If your business is now managing a full-time remote workforce for the first time, you are not alone. (Well, technically you are, but you don't have to feel that way!) Thanks to modern technology and a little out-of-the-box thinking, it is possible to feel as connected and productive as you would be in the office.
Here are 6 ways to help your virtual team stay connected:
1. Utilize Chat or Messaging Apps
The key to creating a virtual workplace experience is expanding the conversation beyond day-to-day tasks and initiating conversations that co-workers may miss out on due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. Many cloud-based collaboration services, such as Slack and Skype, provide chatrooms that help everyone become more connected.
At Phenom, for example, we utilize various Slack channels to stimulate conversation and keep employee engagement high. Here are a few that you can implement at your organization:
#questionoftheday: Everyone at the company posts random questions to evoke answers around anything and everything. (Examples: “What would be your superhero name?” and “What are you grateful for today?”)
#book-club: Fellow bookworms share both fiction and non-fiction books they find interesting.
#online-resources-for-kids: For young parents working at home while school is closed, this is a great way to share creative ideas to entertain kids, from podcast recommendations to Pinterest-worthy crafts.
2. Celebrate Themed Days
Most companies celebrate days during the year that showcase their culture. For example, in the US, many employees come to the office dressed in costumes on Halloween. In the new virtual world, we can also celebrate particular days to bring out employee individuality and creativity.
In our office, we designate Fridays as the day we celebrate our employees with new theme every week. Some highlights in recent days include Phenom Phriday—a day when employees wore their Phenom swag—and Phunky Phriday, when employees shared lip-syncing videos in our slack channel.
3. Embrace Video Conferencing
Make it a point to see your co-workers each day.
Non-verbal communication helps improve communication and build relationships. Implementing a daily check-in each day will ensure you are staying connected to your teams. Larger teams can even host twice-a-day check-ins: one in the morning for updates on daily tasks, and then one at the end of the day for summaries on the team’s progress.
4. Host Virtual Fitness & Mindfulness Classes
Experts agree that exercise and mindfulness can help people cope and manage stress, such as taking an online aerobic class, breathing classes, yoga, and meditation. A group class may be a way to bring your team together and provide a stress release during troubling times.
At Phenom, we start each day with virtual meditation sessions in each country. Additionally, Phenom has a bi-weekly yoga class led by two employees who are certified yogis. Poll your employees and identify if anyone in your organization is willing to lead a class with others!
5. Start Daily Office Hours Online
Your workforce may have questions while working from home. In their new virtual world, they may not know who to turn to in order to get the answers they need. One simple idea is to create daily online Office Hours with the HR team.
The purpose of the office hours is to connect employees on important matters that are affecting each and every one of us. Additionally, this open forum is a “connector” to management and getting difficult questions answered. Employees will not only feel that their voices are being heard, but also that they are all in this together!
6. Encourage (and Host) Virtual Happy Hours
The fun does not have to stop when the clock strikes five. Gather together all teams for a virtual happy hour or social hour. This is also a great chance to celebrate milestones such as birthdays and work anniversaries. Virtual karaoke party anyone?
Whether it’s a Skype birthday party, a Zoom meeting, online happy hour, or virtual fitness class, there are many ways for us to “be alone together!”
Stay well, stay safe, and stay connected. We got this!
Check out our COVID-19 resources hub.