How to Stay Engaged When You Work Remotely

January 15, 2016 Jiordan Castle


When I tell people that I work from home 2 or 3 days a week — and that if I were to leave one of the cities where Appirio has an office, it would become 5 days a week — the response is practically universal: polite jealousy mixed with contempt. “You’re so lucky,” someone might say to me; quickly followed by, “But I could never do that. I need to be around people.” As if I don’t need the same daily dose of human connection. Or worse — as if I’m some unshowered misanthrope with a laptop.

But the Harvard Business Review has told us the same pro-remote work fact for years: remote workers tend to be more productive. The cynics seem to think this is because the WFH crowd never fully disconnects. Truthfully, I don’t work any longer or harder than I would if I had a cubicle to work from every day. In fact, Stanford researchers found that remote workers were happier and less likely to quit… in addition to being more productive.

Of course, remote workers face challenges like their cubicle-stricken counterparts — finding new and different ways of staying engaged being one of them. The following are some tried-and-true ways to reinvigorate your WFH routine.

Salesforce Chatter — like Facebook for work.

Chatter is a great platform for communicating the essentials: birthday wishes, dog photos, local volunteering and team-building opportunities. It’s also a one-stop shop for knowledge sharing, getting involved in a CoE (Center of Excellence), and collaboration.

Form a club or host a virtual happy hour.

At Appirio, we use Google Hangouts for IM and video chat. While it’s critical to be able to IM a coworker for social and work purposes, Hangouts can also be used to facilitate employee resource groups or informal clubs, like movie or book groups.

A monthly meetup to discuss a shared passion helps tether you to people with similar interests at work (people you may not work with on a daily basis, or at all) and provides a built-in excuse to watch more movies or read more books. The same goes for a virtual happy hour. All you need is a beverage and some good conversation.

Find your superpower and use it for good.

What makes you tick? If an all-cello Pandora station or a carefully curated Spotify playlist helps you work (or revs you up for a long day ahead), make it an integral part of your routine. If you get your best ideas at a nearby coffee shop or during a daily walk around your neighborhood, feed into those whims. Feel-good, healthy habits can boost your mood and ensure productivity.

Befriend other WFH people. is a great resource if you want to join a bowling league, participate in a workshop, or even — you guessed it — befriend other WFH people in your area. Spending time with people with a similar lifestyle can help scratch a social itch and help you stay grounded.

Have lunch with coworkers (virtually).

Whether it’s weekly or monthly, a non-work, lunchtime Hangout with coworkers is a great way to stay connected with the people in your organization. And if you’re thinking it’s awkward to eat on camera, remember: you’d sit across from someone at a restaurant too; only now you’ve got a screen between you and — the best part — you don’t even have to share.

Get more tips on staying connected at work and learn about mobile solutions for a better Worker Experience from our ebook, The Future of Employee Engagement.


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