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How to keep remote teams socially connected?

ADVICES AND PRACTICAL IDEAS TO STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN EMPLOYEES AND MAINTAIN TEAM SPIRIT REMOTELY.

The year 2020 has allowed many companies to experiment with telecommuting. Temporarily implemented nationally in the context of the pandemic, 75% of employees who have tested teleworking would like to continue. Indeed, habits have been taken on the employees’ side, while companies got equipped and implemented organizational solutions, making it possible to deploy telecommuting under good conditions. Many employees see it as an opportunity to better balance their professional and personal life, or as the ability to choose housing further away from their workplace, while many companies see it as an opportunity to give up all or part of their offices, and it now seems obvious that this way of working will become anchored in the organization of companies.

For a few years now, many companies already had teams scattered across different cities, even different countries, and therefore already had to manage employees remotely. These organizational methods bring new issues:

  • How to strengthen relationships between teams while they are dispersed?
  • How to avoid the sense of isolation and the loss of social connection associated with teleworking?
  • How to maintain the level of employee engagement remotely?
  • How to encourage teamwork?
  • How to properly inform employees?

In this context, it is above all essential to ensure that the necessary collaborative tools are implemented so that employees have everything they need at their disposal. Managerial practices must also be adapted to maintain employee productivity and engagement. Communication and its channels should also be taken care of to ensure the proper flow of information.

Regarding the issue of keeping a remote team socially connected, many techniques can be implemented, for which we will give you some ideas.

Maintain interactions within a remote team

From a distance, the nature of social interactions is likely to change and it is crucial to nurture the interactions to strengthen the bonds.

To maintain interactions between employees, the first thing is to ensure that they all have access to the collaborative tools necessary to exchange in good conditions. This includes the use of instant messaging for real-time discussions and the use of video conferencing to maintain a close relationship.

It is then necessary to implement good practices to maintain interactions, such as favoring one-to-one calls, organizing more regular but shorter meetings, organizing a weekly team meeting to create a team dynamic and keep a rhythm, activating the video as much as possible to keep the physical link…

Encourage informal discussions to strengthen relationship between employees

From a distance, discussions between colleagues are often reduced to purely professional subjects. As the opportunities for small talk at the coffee machine, on arrival in the morning or around lunch no longer exist, the collective dynamic is weakening. To cultivate conviviality, we must therefore revive these habits.

For starters, it is important to leave room for informal discussions on instant messaging platforms or during video calls. It is indeed necessary to open the conversation on more informal subjects, by simply checking on people. Seeing each other and chatting in front of the camera is not as nice as a live chat, but it is still a great way to keep in touch with colleagues.

Another possibility is to maintain daily rituals such as greeting colleagues in the morning and in the evening, both maintaining relationships and providing an opportunity to engage in conversation.

There are many ways to set up opportunities for informal discussions, such as online conversations around common interests by sharing recommendations for movies, TV shows, books, recipes, photos, tips…

We can also imagine the creation of a virtual break room, or even plan for everyone to have a virtual coffee break once a week with a colleague randomly selected, to disconnect from work and maintain the ritual of the break, all while ensuring that all employees get to know each other.

Organize collective moments remotely to maintain team spirit

Reducing trips to the office leads to less relaxing and chatting moments around breakfasts, snacks, coffee breaks, afterworks… It does not, however, mean the end of informal time with colleagues. All it takes is organization and creativity to keep these collective moments remotely.

We can imagine simple collective moments, such as a video coffee break each morning, a late afternoon snack each week… We can also continue in virtual format the celebration of arrivals, departures, birthdays and special occasions.

We can make these collective moments festive with afternoon snacks where everyone prepares a cake, or even virtual happy hour at the end of the day where everyone prepares a cocktail, allowing to maintain conviviality. To share these collective moments in a fun way, we can also imagine online games such as Rummy, Scrabble, Pictionary… It is also possible to have the necessary equipment delivered to do these group activities: a shaker to create your own cocktails and enjoy it together, a notebook and a pen in your company’s colors for a game of Pictionary… This little attention will create a “physical” connection between your employees.

To include employees in this process, each team member could be asked to organize a virtual activity once a month, allowing the team to gather around a unifying moment while involving team members in the organization.

To go further, we can organize activities that unite and forge a sense of belonging with virtual team-building activities such as an escape game, a murder party, a creative challenge, a musical blind test, a happy hour with tasting, a cooking class…

The opportunities to create collective moments are limitless, it just requires imagination.

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