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Tips for keeping employees virtually close while physically distant

July 20, 2020 | By 20/20 Onsite
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While working from home comes with many benefits, it’s not without its challenges. As the tilt of our work world shifts towards the home, you may be realizing just how much you miss about in-person interactions with your colleagues. Without “water cooler” talk around the office, it can be tough to feel connected and boost employee morale while business feels anything but usual. 

So how do you keep employees engaged with each other and with your company in the absence of in-person touch points? We’ve put together a list of tips and resources that we at 2020 On-site have found useful for staying virtually close while physically distant:

Slack - it’s not all business!

Slack  is a collaborative tool where teams can communicate about work projects in real time. Employees love it as an informal alternative to emailing and as a catalyst for moving work forward quickly. But it doesn’t have to be all work and no play! 

Creating non work-related channels where people can goof off together -- maybe share a picture of their pet or that funny meme they saw on Instagram -- can help maintain comradely. Think of it as virtual water cooler talk!

Video message with Loom (no, not Zoom!)

Since you’ve been working from home, how many times has a colleague emailed you a question that would’ve been so much easier to answer in person? Or how about those times one colleague asks another how to complete a task that would take 1 minute to explain in person, but 20 minutes to write out in an email?

When not physically together in an office, people feel less likely to lean on colleagues for support. They’d rather spend extra time teaching themselves something that could be quickly explained by a peer to avoid burdening someone else. 

With video messaging tools like Loom, employees can record and send quick videos to one another that both save time and keep people feeling connected. With screen recording capabilities and the ability to be expressive and personal, Loom is the next best thing to rolling your desk chair over to your colleague’s computer and asking for help. 

Virtual wellness check-ins 

Consider how much input about the wellbeing of your employees you receive from in-person interactions. Whether it’s walking out of a meeting together, standing at the coffee maker in the break room, or a formal performance review - you gather a lot from someone’s body language, tone, and demeanor.

But as part of work from home culture, face-to-face exposure to employees is limited to structured meetings only, and a lot of that intuitiveness is lost. Without the informal conversations we’re accustomed to at the office, it can be challenging to get a read on how your employees are doing and feeling on a day-to-day basis. 

With people management softwares like Lattice, you can virtually check in on the qualitative measures that signal employee success and wellbeing. They offer tools such as real time employee feedback, recognition, and praise, as well as performance management and company surveys that provide the necessary insight for successful people management.

Free Professional Development 

Learning new skills and leveraging existing skills is an important part of keeping employees excited and motivated about their work. But with the challenges that accompany the convergence of personal life and work life at home, professional development is slipping off the radar for many employees.

In response, many professional development providers, such as Microsoft, Salesforce, General Assembly are lowering the barrier to entry by offering free access to their classes, trainings, workshops, and webinars 

By highlighting and sharing these opportunities with your employees, you can reinforce your commitment to their professional growth and reinvigorate their excitement about picking up new skills.

Mental health benefit add-ons

Now more than ever, mental health is critical to personal and professional success. At 2020 On-site, we’re all about providing easy access to high-quality, convenient health benefits. With services like Firefly, you can make it easy for your employees to access the mental health support they need through your benefits offerings.


What are some of the ways you’re engaging with employees while distance keeps you physically apart? Let us know by leaving a comment below!



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