Working remotely for the first time due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?
Chances are, at some point during the experience you’ve felt a bit out of touch with your team. It’s understandable – the drive-by chats, weekly meetings, and team lunches that fueled connection and collaboration vanished quickly and without much warning.
There are already a number of challenges to remote working, and they can be magnified when an entire business makes the switch. Add the uncertainty of these times to the mix, and there’s bound to be obstacles. Some people are juggling childcare and work; others have less-than-ideal office spaces. It’s easy to understand that working from home can be an adjustment.
Interested in learning how to stay productive while working from home?
Read our article on the topic here. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________
With all that said, there are still plenty of ways to stay in touch with your coworkers while you’re all working remotely. In this article, we’re going to share 5 tips on how to stay connected with your team until you can all clink mugs in the office once again.
Set up time to check in regularly
Our first tip may seem like common sense, but it’s a necessary first step: to foster that sense of connection, meet with your team regularly! If you don’t already have daily or weekly meetings scheduled with your team, now is the time to do it.
Your check-ins don’t have to be long or have a detailed agenda – they could simply be a 15-minute block of time you and the team spend chatting about how your days are going.
Keep the meetings light but engaging – the intention should be to recapture some of the spontaneous conversations that happen in the office.
To keep our daily kickoff meetings engaging, every day a new team member poses a fun question to the larger group. So far, we’ve covered questions like, “what was the first thing you bought with your own money?”, “what’s a secret skill you have?”, and “what was your first car?”
We all get a chance to share some personal stories, have a few laughs, and catch each other up on our days ahead. Any time of day will do for your check-ins, but in our experience, there’s no better way to start the morning than with the smiling faces of your coworkers over a video call.
Leverage communication tools (and not just for work-related matters)
If anything has made our switch to a remote work lifestyle easier, it’s the number of communication tools we have access to today. With email, video chat technology, and instant messaging platforms at your disposal, you can contact anyone at any time.
While the daily/weekly check-in meetings are essential, maybe you’ve found that you’d like more social interaction with your team. Don’t worry – there are a number of other opportunities for you to connect throughout the day.
Here are a few ideas:
- Schedule a virtual lunch date with coworkers
- Start an open video chat anyone can join to get some human interaction
- Join and participate in company-wide instant messaging channels
- Need some inspiration? Here are two of our new favorites:
A Tip from Our Team:
“Our eggsercise channel is a great way for all of us to connect and continue to embrace personal health in lieu of social distancing. Living a healthy lifestyle has become more difficult while in quarantine, but the burden lightens when we are in this together.” – Dave G.
Something to consider
If you typically attend many meetings, particularly video calls, you may already see your coworkers frequently throughout the day.
A recommendation: when you start a meeting, take the time to ask how everyone involved is doing – how are their days going? It’s important to make time to talk about non-work-related matters, even if it’s only for a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting.
Talking about what our lives are like outside of work builds rapport, helps us feel understood and bolsters that sense of connection we’ve been looking for.
A Tip from our Team:
“To stay connected with my team, I like to randomly send a positive message to coworkers via slack, text, or email. For example, ‘Good morning, hope you have a great day!’, or, ‘You did a great job on that project and I appreciate you!’ It truly makes a remarkable difference.” – Kamala S.
Clarify your priorities and collaborate when possible
Think of your team as rowers on a ship, with the ship representing the larger business. In a perfect world, everyone is rowing in the same direction – towards your business’s overarching goals.
Our abrupt departure from typical work-life has made perfect alignment difficult, to say the least. Many teams have had to quickly shift their priorities to adapt to the evolving situation, only adding to the challenge.
To clarify your priorities, start by scheduling some one-on-one time with your manager to discuss what you should be working on. You’ll feel much more connected with your team once you’re certain that the work you’re doing is meaningful and impactful.
A Tip from our Team:
“When we all went to WFH it became more difficult to stay perfectly aligned, then we had the added difficulty of shifting many of our priorities. Having dedicated meetings around prioritization and more efficient tools to report out has been key. Utilizing our project management tool has proven to be vital.” – Dave M. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________
In addition, your daily/weekly team meetings provide another occasion for you to align with your team. If a team member is discussing a project you feel you could add value to, reach out and offer your assistance!
Thanks in large part to modern technology, effective collaboration is possible, even when we’re working miles apart. If an opportunity to collaborate with a team member arises, take advantage of it. There’s no better way to regain that sense of connection than tackling projects together.
Get involved with your company culture
If your employer places emphasis on culture, there should be a handful of opportunities for you to stay connected through companywide activities and efforts. Up next, we’re going to highlight a few creative ways you can inspire connection by getting involved with your company’s culture.
