Remote team engagement hasn’t changed. Teams that already consisted of individuals working in different cities aren’t doing much differently now than they did before in terms of engagement. What has changed is how many teams currently operate as remote teams even though they all live locally.

Many teams are now working remotely for the first time. They are brand new to this. It’s not that remote team engagement has changed; it’s that their entire team dynamic has changed.

For many teams, it has been a struggle. Managers were used to knowing what their team members were doing daily. They can no longer observe them at any given moment. To compensate, managers have increased Zoom meetings and Slack team messages with the underlying tone of “Engagement!”

Teams that are brand new to remote work can have both positive and negative characteristics. On the one hand, teams have to learn how to engage with each other in entirely new ways. Learning is always a good thing! On the other hand, the constant and newly implemented video meetings and group messages make accomplishing work that much harder.

Instead of allowing team engagement to happen naturally, which occurs when groups of people are all together in one place, it is being forced. The constant digital interaction is counterproductive to overall team engagement.

People naturally desire community – interaction with other human beings. When left to their own devices, team members will naturally communicate with each other, even when working remotely! The biggest challenge currently inhibiting remote teamwork is that some managers try to force it.


Instead, managers should be listening to what their people need and focus on serving those needs. Often, that includes having fewer Zoom calls. Here are a few additional tips for managers:

  • If you need updates, try having one-on-one sessions instead of group sessions. It will take a little more of your time to get updates this way, but your team will thank you.
  • When group sessions are necessary, and your team consists of 8 or more individuals, divide your team and make calls in smaller groups. You can even alternate who is in each group to mix things up. Too many people on a call will only be disruptive and hinder engagement.
  • Relationships are built in the break room. Teams need to have small talk away from work tasks. The best way to encourage this is a team session at the end of the week WITHOUT you, the manager, present. Allow time for the team to cut up and talk to each other.
  • If you trusted your team before the pandemic, trust them now also. People like to feel accomplishment through their work. That means most people will get their job done. They don’t need regular check-ins to get it done. That said, consequences for lack of performance should be made very clear.