The last year has proven that remote work is a viable alternative to a traditional office. Productivity levels have generally stayed the same or increased, and more companies are buying in. But for some businesses, working remotely has presented challenges with employees feeling connected to their teammates.
Here’s how employers can help create feelings of greater connection among remote colleagues.
Reimagine a Dynamic Culture of Remote Work
Employees who are feeling less connected with their peers than they did while working in an office are no doubt hankering for their previous workplace culture. While it’s obviously not possible to replicate the exact experience of working in-person, think about which elements of your previous culture you could reintroduce in a virtual setting.
For example, if employees had opportunities to spontaneously connect and collaborate in the hallways at work, why not designate certain times of the day or week for this type of interaction online, when people can gather for support and to blow off steam? You can create dedicated virtual meeting spaces through Zoom, Google Meet, or Slack.
Another way to boost engagement and connection for remote workers is to survey them on what they liked best about in-person meetings, and see if you can bring some of the same elements into remote meetings. If someone brought snacks every Thursday for the standup meeting, for instance, can you budget to have the same treats delivered once a month to those participating in the meeting virtually?
Give Workers Outlets to Share Support
Those who are suffering from a coworker disconnect need touch points to generate or reestablish meaningful relationships with their remote teammates. Employers can help workers by facilitating connection points and offering virtual support groups for people who face similar problems.
Poll staff members (anonymously if needed) on the challenges they’re facing at work and at home, then use the common threads to help you create internal channels or support groups. Creating these types of outlets for staff helps people feel less alone and more bonded with others who are in similar circumstances.
Up the Fun Factor
During a stressful and harried work period, shared enjoyable experiences that make people laugh can quickly forge connections. In order to actualize these virtually, though, you need to be intentional. Some teams get to know each other by sharing visuals of their work-from-home setups. Being able to place a person with the place where they get their job done can create talking points and help workers who previously had no connection recognize commonalities. It can also inspire employees to maximize the potential of their own home office.
You could also try coming up with a fun idea, like Bonusly’s “Starch Madness” games. This pitted 16 forms of potatoes against each other, culminating in a festive finale. As they tweeted about the experience: “Connecting over Slack for the sole purpose of having fun is something we’ve always done as a team, but now that we’ve gone fully remote, the spuds showdown is reminding us to slow down and appreciate each other as we try to help our customers do the same thing.”
It’s fair to say that meaningful connections among coworkers may not occur as easily when people are working in different places. But if managers are intentional about creating cultural similarities between the work-from-home world and the office, companies can help reverse feelings of coworker disconnection.
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By Robin Madell | March 25, 2021 | Categories: Remote Management
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