For those working from home for the first time, it’s definitely an adjustment compared to the office culture you’ve come to know. Thanks to COVID-19, Zoom calls have replaced in-person meetings and it’s no longer possible to grab a quick bite to eat with co-workers. However, just because you can’t see your team face-to-face doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected.
Instead of letting feelings of social isolation creep up on you, follow our tips to promote an engaging workplace culture and support the social needs of your colleagues, even as you work from home.
1. Host Virtual Happy Hours
With the use of video communication tools like Google Hangouts and Zoom, after-work socialization doesn’t have to end. Post in your company’s communication forum such as Slack or Google Chat that you would like to meet up with people after work to have a virtual happy hour and “share” a drink. With virtual happy hours, you and your colleagues can unwind together and have a chance to connect outside of the work that’s happening.
2. Set Themes for Team Meetings
When working remotely, team meetings and check-ins are crucial to staying on the same page. It’s easy to feel isolated when working from home, so use this time to get a sense of how your colleagues are doing.
Pick a simple theme that everyone can partake in to add an element of fun to your team meetings. You could ask everyone to wear their favorite t-shirt or hat or share their favorite Spotify playlist to listen to while working. When people can participate in an easy theme for the team meeting, it will help them feel connected even from a distance.
3. Share More With Your Colleagues
Although remote work is more prevalent than ever, in 2019 54% of remote workers reported feeling disconnected. An easy way to avoid this is to encourage others to share more with the team about their personal life, with what they’re comfortable with of course. Having a separate Slack channel or communication forum where people can share more about their lives is a good way to keep it separate from work chats. People can share highlights from their lives such as photos of family and pets, weekend plans, or even what’s on the menu for dinner.
Management can provide prompts such as, “Share a photo of your home office setup!” or it can remain more organic by allowing employees to share when and what they want. Providing more insight into life outside of work is a good way to maintain the personal touch that’s all too often lost with remote work.
4. Have a Game Night
Just because you can’t attend weekly trivia nights in person doesn’t mean that the game nights have to stop! There are plenty of options for having fun from a distance thanks to the use of video chat and online games. Jackbox Games, online puzzles, charades, and trivia are all easy ways to have fun with your co-workers. There is an endless number of video chat games you can play remotely, you’re only limited by your creativity.
5. Schedule Virtual Coffee Hangouts or Lunch Breaks
If you miss your standing lunch dates or morning coffee breaks, set up a time with your co-workers to “step away” from work to share a meal. Consider actually moving away from your desk for your virtual lunch. Studies have shown that leaving your desk for lunch boosts productivity and reduces stress levels. Having a midday break with your team members can help build morale and provide an opportunity to connect with your co-workers beyond just talking work.
6. Stay Connected Through Shared Experiences (from afar)
Even while maintaining a safe social distance, you can continue to foster a sense of unity through shared experiences. Send out an interesting article and ask everyone to read it and share their thoughts on it in your social Slack channel. You can also ask everyone to read the same book, watch a Netflix show (Tiger King, anyone?), or listen to a podcast. This way, everyone can choose whether or not they want to participate and do so at their own pace. It’s also a nice icebreaker for co-workers who don’t know each other very well.
Social distancing and remote work don’t have to equate to feeling disconnected. Although it’s difficult to replace the face-to-face communications that we’ve grown accustomed to, you can still promote a healthy workplace culture by following the above tips.
We would love to hear what you and your team are doing to stay engaged and connected through this difficult time. Drop a comment below with your best tips to maintain positive work relationships!