Despite the benefits that come with working remotely, it’s not faultless—it can be difficult for colleagues to make meaningful and collaborative connections when a screen is always separating them.
With the shift to remote and hybrid working environments over the past several years, businesses of all sizes are wondering how to build and maintain strong team connections remotely. Keep reading for a brief overview of why building connections at work is so important and how to make sure you and your team members can do so even when you can’t be face-to-face.
The Importance of Team Connections
Humans are social creatures, and without interaction, we get lonely. In fact, according to a 2018 report, loneliness was one of the biggest drawbacks of working remotely. In addition to loneliness, other issues with remote work revolve around communicating and collaborating effectively.
Building connections with work colleagues is good for mental health and makes logging on to work more enjoyable. Additionally, one study found that employees that could casually socialize with their co-workers for 15 minutes had a 20% increase in overall performance.
The bottom line is that having healthy connections at work with managers and peers not only makes for a happier work team but also contributes to the success of the business. Connections build trust, and trust is essential for productive collaboration between team members.
Best Practices for Building Connections Remotely
There are many things you can do to encourage team-building and connection-forming remotely. Here are three strategies you can use to get your team talking, socializing, and collaborating during conference calls and on other online platforms.
Never Skip Icebreakers
Take a few minutes to add an icebreaker or conversation-starter slide at the beginning of your presentations. You can pose the question to the team and then break out into smaller groups to make the conversations more personal. Try using unique icebreakers that really bring out people’s personalities as opposed to the traditional “tell us about your weekend” prompt.
You can also post icebreakers in your online workspaces like Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc., on a regular basis to get people interacting.
Set an Example From the Top
A company or team’s culture is greatly affected by the actions and values of the people at the top—whether that’s a CEO, a group of board members, or a team leader.
If you’re in a leadership position, show how much you value building connections by reaching out to colleagues to check-in, having scheduled video chats with employees, participating in casual conversations at the beginning of conference calls, and making your presence known in online workspaces.
Make Space for Non-Work Related Chats
Making a place for fun conversations that have nothing to do with work can give people a much-needed reprieve from their normal routine. You can set this up on either a text- or video-based platform—for example, a special Slack channel or a scheduled “water-cooler hour” every other week.
It requires a little more planning than usual, but it is possible to build strong connections while working remotely. You will soon see that making time for socializing benefits both the members of the team and the business as a whole.