Six Ways to Maintain a Connection in the New Virtual Workplace
Because of COVID, many companies are implementing a virtual workplace, and thankfully, working from home has many benefits. For example, more time with family and friends, avoiding long commutes, increased flexibility, and higher productivity.
But for all its perks, it also has some disadvantages—for instance, communication challenges, employee disengagement, and loneliness.
Studies show that isolation is one of the most common complaints about remote work, with many employees missing that informal social interaction that offices can offer. Because virtual employees don’t necessarily interact with their co-workers every day, they can often struggle to establish and maintain those essential friendships. Over time, this feeling of loneliness can cause workers to feel as if they no longer belong to the team, resulting in increased turnover.
What can a concerned employer do to support their team members and keep the human touch alive with remote team members? Here are six ideas that your team can use.
Ensure employees have a defined workspace.
Employees should be encouraged to find the right conditions and create boundaries to keep them productive and efficient.
Inspire them to create a defined “office space” away from pets, television, or other distractions, which may pull them away from the team environment. As an employer, direct them with any advice or resources.
Encourage employees to balance life.
When working from home, if you’re not used to the routine yet, it can be easy to fall into the trap of being on-call at all times. But your co-workers aren’t the only ones who need that human connection.
The reality is, a remote work environment can often creep into staff personal life. Employees need to set boundaries to maintain those vital relationships with their family members as well as with their co-workers. Have meetings to discuss some ideas for keeping that balance. Some ideas include:
- Keep regular hours.
- Get dressed for the day.
- Take consistent breaks and lunches.
- When you’re done for the day, stay done. Turn off all work devices.
Motivate your team by creating consistency and implementing easy-to-use virtual communication tools. Many companies are using messaging programs like Google Hangouts and Slack or video services like Skype or Zoom.
There are so many choices to help employees stay connected. Whether it’s an account executive recapping a new client or a team member posting what they have planned for the day, this keeps people engaged and informed of what’s going on throughout the organization.
Start establishing a weekly 15-minute call to ‘catch up.’ Use this time to have fun and assess team progress. Adjust the frequency and length of the meetings according to your employees’ needs and as everyone gets more comfortable with their new remote workplace.
Implement virtual team building events.
Virtual team building is the constant process of bringing remote teams together. It can help your staff achieve powerful bonds by creating a collaborative environment with an in-office vibe.
Virtual team-building efforts consist of strategies, games, and activities meant to bring more human interaction to virtual work. It will help your team connect while making them feel like they’re part of a community. Some ideas include:
- Virtual team lunches
- Virtual coffee
- Team challenges
- Virtual game day
- Icebreaker quizzes and trivia
Continue to share.
Continuing the standard of in-office sharing will help maintain a much-needed human connection. So, urge staff to share photos and videos of pets, kids, home improvement projects, or even funny memes.
Pushing staff to share small parts if their lives is an excellent way to recreate the personal touch lost through working from home.