Being digitally connected doesn’t necessarily mean that a team working remotely feels connected. Discover five simple strategies to bridge the gap and create a sense of community.
There’s certainly no denying that working remotely has a host of perks. Commuting costs are cut down, there’s more opportunity to be hands on at home, and there’s simply more flexibility when life’s unexpected surprises rear their heads. But while the list of pros is long, working remotely also has many surprising disadvantages. Chief among these is the disconnect it often causes in team dynamics, from company culture and employee well-being to communication and motivation.
But when the perks (and necessity) of working remotely are clear and indisputable, how do we ensure team members remain connected, aligned, and motivated?
Encourage Human Interaction
Working remotely on online platforms is not only convenient but also quick and can significantly simplify collaborative work. Most often, however, these platforms are solely task-driven. This means employee interactions are quickly reduced to simply communicating about the work at hand and don’t create the space or opportunity for genuine conversations or, indeed, the ability to build meaningful relationships. So, while these platforms get the job done, it’s important to also encourage human interaction—that is, conversations that are focused on people, not solely on business. Starting a catch-up or status meeting with small talk or a simple “how are you doing?” or “what did you get up to this weekend?” goes a long way in doing just that and won’t take up too much time.
Create a Space for Authenticity
At the end of the day, we’re all human, and it’s our diversity and individuality that make for a dynamic and interesting team. Creating opportunities to recognize individuality helps solidify team culture. Social community platforms, for instance, are the perfect tools for this, allowing remote workers to personalize their profiles in a truly human and authentic way. This gives their coworkers an opportunity to get to know the individuals behind the job titles.
Build a Culture of Communication
Whether it’s checking in once a day to ask how things are going or perhaps what the experience with a particular project has been like, building a culture of open communication promotes a feeling of community, as well as transparency. These quick messages might not always relate to work, but it can genuinely impact the feeling of well-being and inclusivity in a team that works remotely.
Schedule Time for Culture
No matter what line of work it is, there should always be time for culture, and working remotely has made this exceptionally easy. A quick video call on the last Friday of the month with icebreakers, games, or just casual conversation allows for a much-needed human element in order to build team culture, which, in turn, boosts morale and productivity.
Give Recognition When It’s Due
Employee recognition is a powerful tool to promote wellness and motivation. Whether it’s an e-mail or a brief announcement during a video call, giving recognition to deserving people not only validates the work they’re doing but also inspires a sense of belonging. Now more than ever, as so many people grapple with the effects of the pandemic, it’s important to acknowledge how they’re contributing to success stories.
Working remotely opens up a world of opportunities, but it should never come at the cost of company culture or a sense of community and belonging within a team—all of which are essential for happy, fulfilled, and productive employees. By incorporating these strategies within a business, you’re creating the best of both worlds and, in turn, taking the necessary steps for your business to reach its full potential.
Edwain Steenkamp, a writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa, is the Content Strategist at Panion, a community-building platform that helps organizations create a deeper sense of connection and belonging among distributed teams.