Whether your teams are new to remote work or not, you may find engagement ebbs and flows. Finding ways to bring excitement to a remote workplace and build relationships among team members can be challenging. Plus, when your team is spread out across multiple time zones, it can be hard for employees to feel as connected as colleagues in an office might feel. There are also times when a feeling of connectedness is especially important: when onboarding new team members, for example, or after a workforce change.
We spoke with INTOO client Tess Langseth-DePaolis, Human Resources Manager at KBD, a brand experience agency for technology companies, about how she brings her remote team together so they can connect with each other as individuals.
4 Ways to Help Your Remote Team Feel Connected
1. Increase the frequency of all-staff meetings
Bringing everyone together on a regular basis to share business updates helps every team member to feel seen as part of the organization. Finding a time to meet with your entire workforce may be challenging, but it’s worth it to have team members from across the country, departments, and roles together on the same call. If possible, record the meeting so that anyone who is unable to attend can view it at their convenience.
Langseth-DePaolis says her company recently switched to morning meetings and scheduled them more regularly to ensure that everyone was on the same page and felt more connected.
2. Add some fun in meetings
Oftentimes, remote employees’ calendars are filled with videoconference meetings. While these meetings can be necessary for collaboration, their frequency can cause fatigue. When a social element is added, attendees are more engaged. Focus the first few minutes of each team meeting on socializing, by sharing life events, weekend plans, or watercooler chat about a current popular TV show. Doing so not only helps participants get involved, but also encourages relationship-building as team members get to know one another.
Langseth-DePaolis’s team has an activity at each morning meeting, such as trivia, “Travel Tuesday,” where they play GeoGuessr, or discuss highs and lows from the weekend. “This usually lasts 15 minutes, and then we’ll dive into our client projects. That’s been really helpful to liven up the morning and connect with one another and have some fun before starting the day.”
3. Bring back “recess”
Schedule monthly social hours that your team will look forward to. While all-staff meetings may not allow for much interaction, scheduled social activities are a great opportunity for employees to gather. These get-togethers let individuals show other sides to their personalities and let their teammates in on other parts of their lives. While some companies opt for virtual happy hours, these may not be appropriate when a team is spread over time zones, which is why KBD instituted recess. You can be creative and work-appropriate at the same time.
“It’s just an hour at the end of a Thursday once a month. We had a show-and-tell last month. It ended up being really fun. Folks were showing off their pets and bringing stuff out of their garages like a star wars collection. We also do things like virtual escape rooms, which are fun.”
4. Use your messaging app in creative ways
While using a messaging app like Slack or Teams allows employees to quickly connect and resolve work-related issues, it can also offer many opportunities to build community at work. KBD creates channels specifically for socializing to achieve this goal. These apps can also be used to share Human Resources information in a more informal format to reinforce announcements shared in other channels.
“We use it to send out healthy reminders to drink water, or take a walk,” says Langseth-DePaolis. Using messaging in this way can help team members to feel recognized more as people and less like numbers, which can be extra challenging when employees don’t share an office.
Helping Your Remote Team Feel Connected Is Easy
By using these tips, you can easily and quickly help your remote employees connect. You can also brainstorm other ways to engage your workforce that suit your team’s demographics and interests. Implementing new ways for employees to socialize will help build a more cohesive and happier organization.