Although the remote work trend was gradually gathering steam, times being what they are with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many people have found themselves leading remote teams from their homes.
Working remotely provides a flexible work arrangement that allows people to work from home. For some people, the flexible work style is more of a demand than a necessity, with people turning down jobs because they don’t provide an adaptable work arrangement.
Even though workers love the freedom of working remotely, there’s a dark side of remote work that people are not willing to discuss. It involves loneliness from lack of interaction and engagement.
The truth is human connection is essential. Even as an experienced team leader, you may have found that establishing and maintaining remote work relationships is a bit difficult. But the current situation is an entirely different ballgame, and it’s okay to worry that the pandemic will make team relationships even more challenging to maintain.
The good news is there are some things you can do to build and maintain cohesive social relationships among your team members to protect them from feeling alone and isolated. One of the ways is to click here and use SignalWire Work to get a complete office alternative in your web-browser.
Here is a list of tips that will help you maintain company culture and keep your remote team connected.
1. Plan Virtual Social Events
A great way of keeping the team connected is by scheduling time for socializing, even virtually. Just because the team is working remotely doesn’t mean group social events should die and become a distant memory.
It could be a pizza party, book club, or activities that involve each team member sharing a skill they have, such as painting. For instance, you could all share a virtual office lunch since lunch breaks are a great time for employees to bond.
Also, try to make it as natural as possible by not making the events too formal. It goes without saying that remote work is not routine, especially if you’ve shifted from the typical office setup to remote work.
So, while some staff members may be fortunate enough to have a separate home office, others may not so try and make fun of moments where their pets show up on the computer screen, or their kids start calling them out.
This will introduce a fun and new dimension to how the team bonds.
2. Try to Meet Physically a Few Times Each Year
This tip is not for everyone, but we encourage you to consider it nonetheless.
Online chat and video meetings are great, but there is no perfect substitute for in-person connections. The most productive remote teams still spend some time, no matter how small, in a shared space where team members get to interact in person.
Set aside a budget every year to send the whole team on a retreat. It doesn’t have to be a big getaway. Even a tiny luncheon on a Saturday afternoon can work just fine.
By sharing meals, people will bond and interact on a completely different level than they never would from video conferencing.
3. Less Email Communication and More Video Facetime
Video conferencing tools have experienced an incredible boom over the past couple of years. Zoom, for instance, has seen its daily active users grow to 200 million from 10 million in just three months.
This doesn’t come as much of a shock because video conferencing provided the closest thing to face-to-face meetings for many work teams.
Yes, emails and instant messaging are important tools for employee connection and collaboration. But sometimes, it’s a lot easier and direct to speak instead of typing. It also helps avoid miscommunication since a lot of our communication is nonverbal, and a lot may get lost between sending emails.
For this reason, make sure you schedule regular video calls with your team, even if it’s just to check up on them and find out how they’re feeling or what they’ve been up to. Let everyone weigh in on the conversation and give each person a chance to ask questions or raise concerns.
With people not working in the typical office setting anymore, you can quickly lose touch with employees from other departments, primarily if you work in a large company.
As such, organize video calls with other departments, especially those that you collaborate with frequently. This way, you will help promote team spirit since every team member will be kept in the loop of what’s going on and will also know who to reach out to when necessary.
4. Organize a Team Challenge
Team challenges are an excellent way of getting people together, and keeping team spirits high is engaging them in some friendly competition.
You can try a diet or exercise challenge from home, especially since people’s everyday workout routines were disrupted. You can also do yoga and meditation sessions to encourage a healthy work-from-home attitude. Trivia night is especially popular and is easy to set up using apps like Slack.
As long as it’s something that gets everyone engaged, involved, and entertained outside of the regular work routine, it’s bound to be a success.
If team members aren’t into contests and having a little competition, there are still other ways of building camaraderie. You can have ‘get to know me’ sessions or have themed dress-up days. The trick is to find something that works for everyone without making anyone feel segregated or uncomfortable.
We’re All in This Together
One benefit of working in an office is the ease at which people interact and foster harmonious, productive relationships. But with social distancing and lockdowns still in effect in many countries across the globe, a lot of people are spending more time at home working. This work arrangement has team leaders concerned with how they can keep employees engaged.
As highlighted in this article, remote work does not have to be any less interactive. You can still use the same technology that facilitates remote work to develop creative ways to engage each other virtually.
Remember, communication is the key to success. Strong relationships help people stay productive during these challenging times and will ensure business continuity.