On average, only every third employee is actively engaged at work. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to find fun ways to engage remote employees.

What do you usually do to improve this statistic in your remote workplace? Virtual meet-ups? Huddles? What else have you tried for effective remote employee engagement?

If a virtual meeting is the only method you bank on, we have bad news for you. Week-round digital meetings exhaust 38% of employees and leave 30% stressed.

So, what strategies are better?

We’ve researched, interviewed employers, and prepared a list of creative and fun virtual engagement activities. Grab them all below and then scroll down for helpful tools.

But before we start with the ways, let’s discuss the whys.

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Employee engagement in remote teams: Why bother?

Explore the real benefits of remote employee engagement below.

Reduced loneliness

Teleworking increased the feeling of loneliness by 67% compared to office workers. Virtual employee engagement activities help remote employees overcome the so-called remoteliness.

Healthier working environment

Disengaged and detached workers have a poor employee experience, spreading their unhappiness to colleagues like a contagious disease. That’s why it’s important to try remote employee engagement ideas and create a healthy remote work culture where everyone is fully engaged.

Higher productivity levels

Engaged remote teams demonstrate a 17% boost in productivity. They also skip tasks less frequently.

Customer success and profitability

Higher remote employee engagement can lift customer loyalty by 10%. In addition, it generates 23% more profits.

Better employee retention and job satisfaction

Engaged workers develop an emotional attachment to the company. They also tend to be more satisfied with their jobs, feel a stronger connection and commitment, and remain loyal.

So, let’s learn how to engage your workforce and achieve remote employee excellence overall.

8 interactive and fun virtual employee engagement ideas

Use the tried-and-tested remote employee engagement tips from experts.

1. Gamify work (and start with onboarding)

Gamification means adding the elements of game mechanics into work to make the employee experience more engaging and entertaining.

These employee recognition ideas might come in the form of:

  • Points
  • Rewards
  • Leaderboards
  • Progress bars
  • Avatars
  • Badges, etc.

Max Wesman, Founder & COO of GoodHire, believes remote work gamification should begin with onboarding. He says, “Gamification during onboarding fuels new hire engagement. Using a gamified environment to onboard remotely, you start a joyful adventure together, deliver a delightful experience, and win employees’ hearts forever.”

In fact, 95% of employees would like to work in gamified environments, while their engagement grows by 48% with gamification. No wonder that 70% of the top 2,000 global employers use at least some gamification elements in their workplaces. Quite often, companies turn to it to onboard and train new hires.

For example, FocusU helped HSBC create a gamified onboarding experience with challenges and quizzes.

FocusU helps HSBC create a gamified onboarding experience


2. Talk finances and launch financial wellness initiatives

Talking about money always feels like walking on eggshells. Such discussions like remote work salary or payroll issues may evoke awkwardness. Employers and remote employees are often reluctant even to start them.

But, according to Anthony Martin, Founder and CEO of Choice Mutual, it’s time to normalize financial talks in the workplace to achieve greater transparency and pave the way to a financially educated and engaged workforce. 

He says, “Financial engagement is not less significant for remote employee well-being. Employers must engage with remote staff on a financial level and create an all-embracing financial wellness program, from budgeting literacy to retirement plans.”

So, what’s a financial well-being plan? Most include the following:

  • Financial education (e.g., ebooks or online courses on budget planning and savings)
  • Student loan assistance
  • Debt management help
  • Retirement planning (401k)
  • Health savings accounts (HSAs)
  • Stock options
  • Insurance, etc.

Amazon is an excellent example of an employer disclosing the hourly wage and offering a broad package for remote employees’ financial success.

Amazon career page


Note: Health insurance and 401K plans are the most critical remote employee benefits for 75% of remote workers.

3. Invest in an engaging home workspace

You should transform the way your employees work from home.

How exactly?

Consider this tactic shared by Shawn Plummer, CEO of The Annuity Expert. He recommends, “To engage remote employees more effectively, allocate a home office budget or a work-from-home stipend to help them create productive work environments. Your remote workforce may need specific gear like laptops, workstations, headphones, and other elements for a home office set-up to optimize their work experience and keep them more engaged.”

Look at home office budgets offered to remote employees at different companies:

  • Hotjar: one-time stipend of €2,500 (topped up €500 per year).
  • Zendesk: complete reimbursement for cell phone and internet plans and home office equipment.
  • Webflow: $500 as a one-time budget to use within 90 days
  • Commsor: $3,000 (one-time)
  • OysterHR: Laptop + $1,500 equipment stipend
  • Appcues: $1,000 WFH stipend + additional $500 yearly for work-related tech tools
  • DNSFilter: $800 (one-time)
  • The Earth Species Project: $4,000 work-from-home stipend

4. Celebrate diversity and hear remote employees’ voices

Can you boast a healthy company culture where everyone can communicate freely and openly without being bullied or harassed?

A toxic workplace culture bolstered by bullying, harassment, and discrimination leads to low engagement levels and fear of speaking up. That is why Linda Shaffer, Chief People Operations Officer at Checkr, feels that “the process of engaging remote employees is tightly connected to nurturing the culture of openness, trust, and diversity. As a company or team leader, you should also recognize remote workers with diverse backgrounds, needs, and experiences, let them have their say, and, more importantly, hear each employee’s voice.”

Diversity and inclusion are the cornerstones at Checkr. The company recognizes minorities with a progressive approach to the holidays, like celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride Day. Checkr also celebrates heritage months, like Black History Month, with employees expressing their feelings and opinions.

