While some want to get back their team into an office, remote work has a number of benefits that are really hard to beat. From saving time on commute to greater productivity and flexibility, the advantages have been obvious.
Unfortunately, many of the remote workers felt isolated and ended up working in silos. Lack of physical space has been a disadvantage when it comes to connecting with peers.
When speaking with our users, some of them said - I'm not at work to make friends, I'm here to get stuff done.
While this is certainly a valid argument, building relationships with colleagues can have an effect on the work output itself as well as have long lasting positive effects on one's career.
A strong support system from colleagues can strengthen both individuals and the entire team, improve productivity and help when times get hard. It's also easier to collaborate and provide feedback when you know someone a little bit better on a personal level.
A research conducted by Gallup has found that having good friends at work can result in higher engagement and quality of work.
Our research revealed that just 30% of employees have a best friend at work. Those who do are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher quality work, have higher well-being, and are less likely to get injured on the job. In sharp contrast, those without a best friend in the workplace have just a 1 in 12 chance of being engaged."
Your Friends and Your Social Well-Being - Gallup.com
Lack Of Spontaneous Interactions. In a remote-only setting, everything requires setting up beforehand which leads to a formal atmosphere and a calendar-guided interaction. Spontaneous moments are harder to come by and casual small talk is not exactly what the productivity tools we use while working were designed for.
Team Bonding & Community. Tools that we use to work remotely are designed for productivity, not for developing long lasting connections between peers. Meetings are scheduled and have an agenda. Yet another pub quiz might not be the most energising way to engage your employees.
Informal conversations. Some examples of that might be lunch breaks, small-talk before a large meeting and simply gathering around a watercooler.
Mixing between different teams and departments. Meeting other employees who work on different teams within your company is hard when working remotely. Most often, teams end up siloying and most of their interaction will happen only between people who work with each other directly. A study, run on more than more than 61,000 Microsoft employees during the Covid-19 pandemic, found a significant decrease in collaboration between teams, causing employee networks to become more siloed.
Our results show that firm-wide remote work caused the collaboration network of workers to become more static and siloed, with fewer bridges between disparate parts. Furthermore, there was a decrease in synchronous communication and an increase in asynchronous communication. Together, these effects may make it harder for employees to acquire and share new information across the network.
The effects of remote work on collaboration among information workers - Nature.com
Have a company retreat. Company or team retreats are a great way to boost morale and meet face to face. Even though your company might be working 100% remotely, it doesn't mean that people who work with you will never see each other in person.
Organizing a get together can be an exciting team building activity - from start to the actual event.
Resources & Ideas
A guide to organising a company retreat by 10Adventures
Take a personality test. Not the "what kind of bread are you?" type of a test. Personality tests, while not 100% accurate, can reveal a lot of points about a person and are a great ice-breaking starting point for a conversation.
Resources & Ideas
Keep a dedicated virtual space for informal conversation. - it's hard to find serendipitous moments of connection when your calendar is filled up with serious ZOOM meetings. Creating a playful virtual office and using it as a dedicated digital space to hang out can be a great solution to spark the watercooler moments.
Hey, we can help you with this one! We build flat.social - a new online meeting platform that puts joy and playfulness over productivity. It's designed for building connections remotely in an environment where everyone can move and talk with others around. It's to ZOOM what a cocktail party is to a business presentation.
Establish recurrent social events. Sometimes social events needs a little bit of a kick to get going. Organising weekly or daily social catch-ups which are unstructured can help out with that.
Guess what, we can help you with this one again! You can connectflat.social with a Slack team or your calendar and put your social events on autopilot with recurring reminders. Time for fiesta!
Create a how to work with me profile for each team member. Working remotely might mean that we miss some of the social cues that we would normally get when sitting together in a physical office. Each person has their own preferences, working rhythm and motivations.
Asking each of the team members to create a how to work with me profile for themselves might be a great starting point to get to know each other. It can act as a cheat sheet for other remote colleagues. Some of the subjects that creator of such profile might touch on are:
- What motivates me?
- What annoys me the most?
- What's the perfect working schedule for me?
- What method of contact would I prefer the most?
- What are my hobbies & interests?
Resources & Ideas
How to work with me manual by remotecompany.com
Celebrate! What might be a reason to celebrate? There is plenty!
- Team member's birthday: Making each team member feel appreciated and remembered can really make them feel like a part of a team.
- New team member joined: Throw a welcome party.
- Project completed? Time for a virtual celebration where team members can connect and reflect on what they have completed together.