The remote work model comes with a full bag of flexibility, autonomy, and better work-life balance.
However, you might feel like something’s missing: that camaraderie between employees that happens when people share a space for 40 hours a week. Easy conversations in the breakroom kitchen or by the water cooler, inside jokes, and birthday parties.
Sure, your employees can do their jobs without any of that. But a remote job without meaningful connections between coworkers can feel isolating.
Furthermore, it’s easy for someone to misread tones in messages or feel singled out and stressed without verbal and body language cues to pick up on.
A team of employees that feel comfortable with each other can do miracles for work productivity, even when everyone’s not in the same physical space.
Here are a few tips on how to stay connected with your team when working remotely:
During a stressful project or if there’s tension between employees, online meetings can work wonders for defusing negative emotions.
While there are a plethora of video call solutions designed to help people to collaborate remotely, some of them stand out with exclusive features like Full HD video, meeting recording, and no restrictions on meeting length.
It’s so easy to misunderstand someone when you’re just reading words on a screen. Seeing someone face-to-face and hearing their side of the story can make a massive difference and is a surefire way to emotionally connect with them.
Face-to-face meetings are a great way to beat that feeling of isolation in any online workspace.
Regular video calls are opportunities for everyone on the team to catch up, ask for help or offer help as they might be encountering bottlenecks in their work.
You’ve probably experienced this since you were in middle school: whoever’s in charge has everyone go around the room and name a “fun fact” about themselves.
For introverts and those with social anxiety, these icebreaker exercises are a nightmare.
You spend so much time thinking of what to say that you don’t listen to what anybody else says, and you leave the meeting feeling tense and isolated rather than connected.
As a remote team manager, you need to figure out a no-pressure icebreaker that doesn’t put anybody on the spot.
Here’s a simple yet clever idea to stay connected with your team when working remotely – try to make a collaborative playlist.
Have everyone on the team contribute a song or two, explaining their choices if they want to.
This will help everyone learn a little bit about one another, and possibly even spark some great conversations between people who love each other’s chosen songs.
Slack is one of the most popular remote work collaboration software out there.
While Slack channels are great for communications related to work, you can create a #watercooler channel for your remote teammates, too. A place for everyone to share little things about their day, the weather in their location, a great TV show, or whatever they’d like to discuss.
People can participate if they’d like, or not, without pressure. Even these little interactions will help to build a relationship between coworkers.
You can even make custom channels for different topics.
If the collaborative playlist mentioned above wouldn’t work for everyone, you can create a channel for sharing music or one for people to discuss what they’re having for lunch, or what their pets are doing – whatever they have to say.
You will be surprised how well people respond!
Another way to stay connected when working remotely is to host regular team meetings.
However, it’s easy for remote workers to get frustrated with frequent meetings – just Google “meeting that should have been an email” to see lots of memes and funny merchandise bemoaning meetings that aren’t necessary.
But if you organize meetings carefully, people will respond positively.
We have a whole guide on how to run an effective virtual meeting for you to check and steal ideas to better collaborate with your remote team.
If there’s one thing to remember – keep meetings brief and positive.
Make sure to connect with your remote team members and compliment things they’ve done well, and encourage them to shout each other out as well.
Making people feel appreciated, respected, and supported is a key component to building reliable connections in your remote team.
Being a remote team manager, one of your main goals should be to keep your teammates as connected to the company culture as possible
Regular checkups work great – video meetings, phone calls, or just an email.
Let them know exactly what they’re doing right, and ask questions about anything they might be having trouble with.
Try to listen without judgment and work together to solve problems.
Employees like the idea that they are not considered machines by their employers. If treated like individuals, they will be more productive and stick around longer.
One of the best things about remote work is that there’s really no need for everyone to arrive and leave at exactly the same time.
A “time clock” app can probably help you keep track of when your team members are working.
However, it’s been proven that people respond better to having a set of tasks to complete rather than having to sit in the same spot from 9 to 5. They’ll be more productive, too.
Plus, if everyone’s on their own schedule, they’re more likely to be in a positive mood – fostering good connections between everyone and improving the quality of work.
Have employees come up with a few short paragraphs about how they work best with others.
This can be an incredibly simple way to come up with solutions that work for everyone without ruffling feathers.
For instance, one employee might write “I really need communication – I don’t mind if you’re a little behind, but please just tell me about it so I know the status of our project.”
Another might say “I work best at night, so I’m most likely to get my tasks completed then. But I check my email all day. If you need something done ASAP, just let me know! I’ll make it happen.”
You can also have them write their pet peeves about intra-office communication. Some people might prefer to communicate via phone call, some might absolutely hate video chats and avoid them whenever possible.
Though these things might seem simple, referring to them can make a big difference in attitude and respectful communication.
Having everyone working from home often means that they have to rely on the equipment they already have. Not everyone has the means to purchase a state-of-the-art computer and high-speed internet service.
Make it a priority to be sure that everyone has what they need to do their jobs.
You’re saving money on overhead when everyone’s working at home. Invest some of that money to make sure everyone’s able to work as efficiently as possible.
Trust us – an employee who has to deal with a lagging computer and a slow internet connection will secretly build up resentment.
Do everything in your power to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Though working remotely might be a big shift from the company culture you’re used to, it gives virtual teams so much more freedom and flexibility. Ultimately, it’s better for quality of work and employee satisfaction.
Ensuring a positive work environment, even remotely, doesn’t require too much extra effort on your part, and it can make a big difference. Good luck!