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Keeping your teams engaged and motivated while they're working from home

Keeping employees engaged in meaningful ways is a topic that L&D/HR leaders are constantly working through. And for many of our clients' this is the top question that has remained unanswered during this current work from home mandate. And while we'd like to suggest a new metric to care about, we polled our Collective Gain L&D experts to help us brainstorm some new ways you can keep your teams engaged during this new normal.

Set Clear Boundaries Around Work

  • Help them understand how their specific tasks/projects are connected to the larger whole.

  • Let them know your expectations of when they need to be “on” or “available” and ask them what they need in terms of flexibility and best hours to work.

  • When able, allow them to have choice and autonomy on how the work gets done

  • Focus more on completion of work rather than hours worked.

  • Let them know what the “ground rules” or expectations are and how they’re being evaluated when working from home.

  • Create short-term goals...very short-term...even goals for the week, to give them something to move towards, celebrate, and feel accomplished.

Create Expectations Around Communication

  • Create ground rules around communication channels (what we use for what and when) to avoid feeling bombarded by technology or “drop-in video conferences” which will exhaust and actively dis-engage your teams.

  • Don’t get right down to business during meetings. Allow some extra time for informal catch ups and well-being checks.

  • Ensure you are having regular One-on-Ones with employees to connect, problem solve, and offer direction and support. These should not be “status update” meetings.

Re-evaluate and Collaborate in a New Way

  • Re-evaluate annual goals that may not be realistic or achievable, and have a collaborative discussion to ensure you are on the same page and aligned on new expectations.

  • Bring on more collaboration. The company has problems to solve from a business and employee standpoint, let them lend ideas and step up to be problem solvers, and innovators.

  • Create mini task forces to help solve some of the challenges employees are experiencing and give them visibility outside of the team, if appropriate, to help with the feeling that remote equals invisible.

Create Opportunities for Connection that are not Work Related

  • Offer opportunities for connection with the team that have nothing to do with work. Make sure to figure out the right frequency, too often and it feels like a time suck where they can’t get their work done, too infrequent and they lose motivation in between virtual get togethers.

  • Create slack channels and Zoom competitions that have nothing to do with work For example, a cooking competition, theme days, exercise/wellness/fitness slack channels where they can share resources on how they are staying active, scavenger hunt Zoom meetings etc.

  • Have a daily virtual coffee zoom: an open-ended Zoom meeting that anyone from the company can join, whenever they want, to rev them up in the morning, much like you’d start your day in the coffee/break room and you never know who will be there.

Offer Meaningful Support and Resources

  • Offer support and resources to help them continue to grow and develop as leaders and professionals (i.e. training, coaching, etc.) so they don’t feel like they are in a holding pattern.

  • Listen. Sometimes that is all people need to solve their own challenges (versus you solving it for them).

  • Help support the creation of new routines. Routines provide structure and certainty that people are craving right now. Whether that’s a daily Zoom update from the CEO, a weekly team virtual happy hour, etc.

  • Even when you don’t feel like it, be the voice of inspiration, hope, and a path forward while expressing your understanding that all of this is difficult.

  • Provide the resources they need to be successful, for example, technology, equipment, mental health day, etc.

  • Express appreciation and give very specific thank you’s and acknowledgment to employees.

Now, more than ever, the structures that were in place at companies feel a little more fluid. Take advantage of that to create meaningful ways for your teams to connect and work that you can bring with you once life returns to the "new normal".

Meet the Experts:

Natalie Underdown

Natalie Underdown, Ph.D. is an Organizational Psychologist and professional Executive Coach with over 15 years of experience working across Tech, Healthcare, Fashion and Entertainment where she was a Corporate HR Executive, focused on Inclusive Leadership, Organizational Development, and Employee Engagement.

Madeline Schmidt

Madeline holds a Masters in Psychology and has had the benefit of working in the “inside,” as the Head of Talent & Leadership Development for growth companies in a variety of industries such as sales, e-commerce, real estate and development, hospitality, and financial services. She has developed and coached thousands of individuals, high potentials, emerging leaders, and executives in leveraging their current strengths, developing new strengths, shifting mindsets and approaches to achieve personal and professional goals, and uncovering blind spots that get in the way of growth and success.

Interested in speaking with one of our L&D/HR experts? Contact us!



I started Collective Gain out of a desire make work better, where being on a magic team was the norm vs. a rare chance occurrence. Through coaching, I discovered deep self-awareness, new perspectives and ways of working that I am passionate about bringing to you.

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