learn from others' perspectives. It can help take your team members out of their usual routine and gets them thinking creatively about a new topic. It also encourages continuous learning and sharing opinions which is important for an innovative and productive workforce.
- Online Wellness Programs
Companies can arrange virtual wellness programs like yoga sessions, meditation classes, or desk workout exercises. Consider if anyone in your company is a certified yoga or meditation instructor who can lead the rest of the team. These activities can help maintain the physical and mental wellbeing of the employees, which is essential, especially when working remotely.
- Mentorship Program
Mentorship programs allow more experienced employees to guide newer or less experienced team members. It promotes skill development, leadership, and stronger bonds within the team. Such relationships can be particularly beneficial in a remote work environment to help newer employees adjust and grow.
- Travel the World Virtually
Each week, one employee can share about a state or country they've visited or lived in. They can show pictures, share interesting facts, or teach some phrases in the local language. It's a great way to learn about different cultures and places. Plus, it gives everyone an opportunity to share a fun experience they had that is unrelated to work.
- Themed Dress-Up Days
Dress-up days with themes like "superhero t-shirt day" or "retro fashion day" add an element of silliness and humor to regular workdays. Seeing colleagues in creative and fun outfits can be a great ice-breaker and a source of laughter during team meetings. It's also a great icebreaker for newcomers who want to show off their favorite tv or pop culture moments.
- Recipe Exchange
A recipe exchange platform where employees can share their favorite healthy recipes and discover new cuisines and dishes. Teams could even host virtual cooking contests, adding a friendly competitive element to the mix. For instance, everyone can make their own version of potato salad and the winning recipe gets to pick the dish for next week.
- Birthday Celebrations
Just because you work remotely doesn't mean you can't celebrate office birthdays. Instead, you can arrange a virtual party with games and a digital cake. Or you can give each of your employees a stipend to buy a dessert in honor of the birthday person. This shows the employee they're valued and they have a community of people who wish them success.
- Gratitude Moments
Allocate some time during team meetings for employees to express gratitude towards their colleagues. For instance, if a team recently went through a challenging sales week, a colleague could thank a specific individual for their hard work and dedication. This peer recognition reinforces the feeling of being part of a team and reminds everyone how important they are.
- Online Charity Drive
Organizing an online charity drive can promote a sense of social responsibility. Employees could contribute to a cause they care about, like an environmental organization or a local animal shelter. It creates a sense of purpose and encourages team members to understand their impact on the wider world.
- Workshop Webinars
Inviting industry leaders for online webinars can provide employees with new perspectives and ideas. It can be both educational and motivating, providing a break from regular work while still contributing to professional development. For example, you could invite an expert on project management to discuss best practices for successful remote team collaboration.
- Shared Movie Nights
With synchronized video platforms, teams can watch a movie together in real time. You can follow this up with a discussion or a friendly debate about the plot, characters, or themes. You can show movies that are thought-provoking or mind-bending — like Memento or Inception — to give teams plenty to discuss. It's a fun way to relax while also encouraging communication and team bonding.
- Virtual Field Trips
You can take your team on a virtual field trip to a museum, national park, or famous landmark. It can be an educational and engaging team activity related to your work or completely unrelated. The tour can be led by a team member or someone else local to that area. Or it can be a pre-recorded tour from a professional guide. Consider encouraging your staff to take notes, ask questions, and set aside time to discuss their opinions once the experience is over.
- Family and Pet Introduction
Who doesn't love to see a cute dog or a playful baby on screen now and then during Zooms? You can encourage employees to introduce their family members or pets during virtual meetings. This helps employees to connect on a personal level and builds a stronger sense of community within the team. It's also a reminder that everyone has a life outside work, fostering respect for work-life wellness.
Healthy Bodies and Minds Create a Thriving Workplace
Employee engagement is not merely a business strategy. It’s also a human strategy. While there are countless creative activities to enhance connection and camaraderie, at the core of every successful engagement effort lies the imperative of fostering both physical and mental wellbeing.
In a remote work environment, these considerations become even more crucial. Engaging remote workers goes beyond boosting morale—it's about demonstrating genuine care for their holistic wellbeing.
You can support and address their health needs through a robust wellness program. While enhancing overall employee performance, they contribute to a resilient and compassionate work culture that stands the test of time.
If you want to boost engagement in workers — remote and in-person alike — reach out to a Gympass wellbeing specialist today!
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.