Well, we’ve been in the new pandemic world for about a year now. Companies have had to completely shift their way of thinking to adjust; some stuff worked and some not so much. There is always room for improvement. As we continue with the start of a new year, and keeping with the related traditions, here are some remote work resolutions for 2021! It’s not too late to start now.
Plan a Variety of Remote Work Activities
I know we, at WebDevStudios (WDS) have it a little bit easier than most, since we were already a remote-first company, but I’m hoping that our normal can be your fortune. Planning a variety of activities should definitely be among your remote work resolutions.
We have always had to plan remote activities to keep employees engaged (except our once-a-year company retreat, WDS Camp, which we hope to conclude in 2021). There are a plethora of holidays you can use to plan events around and even create fun to-dos with non-traditional holidays.
Check out Holiday Insights Calendar for random, funny holidays. I like to look for days that spark interest in the team. For example, one month I talked about World Emoji Day and gave a history about it. I also like to note holidays that highlight something someone loves, like celebrating Houseplant Appreciation Day for our Director of Business Development, Jodie Riccelli, who has something like 250 plants! We actually made a fun contest to guess who many plants she did have one day.
Make your remote work activities personal and plan small events around them. If you have people that are in different countries, make sure you call out holidays there also, and not just paid holidays. We have people in Canada, the Philippines, and Pakistan, as well as the US, so I try to include at least one national holiday from each country every month in our company newsletter.
During Halloween and throughout December, we plan all sorts of entertaining activities : costume contests, pumpkin carving, ugly sweater contest, virtual holiday scavenger hunt, etc. Our Marketing Strategist, Laura Coronado, even collects pics from team members to create GIFs to share on social media for other holidays like National Dress Your Pet Up Day.
But don’t limit remote work activities to holidays, either. We do a weekly football pool called Pigskin Pick’em every year and plan on doing a March Madness bracket this year. Since our first healthy challenge month was so successful, I plan on doing that again maybe in the late spring.
Start an Internal Company Newsletter
I mentioned our internal company newsletter before. This is something I kicked off when I joined WDS. Starting an internal company newsletter as a part of your remote work resolutions is a great way to get company info, fun news, and celebrations right to staff’s inboxes.
I keep the same basic layout for our newsletter, using EmailOctopus, with sections like:
- Client Success – Highlight a recently launched client project
- Team Success – Showcase what cool things our team accomplishes (once, I did a feature of two team members’ personal artwork)
- Employee Spotlight – Focus on a specific team member
- Health Corner – Feature workout tips, healthy lifestyle ideas, recipes sourced from the team
- Company News – I create a “The More You Know” section to add helpful tips. This is also where I add holidays and dates to remember, info about our monthly Lunch and Learn events, top five Hey Taco! receivers, birthdays, new arrivals, and anniversaries.
I get help from people throughout the month while planning the next edition. And when the newsletter gets delivered, people actually read it!
Make Team Engagement Official
Another remote work resolution you could make is to make team engagement official by scheduling it. For example, we conduct monthly group chats within the first two weeks of the month, usually.
I use a random generator to create small groupings from our team. I then schedule 30-minute calls per group and drop some icebreaker questions into the Google Calendar invitation. Monthly group chats are water cooler conversation opportunities for virtual teams.
At WDS, we have had an overwhelmingly positive response to our group chats. The main requirement is that participants do not talk about work. It’s a time for everyone to get to know a little bit more about each other and bond. I’ve even had people ask if they can schedule one-on-ones with other people to engage on a more personal level, which we allow, too, but I let those two coworkers schedule their own.
Don’t miss another birthday celebration! Use a virtual card like Kudoboard to send birthday cards to team members. They have a free digital card that allows for up to 10 people to leave personalized birthday greetings. I rotate around the people who sign the cards. You can add images, GIFs, and even videos to your message. You can send it around in advance and schedule the delivery to the birthday party on the day of. It’s incredibly easy and a nice gesture.
Lastly, we love to create social channels on Slack where people with the same interests can join and discuss the designated topic. We have a channel dedicated to photography, and wow! What some of my co-workers can do with a camera. There’s a shopping channel where we share deals and recent purchases and a pets channel, because why would you not?
Level Up Your Remote Work Leadership Skills
There are so many resources out there for HR professional who need assistance with creating an inclusive and engaging virtual workspace. LinkedIn Learning has classes, while Wellright.com offers great tips for helping employees. There are also a ton of free webinars from HR groups that speak to virtual offices that could be great for all employees, not just those in the HR space. Add researching these opportunities to level up to your list of remote work resolutions.
I often joke that even though I’ve never met any of my coworkers in real life that I feel more connected to this group than at other jobs where I have worked in-person inside an office. That’s because of the remote work activities we create and people making an effort.
I hope some of these ideas help you engage your remote team during this unprecedented time. I have been amazed at how many companies have fully embraced the virtual office and decided even after it’s safe to go back to an office, to either move to a remote-first or hybrid setting. They see the benefits when people do not have to commute, can spend more time with family, and are able to do things around the house during their breaks. Some companies never wanted to go remote because they thought employees wouldn’t be as productive, but in fact, they have seen just the opposite happening. The company culture won’t be the same as if you were in an office, but that does not mean it can’t be just as good, if not better. You just have to think outside the box a little, which is never a bad thing!