For the past few months, companies have had to get creative and find new ways to work from home. While many of these adjustments have been successful, one of the biggest challenges has been staying connected and maintaining the social well-being of employees. A 2020 study found loneliness to be one of the greatest struggles facing remote workers, many of which report feeling socially cut off from much-needed interactions with their colleagues.
With COVID-19 restrictions still underway, many workplaces expect to continue operating remotely for at least the next few months. Over time, though, this isolated work style can make employees feel increasingly alone, unmotivated, and disconnected from their teams.
To combat these effects and promote your team’s social well-being, here are some ways to keep your remote teams socially connected:
Set New Communication Expectations
With this new work arrangement comes new expectations. Gone are the days when you can walk down the hall to ask your coworker a quick question or gather your team for a meeting. When working remotely, clarifying communication expectations and your preferred communication mediums is important.
Establishing rules like “no emails after work hours” or “no meetings on Wednesdays” lay out communication standards that also help prevent burnout. Sharing your schedule with your team and encouraging your team to send questions, feedback, concerns, or successes can go a long way in setting the tone for a more communicative remote workplace.
Help Your Employees Build A Functional Workplace
Now that employees have moved the office to their homes, many are facing a variety of new challenges – more distractions, lack of quiet spaces, and slow internet speeds, among other issues. These conflicts can increase workplace stress and create barriers to communication. This is why it’s urgent for managers to address ways they can help their team build functional workspaces as soon as possible.
Equipping workers with the right tech such as a company computer, webcam, and high-speed internet along with flexible work hours are great ways to help your employees have a foundation for success and to have the latest technology to stay connected. Home circumstances are not all the same, so managers should prepare to support each employee differently.
Regular Check-Ins and Team Meetings
Working remotely doesn’t have to mean working alone. However, staying connected sometimes requires some planning ahead. Scheduling regular one-on-one check-ins and team meetings can ensure that you and your employees will stay in the loop and have some time to get together and interact. Leadership can also schedule standing hours for employees who want to dial in and discuss any topics that are on their mind. Finally, hosting virtual lunch and coffee breaks are great alternatives to meals and hall run-ins with colleagues.
Embrace Every Medium For Digital Communication
In our era of social media, it feels like there’s an app for everything. When working from home, having more channels than ever for staying connected can be an advantage to us. Video call and messaging applications are great tools for hosting meetings, chatting, and asking questions throughout the day.
For leadership, project management software can help you and your team set expectations, stay productive, and keep everyone informed on your team’s progress. Much of these tools work for fun activities as well, like virtual game night, fitness classes, or trivia competitions.
Show Employee Appreciation
For employees, working remotely can sometimes make it harder to feel appreciated. Adjusting to new circumstances and working away from the rest of the team can be lonely and removes opportunities for congratulation that can come with working in-person.
A great way to recognize your employee’s hard work is to send your team affirming emails where you recognize their resiliency and diligence. Take time during your virtual meetings to celebrate the success of your team and highlight key employees. During virtual meetings, remember to be conscious of our new reality. Be empathetic as employees find a work rhythm that works for them and celebrate successes when you can.