If you decide to try out one of our suggestions, share your results with us on Twitter!
Donation efforts: Rallying behind a common cause is a powerful experience that shows us that we can achieve more when working together. Consider finding a local food bank or charity in need and ask your coworkers to join the effort. You’ll be making a remarkable difference in your community, and you can all share in that positive feeling together.
A Tip from our Team:
“It’s been an incredible experience interacting with the numerous families that have been touched by the kindness of Best Egg. In challenging times like these, it’s clear that our impact is much greater when we work together.” – Lauren T. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________
There’s one surefire way to ensure that fundraising is a good experience for all involved – make it fun!
Just a few weeks ago, we raised money for a local charity by hosting our very own “Marlette Madness”, a company-wide virtual rock, paper, scissors competition. Up next on the docket, we have our first-ever virtual weight-loss challenge, which will be a great way to inspire some healthy competition, lose some quarantine lbs., and raise money for those who need it most.
Marlette Madness Competition
A Tip from our Team:
“Giving back to our community and having fun while we work are both big components of our culture. Since we’re all working remotely during this pandemic, organizing events like this gives colleagues the chance to share some laughs via video conference while creating a unique way to raise funds for a great cause.” – Rich S.
Book clubs: Book clubs are a great way to prompt thought-provoking discussion with your coworkers and remain connected while remote. No book club in your company? Get one started!
Simply contact everyone who’s interested, have them vote on a handful of books, and select the winner of the bunch. Schedule a video chat a few weeks down the line to discuss what you all learned, your thoughts on the text, and how you plan to apply the lessons found within.
For the best results, the books should revolve around personal, professional, and business development. This way, you can use your findings to improve yourself as an employee and strengthen your team during the process.
Need a few recommendations on some options to start with? We’ve got you covered with our article “Best Egg’s Must-Reads for Personal and Professional Development”. If you select any of the titles we recommend, be sure to let us know what you think!
A Tip from our Team:
“I’ve found our book club to bring even more value now that we are all working remotely. When we meet to review a book, we not only talk about how it pertains to work, but also how it impacted us personally. It gives me a chance to interact with folks I don’t typically get a chance to and see how they are doing.” – Mike M. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________
Lunch & Learns: Virtual lunch & learns are a perfect opportunity for team-building and social interaction. Your team is likely composed of people who are subject-matter experts in different areas – why not give them a chance to shine and share their knowledge with everyone?
You could also have your team propose a podcast or TedTalk to listen to and discuss your thoughts over lunch. (We’ve got some great podcast suggestions for you as well.)
Ask your team to suggest some light topics to cover, identify a few learning objectives for each one, and schedule the session! These sessions are particularly effective at promoting conversation and encouraging collaboration between teams, and that’s what we need now more than ever.
Be patient and adjust your expectations of coworkers
We don’t need to tell you that these are challenging and frustrating times for many people. To stay connected with your team, it can help to (slightly) relax your expectations of them. What do we mean by that?
As we mentioned earlier, many of our coworkers have recently taken on the roles of teachers and caretakers in addition to their full-time jobs. If you reach out to someone on your team and they don’t get back to you right away, be patient – there may be other, more pressing things going on at the moment. Your understanding of their challenges will be appreciated.
A Tip from our Team:
“Working full time at home with two young kids who don’t understand what’s going on is challenging to say the least. Every day is a stressful balance of my meetings, with my husband’s meetings, seeing who can keep an eye on the kids while multitasking on the computer. If I didn’t have the support of an understanding team and coworkers, I’d be even more stressed. A bit of patience really goes a long way.” – Andrea K.
Similarly, keep in mind that while communicating (particularly over text-based messaging) we no longer receive the nonverbal cues we used to while in the office.
When you don’t see the smiling face and relaxed body language, a message like, “Can we talk?” can come across differently than intended. Without nonverbal cues, messages can be easily misconstrued; if you get an email that seems a bit snappy or harsh, just remember – there are many things being lost in translation, and there’s no need to jump to conclusions.
For this reason alone, if you’re discussing complicated or confusing matters with your team, a video call is generally the right course of action. You can respond to any questions in real-time, all while seeing your coworker’s faces and hearing their voices. While it’s not nearly effective as face-to-face interaction, it’s the best we’ve got for now – so let’s make it work.
That’s all for now – we hope that you’ve found these tips valuable in your effort to remain connected with your team. These are strange and unprecedented times, but as we continue moving forward, day-by-day, we realize we are much stronger together.