As many teams continue to work from home, feelings of isolation and loneliness can build up. Furthermore, it can be difficult to develop feelings of solidarity remotely. As a consequence, productivity can drop sharply as you lose touch with your team. With some planning, however, you can create a sense of camaraderie from afar.
What does good communication look like?
One thing you can do is develop a “communications charter” that outlines exactly how, when and what forms of communication are acceptable for your team, according to “Making Virtual Teams Work: Ten Basic Principles,” in the Harvard Business Review. While this might be too formal for your team’s culture, it’s certainly not a bad idea to draft some guidelines about communication expectations and acceptable timelines in responses.
Perhaps even more important than communication guidelines for your team is creating a sense of openness and fun, said financial therapist Meghaan Lurtz, MS, Ph.D., who has worked fully remotely for the last few years. “We spend so much time on video conferencing to talk about work stuff, it can be nice to create more casual conversations,” she said.
Consider making some adjustments, added financial therapist Megan McCoy, Ph.D., LMFT. “Look at COVID as an opportunity to connect differently or to be intentional about our relationships virtually, just as we were intentional about our relationships at work in person,” McCoy said.
Lurtz recommends different tools to build community through fun. These include
- Virtual happy hours
A weekly or monthly happy hour, which could include drinking tea, can be a great way for employees to connect virtually.
- Game time
“We just kind of hop online and play Scrabble for 15 minutes,” Lurtz said. “It’s not a high-stakes pressure situation. It’s just a nice break in the day to kind of do something fun.”
- Book clubs
While there are a plethora of resources out there when deciding on a book club, MDRT features many book recommendations for sales growth and leadership. Here’s one recent article that features a strong list of books to start with.
- The daily question
This can be a fun question about what you like on your pizza or something that you’re thankful for or just what you are working on today. The daily question is a powerful tool, Lurtz said. “It’s kind of amazing how those small questions add up over time. It’s certainly not going to fix anything tomorrow. You learn, however, more about your co-workers through that process. You feel connected to them.”
By taking a few extra steps to connect with your employees and coworkers virtually, you can continue to build meaningful work relationships, foster productivity and help prevent burnout in yourself and your colleagues.
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