Teams are no longer working together in the same office, they’re now working together remotely. How can you replicate the in-person team experience virtually?
Use video rather than the phone.
When people can see each other, they’ll be more connected, engaged, and productive. Being able to see each other face to face brings back some sense of community and togetherness that can’t be replicated by messaging on Slack or calling someone on the phone. It also helps to mitigate some miscommunication, as you’ll still be able to see visual cues and not rely simply on deciphering someone’s tone by email. When working by video conference, make video usage mandatory to ensure that everyone is participating and not off multi-tasking somewhere.
Use a group messenger rather than email.
Using a messenger like Slack or Microsoft Teams helps to improve team communication. It promotes transparency and accountability and allows for better tracking of project status and updates. It’s much easier for a group to share information directly to message threads than trying to keep track of lengthy email chains. There’s also no worry of someone not getting copied in an important email or being purposely left out.
Set up a separate channel for casual chats.
One of the biggest things missing for teams working remotely is the ability to have a quick informal chat with a coworker in the break room. Set up a separate room for chats and encourage employees to pop in throughout the day and talk to each other around the proverbial water cooler. This should be a non-work space open to random discussions.
Host virtual happy hours.
Replace the after work gathering with a virtual one. Invite everyone to hop onto a video chat to socialize and wind down after work. Encourage each team member to have snacks and a beverage, just as they would at a normal happy hour. The idea is to replicate the real thing as closely as possible so that it’s as effective for connection as it would be in person.
Eat lunch together.
Schedule a virtual team lunch once or twice per month. Sharing a meal is a natural way for people to connect. While nothing will replace sharing a meal actually sitting at the same table, virtual lunches can be a great way to beat loneliness and bring people together.
While not everything can be replicated virtually, with a bit of creativity, many things can be. With a bit of effort, you’ll be able to create an environment where your teams are still connected even though they’re physically apart.