Working remotely comes with many benefits—from eliminating your commute to giving you more time with your family. But one drawback is not being around your coworkers. The atmosphere, camaraderie, and spontaneous conversations that happen when everyone’s together in an office are impossible to replicate at home and it becomes difficult to create community. In fact, socializing with coworkers is the number one reason employees want to return to the office, according to a May 2020 survey from recruiting site Glassdoor®.
So how do you build relationships and recreate that environment remotely? Here are five ways to keep your workforce connected.
Organize company activities
Hosting fun events on video conferencing platforms such as Zoom™ is a great way to build community and boost morale. Trivia contests, cooking classes, and group workouts are all types of experiences employees can enjoy together. You can also incorporate family-friendly activities where kids can be included, such as concerts or magic shows.
Your company should schedule these sessions on a regular basis, but don’t make them mandatory—if people feel forced to attend, it could have a negative impact.
Set up employee groups
Resource groups give workers a chance to meet people with similar interests and work toward a common goal. Your business can sponsor organizations supporting diversity, women, parents, the LGBTQ community, and many more. Have these groups hold company-wide events to raise awareness, show off their work, and encourage people to sign up.
Hold training for leaders
For many managers, this may be the first time they or their teams have worked remotely. If they’re used to being in an office, they might not have the skills needed to run a remote team, so they should seek advice from leaders who have experience supervising a team from home. These sessions can provide tips on how to adjust management styles, hold effective meetings, and keep workers productive and engaged.
Encourage team events to create community
Regular meetings aren’t always enough to build bonds. Try getting your team together for activities like video conferencing happy hours, where they can leave work behind and just have casual conversations. These are opportunities to feel less isolated, build solidarity, laugh, and have fun. It’s not like going out to lunch or a bar, but it can accomplish the same goal.
Don’t forget one-on-ones
Some team members might not feel comfortable in group settings, even over video. But you can keep them engaged by encouraging leaders to have consistent one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. Not only does this give employees a chance to bring up topics they might not want to discuss in front of others—like personal issues or conflicts with teammates—it also helps them feel a sense of connection with their team and company.
We know that running and leading remote teams comes with unique challenges. Managing their technology shouldn’t be one of them.