Working from Home – How to Engage Employees & Build Your Culture Virtually

During this time of uncertainty with the impact of COVID-19, and the daily influx of new information on this crisis, it is imp...

April 20, 2020
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There are 300 more icebreaker questions at the bottom of the article
How would you describe your job to a five year old?
What season would you be?
What is a weird food you have tried? Would you eat it again?
What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Would you go in the mother-ship with aliens if they landed on Earth tomorrow?
What is your favorite season?
Do prefer working from home or the office?
What is your earliest memory of this job?
What is the best thing you have bought so far this year?
What is the earliest book you remember?
If you had to move to another country, which one would you choose?
You are the best criminal mastermind in the world. What crime would you commit if you knew you would get away with it?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
What was the last thing you ate?
What person from history would you add to Mount Rushmore?
What is a weird fact you know?
What is your favorite part of working from home?
Were the Spice Girls a good team?
Imagine you can instantly learn any language. Which would you choose?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Which fictional team is the best team of all time?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What do you usually eat for a quick lunch?
What simple food will you never eat?
Show us the weirdest thing you have in the room with you right now.
Would you rather stay at a hotel or an AirBNB?
What is your favorite movie genre to watch?
Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
Who is someone in your community that makes a difference?
Who was your most unique pet?
Choose one famous person from history you want on your team during a zombie apocalypse.
What is a good way to give back to the community?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
Is Hugh Grant funny?
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Would you want to have an imaginary friend today? Did you have one as a child?
What actor or actress would you want to play you in the movie about your life?
What is the best super power?
What is your New Years resolution?
You can only eat one food again for the rest of your life. What is it?
What is the best work holiday?
What is the first gift you remember receiving?
Would you rather join Metallica or Backstreet Boys?
What is the best example of a community you have seen?
What is an easy way to do something nice for someone?
Show us your phone background and tell the story behind why you picked this image.
What was your first job?
Pick any band to play at your funeral.
If you could have an unlimited supply of one thing for the rest of your life, what would you pick?
Which superpower would you give to your arch enemy?
What is the most obscure superpower you would want?
What emoji best describes how you are feeling right now?
If you could live in any country, which country would you pick?
Would you rather live in a city or a town?
What is your favorite holiday?
What is something you accomplished as part of a team?
What is your standard office lunch?
What is your most used phone app?
What is your favorite season?
Have you ever won something as a team?
Imagine you are a professional baseball player. What is your introduction song?
Beach holiday or ski trip?
Have you ever been to a funny comedy show?
Would you rather live at the North Pole or the South Pole?
What is your favorite song to sing?
If you could live in any state, which state would you pick?
Imagine you could teleport anywhere. Where would you go right now?
What is the most unusual job you have heard of?
What was the last thing you ate?
You can visit any fictional time or place. Which would you pick?
What do your family and friends think you do all day?
What movie do you wish you could watch again for the first time?
Show us your most-used emoji.
What was the most unique style or fashion trend you ever embraced?
What movie defined your generation?
You are stranded on a remote desert island. Are you alone or with your worst enemy?
What is your favorite knock-knock joke?
Have you ever told someone Santa is not real?
Do you know how to speak more than one language?
On a scale of 1 – 10, how much of a team player are you?
What is your #1 recommendation in this city?
What is your favorite holiday?
What bucket list item do you most want to check off in the next six months?
What is your favorite mythical creature?
What was the first way you made money?
If you could be great at any Olympic sport, which would it be?
Which song could you listen to over and over again?
When did you start liking/hating mushrooms?
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
Do you take your PTO all at one time, or another way?
Which show do you remember most from your childhood?
Which beverage goes best with pizza?
Would you want to have a personal assistant follow you around everywhere and do what you asked of them?
Have you ever met your idol?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Would you rather live 100 years in the past or 100 years in the future?
What is your hobby?
When you are alone in the car, what volume is the music at?
Imagine you no longer have to work. How would you spend a Tuesday?
What is your favorite type of sandwich?

