As business owners, we want to make sure that employees feel safe, cared for and connected. Employees that are thriving are more engaged, which is the foundation of an unshakable organizational culture. And while those of us who are able to work from home right now are relieved and grateful, it’s normal to also feel disconnected and a bit out of sorts.

Many of us are missing the sense of community and comradery keeps us going throughout the day. 

It’s important to remember that this won’t last forever. More importantly, working from home doesn’t have to mean working alone. In the meantime, we’ve put together some tips to empower your team and boost employee engagement.

1. Connect with your team face-to-face through video.

By now you’ve probably heard about Zoom, which allows you to have video and voice calls in groups or one on one. We like to keep communication flowing by using it for regular team huddles and check-ins.

It’s also great for maximizing productivity during brainstorming and collaboration sessions. Using the screen-sharing and annotation tools, the host of the call can share visual material on their screen and participants can highlight and draw on it. To do this you simply select View Option from the top of the Zoom window and then choose Annotate.

2. Keep your door open, virtually.

Employees may need more assurances right now, especially if they are stressed or anxious. Establish an open-door policy and communicate it clearly for openness and transparency. Encourage employees to reach out to you through multiple channels, whether that’s call, e-mail, chat or video. 

It’s also important to be candid and set communication boundaries too. Time can get away from us easily while working from home, so establish some collective expectations around work hours and response times.

3. Provide resources for time management.

Many of us are adjusting to a new working environment with a set of potentially distracting ‘co-workers’ — children, family members who may talk a *tad* too loudly on the phone, and pets who don’t understand the meaning of personal space. 

While these interactions can make for some light-hearted ‘water cooler chat’, it can also be more challenging to focus and get into the flow. Luckily, there are some apps for that. 

  • Flora – a cute focus timer and habit/goal tracker. 
  • Focus – another timer app to balance efficient work sessions and breaks. 
  • TickTick – makes to-do lists and goals feel manageable in calendar format. 
  • Trello – improve collaboration and organize time projects or tasks using boards, cards, and checklists. 

4.  Make culture and community a priority.

You share stories, struggles and a shared sense of purpose — the reason why you show up to work and engage instead of simply making a living. You can keep that spark while working from home by: 

  • Creating a private Facebook or WhatsApp group for employees to share photos, weekend plans, tips on how they’re staying active or keeping children educated and entertained, recipes and resources they’ve found helpful during this transition. 
  • Offer the option to leave your video calls up during some work sessions to simulate a group environment. 
  • Use different Slack channels so that co-workers can discuss what they are working on or more casual ‘water cooler’ chat. 
  • Brainstorm how your company can lend a hand to your community and other businesses. Get creative — use mindmaps, create polls and host virtual workshops. 
  • Reach out and connect with each employee via a direct report daily. 

While some of these may seem like common sense, working from home is also an opportunity to innovate the way your team communicates and collaborates.

 On top of these tips, encourage employees to take breaks, go outside and take care of their mental and physical well-being. Keep recognizing hard work, focusing on good news and exercising patience and empathy. We are all more resilient when we are kind and support one another.