Black history month post from Checkr


Checkr also created a fair chance hiring hub to build an inclusive workplace for people with different backgrounds and stories.

Checkr hiring hub


5. Organize contests and tournaments with valuable prizes

A friendly competition is another superb strategy for remote employee engagement.

“Virtual competitions and contests are fun and engaging ways to enhance communication and collaboration in remote teams. They also spur healthy rivalry and encourage remote workers to perform at their best,” claims Jerry Han, CMO at PrizeRebel. “The best part? There are tons of ideas: a photo/video/costume contest, a talent show, a cooking challenge, a game tournament, and others.”

Jerry Han also provides a list of remote employee appreciation gifts for such virtual tournaments and contests:

  • Gift card or voucher (Uber, Netflix, or Amazon gift cards)
  • One free PTO day
  • Personalized snack box (Remote Breakroom, Boxybite, SnackNation)
  • Ticket or tour (Disneyland ticket or Airbnb virtual cultural tour)
  • Membership or subscription (Adobe Creative Cloud membership or Audible subscription)
  • Online course (Udemy, Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning)
  • Motivating sales incentives for remote sales teams

6. Encourage frequent breaks

Taking breaks is the absolute #1 method for a more engaged, productive, and mentally healthy remote team.

Stephan Baldwin, Founder of Assisted Living, explains why breaks are crucial:

“Typically, people experience physiological and psychological fatigue every 90 minutes and need to renew their energy pools. In this case, recurring breaks can save from burnout and boost physical/mental wellness that, in turn, contributes greatly to workforce engagement and productivity.”

Stephan Baldwin suggests incorporating micro- and macro-breaks into the schedules of remote employees in addition to regular meal breaks for lunch or coffee.


Micro-breaks are short, voluntary breaks taken during the workday. Some examples are:

  • Standing up every hour
  • Walking around the room
  • Exercising
  • Stretching
  • Napping

Regarding the latter, daily short naps for 10-20 minutes prevent grogginess, improve mood, and can also increase daily productivity by 2.3 percent.


Macro-breaks are longer breaks, usually lasting for one or several days. For example, one day off or an X-day productivity detox can help your remote workers fully recharge and return to work with zeal and enthusiasm.

It can also be a digital detox to unplug from the Internet and electronic devices and try relaxation and calming techniques like meditation, aromatherapy, or massage.

7. Host virtual team buildings

Have you thought about having an enjoyable team building in a digital space?
That’s what remote employees actually want – 36% would eagerly participate in weekly team-building activities. However, they hate Zoom happy hours as a team-building exercise.

“When engaging remote workers via virtual team buildings, you must be more creative and imaginative about organizing such events. Besides, setting up a team building online, it’s always better to ask your team members what they prefer and how comfortable they are with the event format,” advises Tom Golubovich, Head of Marketing & Media Relations at Ninja Transfers.

He suggests unique and fun virtual team-building activities like:

  • Laughter yoga
  • Virtual happy hours
  • Gaming session
  • Virtual employee engagement games
  • Home tour
  • Cooking class
  • Virtual campfire
  • Improv show
  • Movie or book club
  • Digital escape room

For example, the marketing team at Vertex Inc. had an incredible virtual adventure when solving a thrilling virtual murder mystery together. You can also put your heads together and come up with your own remote employee engagement activities that cater to the unique interests of your entire team. 

Escapely virtual activity


8. “Install” virtual water coolers

What can be better than a digital room to relax amid a workday and engage in a fun conversation with remote coworkers?

A virtual water cooler can help you make it possible. It’s an online space where remote remote team members can have casual, informal chats and socialize.

This is one of the best remote employee engagement ideas successfully implemented by Jolly SEO. The company’s Co-Founder, Morgan Taylor, shares, “Virtual water coolers help us boost remote employee engagement in SEO teams. Team members can discuss non-work related stuff, bombard each other with funny memes, and enjoy hanging out together.”

Jolly SEO used Slack to create digital water-cooler channels.

Bonus: Remote employee engagement tools

With these eight tips, hopefully, you’ll find some ways to spark a bit more engagement from your remote employees. However, it’s also worth addressing if you’re using the correct tools to improve employee engagement, incentivize team bonding, and increase employee morale. 

Here’s a full arsenal of remote worker tools and software for employee engagement:

  • To onboard with gamification: iSpring Learn, Eloomi, Seppo.io
  • To recognize achievements: Motivosity, Awardco, Bonusly 
  • To chat informally: CoffeePals, Sococo,  Watercoolerapp.tech
  • To organize virtual team buildings: Gingerbread Games, GooseChase, Gatheround, Quizbreaker
  • To bring a team closer despite physical distance: Gather.Town, Roam Cloud HQ, SpatialChat
  • To collect remote employee feedback: CultureMonkey, Qualtrics, TINYpulse
  • To track productivity and time: Hubstaff, Time Doctor, Harvest

You can easily measure remote employee engagement with Hubstaff, capturing the highlights and fluctuations in activity and work time in real time. You can also:

  • Track time and convert it to timesheets
  • Create custom invoices and work orders
  • Download 20+ detailed reports for time, activity, and more
  • Utilize 30+ integrations with industry-leading apps Slack, PayPal, and Asana. 
Hubstaff Dashboard widgets

Final word on engaging remote staff

Remote employee engagement goes far beyond virtual meetings, but you can find the right strategies and tools for building an engaged remote workforce. You’ve got them all in this article.

Follow the above tips and leverage work-from-home software to boost employee engagement and manage more successful remote teams. 

Hubstaff is there for your team’s success. Give it a try and see how you can keep remote employees engaged and productive.

Category: Remote