February 24, 2021

Gamification helps remote workers stay engaged, focused and connected.

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Work style changes require new business tools that alleviate teams feeling disconnected, disjointed and disengaged.

Remote work is no longer a perk or a one-off request submitted to your HR department. With cards reshuffled pandemic-style and almost a year of settling into a new normal, the blinders must come off: our office and business relationships have experienced permanent change.

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According to Upwork’s “Future Workforce Pulse” report, published in December 2020, by 2025, 36.2 million people will be working remotely in the US alone. That’s an 87% increase from pre-pandemic times.

In some cases, productivity is going up, mostly in fields already adapted to this work model. However, for too many professionals, feeling united while being apart just isn’t happening. Disconnection is real, and distress is just around the corner. The Gallup report “State of the Global Workplace” stated that disengagement was at an all-time high of 87% before the onset of the Coronavirus.

With this in mind, how does a business create engagement, connection, and a sense of belonging, when everyone is working from a distance? Kindly keep reading. We’ve got a couple of ideas that will help you.

Out of sight, out of mind?

As managers and business owners, we worry.

  • Do our teams feel committed and attached, or is isolation seeping in?
  • How do we inspire, motivate, support, and guide from a distance? Can we?
  • What about small talk, brainstorming, and an overall sense of belonging?

Bottom line: must we meet in person to survive and thrive?

The short answer is no. Not necessarily.

Sure, human psychology experts will tell you that physical presence is vital for relationship building and upholding. It’s proven and true. In business, however, there’s got to be a way to recreate proximity, presence, accountability, and enthusiasm.

A Benefit news article called “How to gamify the remote work experience to keep employees engaged” answers our question:

“Interestingly enough, the answer is the same whether we’re in the office or not: get to know your employees. That might feel even harder now, but it doesn’t have to be. All you need are the right tools.”

Gamification has lots of tools. But first, let’s identify what difficulties arise from being in scattered locations.

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Image source: Ryan Baer

Several of the issues stated in the pie chart above relate to connectivity. The human kind. But before you start gamifying your experience, figure out WHY you’re doing it.

Engagement, productivity, morale and metrics are common motivators. Are these yours?

The 4 Cs you can (and should) gamify

Company Culture

What does your company believe in? What matters? What actions do you reward, and what type of workplace do you want to create? These questions relate to your company culture, something that’s easy to imagine onsite, but equally important online.

A gamification platform allows you to give rewards for meaningful actions that support your culture. Are individuals helping their co-workers, accomplishing tedious yet necessary tasks, sending words of encouragement, supporting a project, submitting great ideas? Think of what ties your people together. Is it community help? A specific cause? An important mission? Help others see member contributions, beyond the figures they bring in. Everybody appreciates positive recognition.

Your onboarding experience is a good way to start this analysis. What happens when a new employee or client joins your ranks? Is your process fun, useful, interesting, and clear? What could you create, so the person immediately feels like a part of the team and senses what your company is all about?

Communication

Great communication is based on clarity.

Gamification tools can help provide constant, honest feedback and the connectivity required to get things done fast and support connectivity and conversation, just like in a regular office workplace.

Watch while it’s happening

Spreadsheets will tell you how well your team players did at the end of the month, but you can’t witness the process, see where and when things snag, identify people that may need a nudge, or adjust whatever’s required to surpass your collective goals. With gamification, creating micro-targets for calls, meetings, presentations, prospect acquisition, or even knowledge transfer within your team is simple, fast, and, you guessed it, fun! That said, tracking can also include KPIs like sales, closed deals, and even revenue targets.

We all need to feel seen and be heard

Check-in. And check-in often. When you’re working at the office, spontaneity is simple. See someone, walk over, and tell them how great you think they’re doing on such and such project. These conversations can quickly be neglected when you’re remote. But they shouldn’t have to be. You can use gamification to ask how people are doing, listen, provide ways to connect, meet with individuals one-on-one and create a sense of visibility and belonging.

Personal goals within a larger mission

Everybody’s unique, and what makes one person tick, may not cause another to flinch. Therein lie the beauty and complexity of human beings. Gamification helps you set personal goals for each employee, incorporate coaching, create scorecards, analyze strengths and weaknesses, and provide teams with the right collective objectives. Reinforce coaching and recognition through challenges, training capsules, and surveys, for example.

Collaboration

Creating a sense of belonging can be challenging but vital to achieving your business’s goals. Funny thing is, even in an office setting, it’s not a given that smooth collaboration is going to happen. Tasks sometimes fall through the cracks; accountability isn’t always perfect, and some people find it easier than others to work as a team. Well implemented gamification tools mean that you’ve got teams that know and understand who’s doing what at the end of the day. Even when they’re in different time zones.

When your collaborators can track their efforts, plus see what their colleagues are up to, everyone can see how much they’re contributing to a company’s success. In the long run, this sustains motivation and keeps everyone happier.

Competition, the friendly kind

Some people thrive on a little competition and have fun poking others to do the same. Use it to your company’s advantage by hosting friendly gamified competitions. A team that plays together usually thrives together, and if you’re creative with compensation, it can amp up the results.

Rewards can range from popular gift cards to monthly bonuses and even charitable contributions to causes the employee care’s about. When you know your people, it’s easy to find rewards that will matter and move them.

You’ve been using Teams and Zoom for months. Change it up.

Microsoft Teams and Zoom are useful as standard collaboration technologies, but the same format gets old fast. Notice wandering eyes while you’re talking, people multitasking, or worse, video cameras that mysteriously stop working? Perhaps you feel like a foreign correspondent waiting for your turn to speak and be seen. It’s not ideal.

With innovative 3D conferences, gamification spins the concept on its head, transforming a static, somewhat uncomfortable environment into a more spontaneous social setting that resembles real meetings. Imagine an online experience, similar to a video game, but in a professional setting. Regardless of where they are on the planet, your team can work the room, interact with micro-groups, meet with clients, customers or partners, while letting their personalities shine and conversations flow. Showcase company culture, support communication, encourage collaboration and enchant your clients while doing all of the above.

Ever quit something because it was boring or too hard? Don’t let that happen.

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You may not know Mihály Csíkszentmihályi by name, but you’ve probably heard of his theory of flow. The belief is that people are happiest when they are in a state of flow—a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. This is a state of perfect balance, where a task is neither too challenging nor too easy. While in flow, a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process. This where our best work is performed.

Companies in nearly every industry are leveraging gamification to create a state of flow for employees, enhance customer satisfaction, and enable highly-engaging feedback for learning and development. Well applied, it creates positive, sustained employee and customer loyalty.

The 5-day office routine is forever gone, and the shape of the future workplace is slowly emerging. Early adopters have already turned to gamification, creating new, thrilling environments that distinguish them from the competitors. As we all step further into this new remote working normality, consider a reliable engagement tool that’ll help you and your team adapt and flourish as a business.

The right gamification company creates an experience that looks and feels like your people by building challenges they’ll love, metrics they understand, competitions that’ll fire them up, and rewards that speak to who you, and they, are.

You can read more on how to monitor your gamification solution in Funifier’s blog post: Measuring Gamification in its latest blog.

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Igor Radić,

Funifier Partner & CEO

Expert in Change Management & Engagement Solutions

[email protected]


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