The pandemic has transformed our definition of “normal,” especially when it comes to our work lives. The line between work and home is undeniably more blurred than ever, with more than 40% of the respondents to an MIT SMR survey confirming that they do not draw a hard line between the time they are working and time reserved for leisure and renewal. With online digital platforms (both work and social) constantly prodding, it is oftentimes difficult to keep on task with your real work—especially with the average remote workday even increasing by 48 minutes.

With the majority of all of our interactions happening online, burnout levels are high. According to an online poll conducted by Monster in mid-2020, 69% of workers are experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home. So what can business owners and managers do to help mitigate these increasingly worrying side effects from the remote work world? Below we will outline the top ways to not only engage your workers but hopefully help to stimulate their productivity in this disjointed remote work environment.

Setting the (helpful) line in the sand

Constructing a clear structure with a measurable foundation to compare and improve against is an important first step for businesses in this uncharted remote work territory. Clear expectations and requirements for tasks and goals should be explained, centralized, and then readily available so that employees understand them and can circle back if needed.

It is also important to establish goals for the month, quarter, and year to keep your team engaged, motivated, and invested in the company’s mission. Set communication channels specific to questions, projects, meetings, suggestions, ideas, etc. so team members know where to share particular thoughts and needs. This keeps everyone streamlined and connected to the mission and goals for the business.

Invest in your team

Prioritize the mental wellbeing and collective spirit of your staff during these times. Hold regular virtual check-ins and 1:1s to let your team members know they have a space to voice concerns and access support. This creates a positive team atmosphere and connectedness that you want in order to keep everyone engaged, productive, and hitting their goals.

This can also mean investing in team development and training. Try and seek out those skills or programs that would help your team and business that are also something that team members are interested in learning—then find a person in that area of expertise to do the training.

Staying social

Consider a monthly online social to just connect as humans. Some ideas include virtual coffee time to chat about people’s families, weekend activities, and hobbies or a pet day where everyone brings their pets to the online meeting for a furry fun time.

Another option is to end your day with a virtual happy hour where you can virtually toast to appreciate your teammates or just have some social time. To make it even more enticing for your team consider sending a coffee gift card, pet treats, a bottle of wine, or preferred beverage so it feels even more special and rewarding for your team.

Walking your way into more productivity 

One advantage to the current work landscape is increased flexibility around people’s work schedules. Companies can make the most of this flexibility by implementing walking meetings.

Walking meetings were a popularized way to get people inspired even before the pandemic. Walking out in nature has been shown as one way to mitigate stress, with research into walking meetings showing that they can increase creative thinking by up to 60%. Creative inspiration can help to increase productivity, motivation, and critical thinking—not to mention that a breath of fresh air goes a very long way these days. Your company should also make it clear that there are no slides to look at and that no one has cameras on to ensure that people are truly absorbing the benefits of walking and absorbing their surroundings.

Create a two-way street of communication

Give opportunities for employees to give you feedback. Your workers are the ones with boots on the ground and could have some very valuable insight as to how to improve or evolve the company.

You can implement this with a simple survey that asks questions across a broad spectrum of categories, and gauges their satisfaction within the company. 360 surveys are a great all-encompassing way to define employee attitudes, burnout tendencies, loyalty, workplace climate, and competitive intelligence—which are all key indicators of retention, satisfaction, and productivity.

Give appreciation

Give recognition and rewards to team members to show your appreciation for a job well done and encourage a remote culture where people feel valued. This token of company gratitude could come in the form of an internal recognition, gift cards, promotions or raises, or even a spa day.

This also means showing appreciation for special days in your employee’s lives. This could be a special gift sent for the holidays, or maybe a special event like a holiday dinner party (whether in person or via zoom). Celebrate birthdays in a fun way as well, with anything from a lunchtime face-to-face call, a birthday cake, or fruit bouquet or flowers delivered to celebrate your team member’s special day.

Navigating the nuances of the remote work world is a challenge for any business, and it is safe to say that there is no perfect equation to any of it. However, by incorporating some of the strategies above you can help to engage your employees—encouraging their productivity and thereby inciting the peak performance for your businesses as a whole.

Lesley Pyle (pictured) is the founder and owner of Unlike mega career sites, focuses strictly on home-based jobs and projects that work perfectly for savvy entrepreneurs and today’s modern moms. Since launching in 2007, we’ve helped over 10,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses find the right freelancers or remote employees for their company.