How to Spark Employee Happiness While Working Remotely

Last verified May 21, 2021

This is a Guest post from Sarah Mooney Director of Demand Generation @ LEON

A positive company culture is one of the fundamental requirements of any productive workplace. If your team members have a negative mindset while they're working, it's more than likely to reflect poorly on their performance.

At this point, we all know that working remotely comes with its pitfalls. There is no shortage of distractions, and being stuck at home — especially during a pandemic — doesn’t help to keep spirits up.

Company culture is more than ping pong tables and kombucha on tap. When your company goes remote, out of choice or necessity, those “perks” become obsolete. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love ping pong — it’s a great way to get the gang together and whip it Balls of Fury style. But building a genuinely positive work environment, especially in a distributed setting, relies on much more than office perks

By encouraging your employees to seek out a healthy work life balance, and prioritize their mental health and wellbeing, you’ll give your team the support to really show up when they are online and bring their best selves to work. Cultivating a positive company culture, and keeping employees happy will ultimately save your company time and money. Studies have shown that when someone is struggling with mental health challenges, their ability to perform work tasks reduces by 35%

Thanks to a variety of new technology and advancements, we have the ability to shift our businesses to a remote setting and strengthen our company cultures in a virtual environment. 

Being remote doesn’t have to hinder a company's growth and performance. There’s a long list of tools available to streamline communication, keep internal information organized, and bolster a positive distributed working environment.

Gone are the days of water-cooler chats. Gone are the hallway check-ins with your teammates and walks to grab a mid afternoon coffee. I miss high fives? Do you? ✋What does this mean? The company culture you had at the office doesn’t exist anymore

In this blog, we’re going to dive into a list of ideas you can implement with your remote team to spark happiness while working remotely:

1. Communicate, communicate, and communicate some more!

We all know this one. Thoughtful and consistent communication is foundational to improving remote work culture. “Collaboration and communication” was listed as the #1 struggle that came with working remotely in Buffer’s 2020 State of Remote Work. Communication tools are critical to any successful remote tech stack

One of the biggest issues remote workers highlight is a feeling of isolation. Following prescriptive remote work communication guidelines, and simple key efforts such as keeping cameras on during meetings, can help alleviate some of those feelings of detachment.

Here are some tips on how to make your comms channels fun and effective:

  • Get creative with your Slack channels! Consider starting a channel dedicated to ideation. Encourage your team members to post brainstorm prompts and out of the box ideas. This should be a safe space for even the wackiest ideas to be applauded for their creativity rather than shut down.

  • Are virtual coffee breaks really a thing? They totally are (and are not as awkward as they sound on paper!). We know — adding another Zoom call to the calendar can feel counterproductive, but it will allow your team to reconnect, get some face to face time, and feel a little less lonely. Allocate 15 - 30 minutes a few days a week for virtual coffee breaks, and set the precedent that this is a time to not talk about work — to just mingle with your colleagues.

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  • Morning huddles are also a thing. Let’s say your team logs in at 9:00am, hop onto a daily call to run through everyone's game plan for the day and week. This gives team members time to align on projects and find areas to support one another.

  • Show some recognition! Moving to a remote setting doesn’t mean you need to stop spreading support and gratitude. Best in class teams prioritize recognizing accomplishments and celebrating one another. Like I said, I miss high fives and a gif is the next best thing.

Don’t you think they should make an ‘The Office’ reunion special?

2. Instill a sense of genuine trust

Instilling a sense of genuine trust among teams is key to a constructive remote work culture.

When you’re working from home, there’s no rules around how many hours you need to be sitting in your chair. At the end of each week your team will have only their outputs to prove their productivity. But your employees shouldn’t have to feel like they continuously need to prove themselves. That can only lead to one thing longterm — employee burnout.

Start by ensuring that your team members know that you trust them to get their work done. If an employee doesn’t pick up your call, or reply to a message immediately, don’t jump to accusations or conclusions about them not putting in the work. Working from home means that there are extenuating circumstances — a phone could be silent, they could be in the washroom, they could even be on a break or helping their kids out during their remote school day. The list goes on. Indicators of mistrust in the workplace start off small, a slightly accusatory Slack here and there, but they can be detrimental to your culture and the overall happiness of your employees. 

3. Throw virtual gatherings

You used to host team bonding events when you were working in office so why not keep that tradition alive? Virtual events can be more than just another Zoom call cramming your calendar — they can reconnect your teams and bring back some much needed socialization. 

There is no shortage of virtual event ideas and classes swirling around on the internet right now. Happy hours complete with cocktail making kits, getting the endorphins flowing with a group fitness class, Zoom game nights, and even virtual trips to the petting zoo!

This isn’t going to fill the void of in-person team lunches by any means, but it’s a good place to start boosting team moral. 

4. Draw inspiration from other remote teams

Some of the most reputable companies are fully remote. Twitter, Shopify, Zapier, Buffer, Invision, and Upworthy to name just a few.  

Powerful remote companies are taking advantage of communication tools like Slack and Zoom to stay in touch. Knowledge management software like Guru to ensure team members have the information they need to do their jobs at their fingertips. Organizational tools like Asana to keep projects on track.

Check out the three key elements of a robust remote work tech stack.

If these tools have the ability to connect your teams and negate the need for spending on an office space, we can assume that remote work will be here to stay. 

Leon has interviewed some of the biggest companies and professionals about their performance and employees wellness strategies. You can join their super private community Humans to take a look.

Moving to a full-time remote setting is new to everyone. We’re all handling this change differently. But making employee happiness a priority can help your team stay together and support each other. We all need to feel less alone, and create a sense of company culture is a great place to start.

LEON is launching the world's first-ever AI-powered employee performance platform. You can join the waitlist here, and worrying about culture will be in the past. They’ll handle it all.