As the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, so did the need for remote work across industries. The stats are interesting, to say the least. 91% of Asia Pacific teams have already implemented some form of remote teamwork. 88% of organizations have required or encouraged their workers to complete their tasks from home.
If you’re facing a remote work situation for the first time, it’s no wonder why you’re confused. The working environment as you knew it, is no longer the same.
But you know what? A strong company culture doesn’t have to be affected by remote work. With the right tools and a change in mindset, all team members will stay productive and willing to collaborate.
Let’s see: how can leaders motivate their team members to collaborate and stay close while working online?
7 Tips: How to Build a Connection with a Remote Team
1. Create a Space for Casual Chattings
Do you know why it’s hard for people to connect with their team members while working online? They miss the casual chats that occur during work and lunch breaks. They miss the after-work parties. They only send emails about work, and their communication is strictly professional.
As a team leader, you have power to change that. You need to create a safe space, where casual communication will thrive. A simple hello in the morning can trigger a nice conversation that extends throughout the day. You can share links with funny content, tell a joke, or ask everyone how their day was in the evening. You can even exchange photos of your pets,. Don’t forget about memes; those are always fun!
These simple icebreakers can replace the social life that office workers love.
What about the space? Where can you create it? A private Facebook group is the first idea that comes to mind. However, you should know that not everyone is and wants to be on Facebook. In addition, social media is a major source of distractions. It’s no wonder why so many people block all social media sites while working online. You need another solution.
You can count on Google Hangouts, Skype, or Slack’s Channels feature.
2. Develop an Onboarding Program
If you’re hiring new members in the team, you have to help them get through the accommodation process. A formal onboarding process is important for remote work. You can connect the new worker with a more experience team member, who will explain everything about the tasks and will offer support throughout their completion.
At this point, knowing how to take a screenshot on Mac can save the day. If your team uses specific tools that new members don’t know how to handle, you have to explain the features, step by step.
You have to think about the social aspect of onboarding, too. Until the situation with the pandemic is under control, you can’t rent an Airbnb and bring everyone together. The “buddy system” that you develop through informal communication will play a crucial role during this process. Instruct everyone to be welcoming to new members.
3. Encourage Feedback and Use It
Your team members should know that you appreciate and consider their opinions. That’s how they develop the attitude of loyalty towards the team and the brand. They feel that the bond with their manager is stronger when they know that they listen to suggestions.
Create a simple survey that you’ll send on a monthly basis. These are the questions you can include:
- What was the most challenging task this month?
- What was the most exciting task this month?
- What improvements would you suggest for the work process?
- Let’s choose the team member of the month together: who deserves the title this month?
You should have separate surveys for onboarding and exit. They will tell you what the workers expect from their careers and what improvements you can make to prevent them from leaving.
The most important thing is to listen! When someone makes a wise suggestion, do everything in your power to implement it in your strategies.
4. Schedule Video Conferences
Chatting can replace the social element of work only to a certain extent. When working online, you can schedule video chats. They will make your team members feel more connected to each other.
We’ll be honest: video calls are awkward at the beginning. For someone who’s not used to that type of communication, they are a burden. But after a few 15-minute calls, everyone will get used to the new reality.
These video conferences will be professional most of the time. You’ll share plans, tasks, and guidelines. You’ll use the opportunity to motivate the team through direct conversations. But don’t forget to schedule casual video chats as well. You can have a monthly book club, or discuss TV shows!
5. Schedule Virtual Coffee Breaks
Coffee breaks are the favorite element of working in an office. Nothing can relax you as the aroma and taste of freshly brewed coffee over a small talk with your colleagues. When working online, your team members shouldn’t miss that part of the job.
You can schedule brief coffee breaks throughout the day. These shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes since they can turn into a distraction if they are too long. You should be flexible; this is not a work task and it’s not mandatory. If someone wants to use the break for something else, they should be free to do that.
For those who participate in the virtual coffee breaks, you can assign a conversation theme. You can also randomize video calls to pair different workers every day. That will create an even stronger bond within the team.
Don’t forget the coffee! You can deliver high-quality coffee to everyone’s address. Hey; include espresso machines if the company’s budget allows that. You’ll make your employees happy for being part of that team.
Remote Work Should Not Lead to Social Isolation
“Social distancing” is not the new norm. We can talk about physical distancing to protect ourselves from the virus. But we should work on social connections even more. We’re so lucky to have the Internet. Let’s use it well!
You can create close connections within the team through a few strategies:
- Create a casual chatting space
- Develop a good onboarding program
- Encourage and use feedback
- Schedule video conferences
- Have video coffee breaks with the team
In other words, you should focus on making the remote job more fun for everyone. That’s possible only if you allow and encourage the workers to talk to each other about something other than work tasks.
About the author:
James Dorian is a technical copywriter. He is a tech geek who knows a lot about modern apps that will make your work more productive. James reads tons of online blogs on technology, business, and ways to become a real pro in our modern world of innovations.
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