Managing a Remote Team: Three Ideas for Employee Engagement

Work From Anywhere (WFA) has been a game changer for Canadians: it’s given people the flexibility they need during these challenging times, has allowed many to save money due to lower transportation costs, and has fast-tracked the idea that you don’t need to be at an office to get the job done.

For companies, WFA can cut operating expenses, including rent (if an office downsizes to a smaller footprint or eliminates it altogether) and utilities. That said, WFA is not without its challenges. According to a Statistics Canada survey, a lack of interaction with colleagues was listed as one of the biggest barriers to productivity. That goes to show that not only is there room to engage employees further, but teamwork is still what makes the WFA dream work.


According to the same Statistics Canada survey:

• The vast majority of teleworkers reported being at least as productive at home as they were at their usual place of work

• 48% of teleworkers reported accomplishing more work per hour while WFA

• 80% of new teleworkers indicated a preference to continue to WFA at least half of each workweek, post-pandemic

“As we move through the pandemic, companies are developing their own ecosystem in terms of remote work processes. Leaders agree that WFA has been successful,” said Jane Gleadall, President at Fellowes Canada, at the Work from Anywhere Insider Solutions webinar hosted by Staples Spotlight.


Given the popularity of WFA and its benefits (when done right), organizations should prioritize successful remote team building. Here are three steps to consider.

1. Equip them with key tools needed to WFA

Other common barriers to telework productivity include difficulties accessing work-related information and devices, and/or having inadequate physical workspace. Organizations can bypass these issues by equipping remote workers with the tools they need to succeed.

While Fellowes Canada already had a remote work policy, Gleadall says they quickly realized the need to provide the right tools for their employees to work effectively if they were going to be WFA full-time. “At the office, we had the tools and space needed to get the job done. Through employee and manager relationships, we discovered that if we wanted to maintain productivity levels with our employees, we needed to provide them those tools at home. We offered everything from footrests to monitors, shredders, chairs and more,” said Gleadall.

The Work from Home Solutions from Staples has video conferencing equipment, office essentials and other products and services to transition any size team to WFA. You can even ship to multiple addresses while billing through one account.

2. Try virtual team building activities

With office watercooler conversations and after work socializing on pause, now’s the time to invest in virtual team building activities.

• Sign up for a virtual class: Use Airbnb Online Experiences to share unique team-building workshops like a sommelier-led tea tasting streamed from Bengaluru, India, or an interactive motivational talk from Olympic gold medal winner Michelle Carter, to name just two.

• Book a team adventure: Hire a company that specializes in virtual team building activities to create a custom escape room, trivia contest or company game show to help your team bond.

• Try a Zoom beverage cart: Use a delivery service to send over bevvies and snacks, then enjoy a video conference social hour.

3. Pick up the phone

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of the old-school phone call. In an era of faceless email and “Zoom fatigue,” there’s something to be said for a friendly chat, minus the pressure of looking presentable for a video call. Sometimes a casual 5-minute phone call can do more to cut the ice than any activities you could plan!

“Spend more time talking to your people. Take a few minutes to talk about home life, rather than business,” said Don Smith, Senior VP, Sales, Living Style Group, at the Work from Anywhere Insider Solutions webinar. “Empathy and active listening are critical. Doing this has helped us connect more with our team members and customers.”

Want more telework inspiration? Find the products, services and expertise that can help your team Work From Anywhere.

By Staples Canada

May 31, 2021