If you’re one of the many employees or businesses settling into the new norm of working remotely, you’re probably noticing a shift in how your remote teams communicate and connect. While working remotely can bring on many advantages such as more flexibility, less commute time, and better work-life balance, it also comes with certain challenges.
Challenges to working remotely
Creating connections between remote team members becomes increasingly difficult when employees are working in different places. They can be left feeling isolated or disconnected from the group without consistent efforts for connection. And they may have trouble with important communication because of it.
Not being able to see facial expressions or body language can also create a major disconnect in the ability to communicate effectively. These actions are a huge factor in how we communicate. Without them, true understanding of one another can get lost.
In order for your business to persevere, you will first need to persevere as a group.
Creating or maintaining connections between remote teams on a more personal level can help you to build a sense of community and team spirit — even from afar.
How to foster connections in remote teams
There are a few great ways to foster the important connection between remote teams and consistently remind them that you’re all in this together.
A shared calendar is a great way to inform others of what you have going on in your day. It lets them know when they might be able to speak with you should they need to.
Encourage employees to check in on each other and make time for conversations that aren’t related to work. By having access to each other’s calendars, remote teams are able to make these ‘water cooler moments’ spontaneous but convenient at the same time. Striking up a casual conversation with a team member is a great way to stay connected, but in a more natural way.
Use Video on Calls
Sometimes it’s easier to take a call from somewhere like the comfort of your own bed without your video on. While it’s great to be comfortable while working, having your video on during a conversation is an important part of communication for remote teams
The ability to see facial expressions and body language can add a lot to how you understand and interpret what someone is saying. It can improve your experience within a conversation and help you to feel a lot more connected.
Video calls can be somewhat awkward to start off. But they get a lot more comfortable over time as employees participate.
Encourage your employees to turn on their video and interact with one another.
Keep up with Regular Communication
Set meetings on a daily, weekly or monthly basis in order to keep up with regular team communication. While the consistency of your meetings and the subject matter discussed within them will vary, this time can be used in a number of ways to be effective.
Inform employees of happenings within the company and open up the floor for them to provide updates on what they are working on. This time could also serve as an opportunity for collaboration between team members, and help them to further develop connections between one another. A shared goal can bring on a lot of excitement and pride.
Let employees know that this is their time to share and interact with one another in terms of their work.
By the way, a great way to encourage communication within your team is with Q&A sessions. Here are our tips for effective employee Q&As to help you get better feedback.
Set up a Space for Non-Work-Related Conversations
Whether it be Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Skype, employees will appreciate having a space where they can talk to coworkers with a more casual approach.
Set up ice breaker questions like, “have you ever met anyone famous?” or “What was your first job?” These types of questions are more likely to stimulate conversation in remote teams and keep it flowing.
The typical question — “How was your weekend?” is more likely to bring your conversation to a dull end.
You might also want to set up specific channels in order for team members to share and relate to one another. One for pet photos, favorite jams, or the best spots for foodies, is bound to get the conversation going and help with making those important connections.
Fostering connections in remote teams is just one aspect of managing them. Click here for our other top tips for managing remote teams.
Schedule Activities for Remote Teams
Even though regular team activities like competitive bowling or team happy hour at the spot around the corner can’t happen in person, it’s still possible to put together team activities virtually. These activities can help remote teams get their minds off work while making some great connections with one another.
A scheduled virtual happy hour is a great way for team members to take a load off. At the same time, it helps build personal connections. Chat about your personal lives or set up a ‘drink of the week’ to discuss each other’s choices.
You could also plan activities like trivia, scavenger hunts, bingo, or even a team fitness challenge. The right activities will depend on your team, so be sure to pay attention to different personalities and their preferences. These genuine interactions will go a long way.
The adjustment to remote work life isn’t easy and creating a positive work culture for your team can take time. Look for opportunities to engage your remote teams and be sure to listen and respond to their needs.
The best type of remote team is one that is continuously open and encourages positivity in its culture.
Do you have any tips for fostering connections in remote teams I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments below!