Abby Corrigan, Texthelper

7 remote employee engagement ideas


As the Texthelp offices sit empty and quiet, missing the warmth and friendliness of our Texthelpers, the virtual world has gained 180 glowing smiles, determined to keep our happy harmony in tune. 

Since working from home, we’ve felt encouragement from one another to stay in touch and engaged. Initiatives set up by our leaders work alongside those set up by our thoughtful colleagues. Very naturally, within a very short space of time, we saw our calendars filling up with small pockets of normality, that would help us to stay calm and connected over the course of time to come. 

To help remote teams around the world, we thought we would share with you what we’re doing at Texthelp, to spark some ideas for employee engagement in your own organisation...
 


7 remote working employee engagement ideas
 

1. Question time with the CEO

Right now, we’re all experiencing a time where the answer to many of our questions is simply unknown - but our CEO, Mark McCusker is keeping the Texthelp team reassured by starting each week with ‘Question time!’. A HR initiative that began before we started remote working, the engagement from our CEO and his willingness to answer our, sometimes quite tough, questions has been invaluable;

The idea for a weekly Q&A session came about because we were aware that a number of our employees had questions, which seemed to cover a small number of themes. When you see a theme, it’s fairly safe to assume that it is a concern to everybody, not just the employees who asked the question. So, the weekly session is a good step forward. It encourages employees to ask for the information they want to know, and ensures that every employee is kept up to date with the answer. That’s really fundamental whilst we’re all working remotely. - Mark McCusker

To set this up, simply send around a Google Form with a space for your employees to enter a question; share the gathered questions with your CEO and give them time to prep the answers; set up a virtual Q&A session with your employees to discuss; and, record the hangout and share for those that couldn’t attend.
 

2. Positive thoughts, with love from HR

Working from home can feel a bit lonely at times, and that can make us feel low in mood, energy and motivation. The Texthelp HR team is working hard to keep our positive Texthelp culture alive. They’ve been dropping motivational messages into our inboxes; setting up virtual check-ins with anyone who needs a chat; and reminding us that it’s ok not to be ok right now, whilst sharing lots of resources to help us with any challenges we may be facing. 

Positive thoughts from your HR team help to remind employees that their health and wellbeing is important to you, and your team will feel secure knowing that you’re still looking out for them, even when working outside of the office. 

P.S. Our HR team are finding a lot of great resources as part of the ‘My Whole Self’ campaign, such as this downloadable PDF - ‘Supporting your mental health while working from home’ - check it out.
 

3. A series of comical podcasts

At Texthelp, we have a team of Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA) who act as a point of contact for any employee experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress. In this remote working environment, a few of our MHFA decided to start a podcast...

It was just a really challenging time for us all and we were conscious that a lot of our colleagues might live alone and be feeling a little isolated. Particularly because Texthelp is such a social organisation and we usually have lots of social activities going on when we're in the office, we just wanted to bring a bit of that to the working from home environment. In a time of crisis, humour is where the three of us tend to go to, so we just hoped it was helpful for others too. - Ruth Scott, Lianne Cassidy and Claire McGinley

They’ve told us all about their eating habits (and caused debates over bean toasties), shared stories about their previous holiday experiences (and misadventures), and kept us laughing along the way. They simply use Google Meet to virtually hang out, and record and share the session with the rest of us!


An image of our Mental Health First Aid Podcast Team on a virtual hangout together
(Lianne Cassidy, Claire McGinley and Ruth Scott)


4. The virtual lunch date... 

...or what some of our colleagues like to call ‘Virtual hugs, banter & real tea’. We’re sure this one has entered many a diary over the past few months and as a daily event for many of us, we’re surely thankful for that short space in the day of ‘face to face’ interaction. It’s easy to get caught up in your own remote working bubble, but we all need that friendly interaction, especially now. 

So whether it’s a lunchtime virtual get together, or a quick 15 minute call to say hello, hearing a colleague's voice will surely help to keep you feeling sociable. You might even be lucky enough to meet some furry new friends along the way!


A laptop showing a virtual Google hangout with two Texthelp employees, each with their dog
(Stuart Blair and Aidan Kelly, with Leo and Callie)


5. Virtual endurance training

Keeping our bodies moving, we’ve got some virtual fitness training going on by our colleague Angela. What started as a team training exercise at the office, quickly moved into the virtual space thanks to Angela’s proactive attitude. Inviting colleagues to join her workout sessions, Angela arranges and delivers fitness classes to the team remotely. She also records the class and shares the recording with the team, giving us something to motivate ourselves in our own time. 

Setting up virtual fitness sessions helps to bring people together, and supports employee wellbeing - so, if you’ve got someone in your team that is a fitness guru, why not encourage them to share their expertise!


Angela and her partner Brian working out in their back garden, displayed on a laptop screen
(Angela McQuillan and her partner Brian)


6. The weekly quiz

Giving our minds something fun to focus on, we take part each week in a quiz hosted by a colleague from our Marketing team (thanks Donna!). Our quizmaster plays on the strengths of everyone, with a completely different style of quiz shared around the company week to week - from cryptic messages to visual clues, we’ve guessed everything from TV shows to music artists. 

Simply, send around the quiz questions along with a Google Form, for your colleagues to submit their answers. Don’t forget to tell them the answers after the deadline has passed, so that they can give themselves a pat on the back for their trivia knowledge!!
 

7. End of the week drinks

Texthelp’s Founder and CTO, Martin McKay, helps us to end the week on a high note with a ‘Friday drinks’ hangout. Just before the working day is complete, we dial in to a company-wide hangout to celebrate our hard work over the week. It’s a really great way to get chatting to people you might not otherwise talk to, and helps to create a sense of unity over some laughter - what a lovely way to start the weekend off, with a smile!


Google Meet grid view showing over 60 Texthelp employees on a virtual call



We hope we’ve sparked some ideas to take into your own organisation. If you would like to find out more about us, and how we can support you and your employees at this time, take a look at our dedicated remote working support area.
 

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