How Gamifying remote work can motivate your team through COVID-19

Social distancing is a must right now with COVID-19 wrecking havoc around the world. However, for a lot of people, this entails the need to work remotely for the first time. Working remotely has been a grey area that has largely been underappreciated and undervalued by a lot of organizations and individuals. The comfort of one’s home is neither an easy nor a workable environment. 

There are numerous distractions and for a lot of people, their homes are places of rest and rehabilitation. To suddenly convert this atmosphere into a work station is close to impossible and this results in an overall lack of motivation. Work outputs drastically drop and this can cause friction between the employees and the employer. So the question now arises as to how one can overcome the pitfalls of procrastination. The solution that is being proposed by us is to gamify the whole process. 

The Foundation

The core aspect of the gamification process is going to revolve around MMORPGs or Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. These games tend to be intensive and gamers pour hours and hours of their time playing the game. The games are designed to be simple enough for casual gamers to pick up but also intricately built for hardcore gamers to enjoy. The focus of these games is on three key factors: Personalization, Objective Completion, and Reward/ Recognition. 

The remote work environment needs to focus on the core factors that MMORPGs utilize. This will help bring about a virtual culture that promotes the completion of organizational objectives. The need for a virtual work culture cannot be understated since, in most companies, it is non-existent. People are tasked with completing the same number of hours without a collaborative work environment and in an environment that they usually don’t affiliate with work. 

Three P’s: Personalization, Purpose, Productivity

The first aspect is to personalize the experience for the employee by helping them understand the purpose beyond the need for maintaining the profitability of the company. For a lot of people, the message comes across that regardless of a global pandemic, the company wants you to work to ensure that the company remains profitable. Employers can argue that employees either work or take-up unpaid leave. However, such a brash approach wouldn’t be taken at the workplace and it shouldn’t be taken in this situation as well. 

The tasks that an individual usually does at work need to be broken down into two forms of quests. The first quest is a day-to-day objective quest that every employee needs to fulfill in the given time period. The second quest is either a weekly or monthly objective that a team together has to achieve. The weekly quest requires each team member tasked with completing their task along with day-to-day quests. Each quest has to be broken down further into SMART goals and an incentive needs to be added to promote quality and quantity of work output. The incentive, in this case, doesn’t have to be monetarily driven and instead needs to be driven by recognition rewards.

EXAMPLE CASE:  A company that deals with digital marketing can have a daily quest called Insta-Gator quest and a weekly quest titled Digi-Champion Quest. Each quest can have different levels of completion. An employee who completes 100% of both daily and weekly quests can be given the title of Golden Knight. While an employee who completes 50% to 75% of the quests can be given the title Silver Knight. Companies can get creative with the naming of quests and recognition rewards. 

Mastery and Remote Training

To ensure that employees continuously learn and to intertwine the purpose of the L&D team at the organization, the concept of mastery needs to be promoted. Mastery in games is the skill level needed to attempt and complete a particular task. If a particular weekly objective of the company requires individuals to attend a webinar. The company can prompt the need for a webinar as a way to master the skill needed to complete the task. The quest completion is intertwined with incentives. There will also be far greater acceptance and motivation to utilize the virtual training options that the company puts forward. And most importantly, when employees return to work there isn’t that big of a blockade in learning and training that they need to overcome. 

EXAMPLE CASE: the Digi-Champion quest could require them to take up a webinar on Google Ad Words and only those who take up the webinar are then allowed to complete the objectives under the quest. This essentially is the core of the weekly quests, they help organizations ensure that employees are trained and objectives are met while employees are given recognition for mastery and completion. 

Autonomy and Accountability 

The final foundational element that companies need to focus on is Autonomy. Even companies with strict supervision over its employees need to understand that employees are at the comfort of their own home. In such a scenario, it is crucial to promote autonomy and not make tasks time-bound as much as possible. The day-to-day quests should have an expiration time. However, constant monitoring of employees over the phone or through other interfaces needs to be restricted to the minimum. 

With everything that is happening in the outside world, the onus of keeping employees motivated is on the employer. Placing time-based restrictions can have far-reaching consequences since the employee now has to suddenly balance their work and family commitments. Autonomy needs to be promoted along with accountability. An employee should be given the freedom to complete the task in the given time but should not be made to feel like they are under arrest with an ankle monitor. 

The Minimal Requirement

Encourage your employees to set routines and to spend ample time with their families and to take enough rest. It would be farcical to burnout employees who are having to cope with a pandemic on the rise. Communicate with your employees without making them feel like Big Brother is watching. Hold them accountable and find creative solutions to overcome motivational blockades. Remember this is not just new territory for you but also for your employees.


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Suryakumar Appu

Suryakumar Appu

I am working towards becoming a Behavioral Architect and Social Engineer. I strongly believe that empathy is the key to unlocking the full capabilities of human potential. Also, co-founder of Thurit.

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