During this time of uncertainty with the impact of COVID-19, and the daily influx of new information on this crisis, it is important to recognize that all of us as humans are more stressed than usual. Each of us is working through changes and challenges in our daily routines, how to care for our family members and households, not to mention concerns about our jobs and workplaces. Company leaders and HR professionals are scrambling to make changes to keep employees as safe as possible. We also have an opportunity to find new ways to show employee appreciation, engage our teams, and keep our culture thriving.

There are many considerations regarding what may be best for your workplace. Here are some answers to common questions that you may be grappling with.

Should I let my staff work from home?
With many jurisdictions requiring businesses, buildings or events to close, your organization may face this decision before you are ready. Please follow the guidelines of the CDC and your state and local resources to understand the specific guidelines in your area and city.

Otherwise, this will depend upon the company, the type of work performed, and the technology available. The federal government is now urging companies to mobilize telecommuting for their workforce. If you have the technological ability to allow staff to work from home, it is something you should consider in order to help prevent the spread of the virus between coworkers and others they encounter.

If work from home is not feasible for your organization, you may want to consider staggering shifts, to reduce the number of workers at your workplace at one time. Work with your cleaning staff to wipe down doorknobs, countertops, conference room tables, to reduce the chance that the virus remains on workplace surfaces.

What is a good reason to work from home?
If employees experience any symptoms of cold or flu or if they report a close contact with someone who has such symptoms, they should be urged to stay home, per guidance from the CDC. If possible, and if they are well, consider allowing them to put in as many hours at home as they can. This will enable them to continue to earn income and will help the business continue to get work accomplishes.

How do you create a work from home policy?
Be as flexible as you can for your business, but set clear expectations. If you have rigid work schedules or strict attendance policies, now is the time to consider relaxing them. However, you should still be clear about the changes you are making, and what you expect. For example, you may need to set rules or processes about how to record work time, expected work hours, acceptable locations for remote work, or proper usage of technology. If you are concerned about setting a precedent for remote work when your business would ordinarily not allow it, make your policy clear that it is only temporary and specific to the dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.

How can I make sure my employees are working from home?
Some managers fear that if we allow folks to work from home, they will instead focus on personal matters and not be as productive. Most people are well-intentioned and strive to do a good job for their employers. Start by treating them as adults who are capable of meeting the demands of their job without requiring micromanagement. In managing remote workers, it is important to focus on results and hold employees accountable for meeting those expectations. While non-exempt employees are paid based on time worked, managers should focus on the outcomes of a day’s work to determine if the employee has been productive, versus focusing on precisely how many minutes they worked.

How do you manage remote employees?
Leveraging technology is a great way to help remote work teams be most productive. Many organizations have some type of video conference technology and instant messaging program. Also, using file-sharing technologies allows real-time cooperation on team projects. Cloud collaboration platforms such as Slack have many of these features to help your teams engage with each other, wherever they are. This can also bring a sense of teamwork and connection to your workforce when team members may be feeling isolated or craving interpersonal interaction.

Furthermore, when employees separated from one another, it’s important to continue to celebrate successes. This helps improve camaraderie, increases employee engagement and builds your culture. Particularly while employees are working remotely, put some extra attention and energy into your employee appreciation programs. Reward and recognize employees who go above and beyond, and leverage technology like Assembly to allow peers to provide public praise to one another. If you normally recognize birthdays and celebrate in the office, perhaps you can bring this to a virtual environment. Consider additional employee appreciation ideas such as allowing employees to earn badges, or collect points for redemption, and align these programs with the expectations of telework, company values, and goals.

Last but not least, increase communications one on one, in teams and company-wide. Now is the time for managers to increase the frequency and quality of their check-ins with employees. Make sure employees know that they can access their manager as often as they did in the office, and ensure that all contact information is shared. Team and company-wide communication should become more frequent as well – employees will want to hear from leadership regarding what is going on with business activity, customers and what adjustments they are making to deal with the virus and the economy. Don’t underestimate the power of employee appreciation – take time for genuine expressions of gratitude – and do so often, and publicly.

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