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Mitarbeiterengagement im Home Office

How to Create Employee Engagement in The Home Office?

Natalie Ediger, April 25, 2020· Leadership

Mitarbeiterengagement im Home Office

Ways for more employee engagement in the home office

The evening is getting closer, you look expectantly at the watch, the hour strikes and whoooosh…! You run to the time clock at a pace as if a masked mass murderer was after you and without even turning around you are out of office. Not investing an extra second in the company. Why would you? After all,  we get paid for those eight hours. Not exactly a prime example for the effective commitment of an employee. And it is precisely this scenario that should be avoided as far as possible. Instead, you should focus on actively encouraging employee engagement. Employee engagement is considered a basic prerequisite for the success of a company.

However, creating effective employee engagement is a challenge even if the employees are in the same office as you are. Of course, it becomes much more difficult when the physical connection is lost and you work decentrally. In this article we therefore explain how to actively increase employee engagement in the home office.

What is employee engagement anyway?

According to Forbes, employee engagement is the emotional connection of the employee to the company and its goals. Dedicated employees are intensively involved in their work and strive to contribute effectively to its success. They don’t just work for their payroll, but want to make a positive contribution in their own interest. Employee commitment is often confused with “satisfaction” or happy employees. However, a satisfied employee is not necessarily a engaged employee. An employee may be happy with his actual 9-5 job, but not particularly diligent or even eager to do more than just the most basic things.

Engaged employees are motivated to get personally involved in projects, to develop their own ideas and to constantly optimize the work processes. Studies confirm that committed employees bring about 6% higher profits to the company as well as more customer satisfaction and higher customer loyalty. According to a Gallup study, a 10% investment in employee engagement results in an annual profit increase of 2400 USD per employee – a jackpot for any company.

How do we manage to emotionally bind the employee to the company and increase his or her personal commitment when there are many kilometres and an interface between us and the employee? It is important for the manager to create certain basic conditions so that remote employees are also actively involved in the company’s activities.

Leave freedom for the employees

Working at a distance also means that things will happen differently than in the traditional office. As long as the employees don’t make a concrete mistake, it is important to leave them some space so that each team member can find his own rhythm. Especially in remote work, many managers tend to “micromanage“, a management style that controls the individual work steps and processes enormously and does not grant the employees any autonomy. Employees complete tasks only out of fear of being fired, but not out of interest in the company’s success. This cannot work for long.

Especially in the home office, a working atmosphere should be created in which the team can develop freely and develop ideas independently. In our last post we therefore also emphasized how important it is to show trust to the employees.

Establishing a company culture

A strong corporate culture gives employees a sense of community and a deeper sense of purpose in their work, and is thus considered an important basis for employee engagement.

What is the company’s goal? What does the company do for employees, for customers and for society? We are not talking about profit maximization here, but about the mission and values. An employee whose personal values are in harmony with the corporate culture will also pull in the same direction towards the corporate goal. Develop an effective communication system that promotes personal relationship building even in the home office and organize annual retreats so that the entire team comes together and works in one place, gets to know each other and returns to the home office strengthened.

Clearly defined tasks

What do you expect from the employees? Which projects have priority? What scope does the team have? Expectations that are not clearly defined can be fatal, especially in the home office, because you leave the team in the dark and the employees see no importance in their own role.

Goals awaken the ambition to achieve more in the employee and create a deeper sense of purpose for the work. If the employee does his to-do list just to delete a few lines from the agenda, he will be frustrated in the long run and see no sense in his position.

Create effective internal communication

Transparent internal communication is the basis for functional cooperation and an important motor of self-motivation. In a remote working environment, communication is even more important, because on the one hand, it prevents many misunderstandings, but on the other hand, it helps to maintain social contact. If you don’t communicate with your team in a clear and concise manner, your team will become nothing more than a bunch of scattered loners working separately on some activities. How will this affect you in the long run? It will result in a lot of frustration, boredom and total disinterest! Ergo: Bad employee engagement. The following important points should be considered:

Recognition and feedback

If you work independently and do not receive direct feedback from the team, you quickly feel superfluous and unappreciated as an employee. However, it is precisely this point that is neglected in most companies. Why is that? Why is it so difficult for so many managers to simply give a positive word to the employee? A small “thank-you” would provide a real motivation boost for the remote employee.

“Water cool effect”

The well-known water cooler effect from the office should not be missing in the virtual office. What is it all about? It describes the phenomenon where employees gather around the water cooler in the office and talk. This is exactly why the water dispenser is a symbol for meeting and social contacts at the workplace. However, the majority of remote communication is asynchronous and takes place in writing. As a result, conversation is usually reduced to purely professional topics and therefore no personal relationship can be established with the team. But this ” water cooler” is exactly what should not be missed in the home office. For this reason, special chat rooms or threats should also be opened for topics that are completely independent of work. Some private information exchange helps to create a sense of community and personal relationships.

Video meetings

Meetings are an important part of corporate communication and should therefore not be neglected in remote work. Especially in the home office, online meetings are the only way to maintain social contact. Exchange ideas with the team at eye level and integrate small talk before you dive into the professional topic. One way to strengthen the team spirit would be to gather together for online after-work hangouts or virtual coffee breaks.

Create variety

When the employee slips into the role of an assistant, fills out ready-made templates and also works in the home office without personal contacts, he quickly feels like a small cog in the wheel. Not a particularly nice basic prerequisite for long-lasting enthusiasm in the company. Then you can’t even blame the employee if he suddenly runs out of breath. Monotonous tasks and little responsibility give employees the feeling that they are doing a meaningless job and cannot develop professionally. This will not only affect employee commitment, but even their mental health in the long term. In the worst case, monotonous work processes result in “bore-out”, with fatigue and depressive moods as a consequence.

Therefore, especially in the home office, it is important to give employees not only routine tasks, but also new activities that challenge the mind. More responsibility enables the employees to participate more strongly in the company’s goals and therefore also shows their trust in the team. At the same time, the employee learns a lot in his job and does not have the feeling of standing still. A good workplace should also be guaranteed, because it makes unavoidable and boring tasks more pleasant. Further training seminars on a regular basis shouldn’t miss either: Employees can be offered online workshops that not only provide a good change from the monotonous daily routine of the home office, but also enable the employee to further their professional training and thus advance their career.

Employee engagement as an important part of the home office

It’s not the raise, not the promotion, not the extra goodie on the desk. It is the emotional bond that motivates the employee to go that extra mile and, in his or her own interest, to support the company in achieving its goals. For this reason it is important to create a team that puts its heart and soul into its work and  is motivates to move the company forward. And this is possible, no matter if there are different countries, continents or oceans between you and the team. All you have to do is create the right conditions that increase employee engagement even in the home office.