How do you keep your team together in times of remote working and increased digital contact?
One of the biggest challenges of not meeting in our normal work environment every day is satisfying our human need for socializing with each other, hanging on to that feeling of being part of something and developing our relationships. Of course, there are teams that are used to working from a distance, but right now I meet lots of teams in crisis who are used to going to work, having coffee together, laughing together and sharing those everyday things that make us form relationships with each other. When they’re suddenly forced to work from home, there are no structures for maintaining social health and a good work environment. As a leader, you can be a role model by giving your team the structure to keep up the social aspect, digitally. It is extra important to create forums where we can cultivate our social health, even when we’re not seeing each other organically at work. Remote working is a skill that needs practice. Here are 7 tips for maintaining that team feel, when the team has suddenly been split up.
Have a Morning Coffee
Often, there’s a lot of chit chatting by the coffee machine in the morning. Invite your coworkers to have a digital morning coffee and do a “check-in” before the day starts. How is everything going, how is everyone feeling? What should be our focus for the day? Does anybody need help or support with something?
Have Lunch with a Colleague
When it’s time for lunch, we often get together with someone and eating together has been important for mankind throughout history, from the Stone Age’s gathering around the fire, to the present day’s restaurant culture. Invite a colleague to a video meeting, have your lunch together, and hang out. Of course, this can feel a little strange at first, but it’s a matter of practice.
Create a “Playroom”
Laughter and humor are the fastest ways of creating contact between people, a fact which is often forgotten when the organic meetings at the office, disappear. Create a forum, a specific chat thread or something similar, where you can share stories, funny video clips and other things that can brighten up everyday life. Laughter also gives the mind a break and helps restore energy.
Gather the team for 20 minutes of yoga or other exercise, there are lots of short instruction videos on YouTube that you can use, if none of you feel comfortable leading the group. Suddenly finding yourself working from home, in an environment that isn’t ergonomically designed for it, makes it even more important to make sure you take breaks and don’t forget about daily exercise and movement.
Have “How Are You?” Meetings on Video
When we’re not looking at each other it is even more challenging to pick up on signals from each individual person. Schedule “how are you?” meetings, with no agenda, systematically with everyone in your team. It’s extra important to be seen and heard when all work is being done from a distance.
Celebrate the End of the Week, Perhaps by Going for a Digital Drink?
It’s easy for the lines between work and spare time to become blurred if you don’t have a clear structure for work. Having an end-of-the-week meeting on Fridays can be just as important as having startup meetings, where goals and activities are communicated. Perhaps you can combine Friday meetings with going for a digital drink, doing a high five together, celebrating the week, removing the computer from the kitchen table or closing the door to the office and starting the weekend.