You’ll never believe it.
The hotel technology disruptors @Impala hired someone to travel around Europe making people happy! (I know, right? Best. Job. Ever.)
It’s true though — I’m “her.” 🙋♀️
Of course, 2020 happened and I’ve been rightly grounded from flying until coronavirus is no longer a threat to public health and safety.
In the meantime, I’ve been busy building team connections and spearheading employee engagement initiatives on a fully-remote basis!
From virtual pub quizzes to team lunches, to game nights and more, here’s an inside look at what a “Remote Experience Manager” actually does and why it matters.
Why Impala sourced a R.E.M?
Because everybody hurts. (Kidding — but there’s truth in that, and actually, a Remote Experience Manager is a pain manager in the sense that they help to eliminate remote working pain points to ensure an engaging work experience outside of company headquarters.)
At Impala, people come first — no matter where they’re working from.
And for every remote work perk, there are drawbacks that oft get overlooked or tucked under the rug in exciting recruitment messaging and employer branding — loneliness, blurred work-life boundaries, and difficulty switching off to name a few.
Amidst huge plans for growth, we decided to directly and proactively bring someone into the fold to help Impalans stay ahead of the darker sides of remote working.
But how, exactly?
What does a Remote Experience Manager actually do?
So. So. Much.
On any given day, you may find me researching the latest remote working tools, resources, and trends; or planning, facilitating, and reporting on the impact of exciting internal changes and events.
Every day, you’ll find me connecting with team members — whether that’s through Slack, a virtual lunch, or a quick afternoon coffee break, workout, or game via Zoom.
So, somewhere between HR and internal comms sits me — the R.E.M — working on:
In every focus area, I’m looking for ways to enhance the work experience and increase Impalans’ happiness.
It’s not all fun and games though. . .just a lot of it. 😉
Here’s an inside look at some of the other ways my role supports Impala’s employee happiness and wellbeing strategy.
Sparking Employee Happiness The R.E.M. Way
1. Being a permanent Onboarding Buddy
Belonging and happiness start from day one and are cultivated in the smallest of daily exchanges. One thing I love about my role is I get to meet literally, every Impalan. As a permanent, all-team onboarding buddy, I get to host virtual welcome lunches for new starters where we expense the cost of fave takeaways and dine together al-desko over Zoom.
It’s a fantastic way to welcome people into the team, get some casual conversation flowing, and create an informal space for questions about company culture and happenings to arise. I happily become the go-to contact from there out if a problem or query comes up, breaking the: “Is this a silly question? Who should I ask?” comms barrier.
No welcome lunch is complete without a run-down of all the fun challenges, initiatives, and things to get involved in — so no Impalan is left out even if they’ve joined ‘late!’
2. Being a live resource for remote working challenges and needs
From helping people to secure their home-office kit to providing psychology-backed solutions for ‘switching off’ at the workday’s end, I’m your girl!
I’m always researching ways to become a more productive and happy remote worker, plus how to drive greater efficiency on remote and distributed teams.
For any remote working challenges that crop up, I’m the chief investigator — responsible for finding out if it’s an isolated case or widely trending; determining how best to approach solving the problem; and executing our strategy with tact and speed.
Where a third-party or external resource is the most appropriate fit, I get it into people’s hands as seamlessly and swiftly as possible.
3. Being a staunch employee advocate and cultural ambassador
I act as an ear and an advocate for employees — amplifying their voice and feedback across the organisation to drive meaningful change. Being available for 1:1s, leading internal polls, surveys, and focus groups are just a few forms this takes. Another (entirely not exclusive to me) is through championing our culture of care.
In a recent culture deep-dive, the most common word used to describe Impala’s culture was ‘caring’. Most-excitingly, this wasn’t attributed to benefits and perks. Instead, the way we interact with each other and respond to ‘life at work’ took the focus.
Yes, we offer flexible working — so people can engage in self-care and design their own work(flow) to achieve the work-life balance that’s important to them.
Yes, we regularly review our wide array of employee benefits and perks — ensuring they are relevant and making a meaningful difference to Impalans’ lives.
But finding ways to further support, recognise, and motivate team members depends on knowing them closely and evolving your culture with their insights.
That’s where the value of all the ‘chatter’ involved in my role comes into play.
4. Being a ‘fun-instigator’
I know what you’re thinking — mandatory fun? Please, no.
But our Pop-Up Parties are POP-U-LAR! (Not even sorry.) 🎉
We schedule these monthly to intentionally create space for colleagues to become friends — and not just within their prospective departments.
It works like this: 3–5 Impalans hop on a Zoom call facilitated by you-guessed-it (me), and play for 30 minutes. It’s a ‘fun-only’ block that breaks up the workday and leads to better communication, connection, and top-drawer inside jokes.
In our feedback surveys, Impalans agreed that these help to:
✔️ combat loneliness of remote working
✔️ increase opportunities to connect with colleagues
✔️ normalise taking breaks during the workday
Other bursts of fun are common throughout Impala’s workday — from silly challenges to group fitness hours, to pun wars, to Slack guessing games, and more.
Top Takeaways From Impala’s Remote Experience Manager
Whether or not your organisation is poised to hire their first (Remote) Experience Manager, one of the most impactful choices you can make is to prioritise connection in the workplace.
You can do this by intentionally dedicating time in the workday for socialising, having fun, and simply getting to know your employees on a personal level.
Helping people feel connected to their work and their colleagues is a recipe for creating the kind of engaging work experience that’s worth sticking around for.
As your company grows, assigning someone directly to be responsible for understanding and sustaining team happiness will serve you well.
Look for someone with strong emotional intelligence, empathy, communication skills, and heaps of optimism!
With or without a Remote Experience Manager — hold fast to the conviction that employee happiness matters!