Many companies had existing remote workforces, comprised of employees who were always telecommuting. However, COVID-19 made working from home the norm for many professionals who would usually come to the office, creating a unique paradigm.
While remote work makes sense when physical distance can help keep people safe, it isn’t always conducive to team bonding. Without opportunities for socialization, forging connections and cultivating strong working relationships is challenging.
Luckily, there are ways to encourage your remote employees to socialize. Here’s how to get started.
Capture Every Opportunity
Socialization in the workplace usually happens naturally. For example, colleagues may chat while they pour a cup of coffee in the breakroom or pass each other in the hall. Those opportunities simply happen, and most people engage one another without much thought.
When working remotely, you don’t have these chance encounters. Instead, communication tends to be highly intentional, with a person only reaching out when they require information, support, or guidance.
In the end, you have to find ways to introduce the spontaneity you experience at work into the world of telecommuting. An easy way to begin is to spend the first few minutes of any virtual meeting chatting. Having a weekly catchup phone call – and encouraging team members to check-in with each other that way – can also invite more casual conversation.
Make Technology Work for You
Communication and collaboration technology can be leveraged for socialization. First, it’s crucial to make sure that it operates efficiently. All team members should test their software, microphones, cameras, and headsets regularly, ensuring everyone can be seen and heard clearly.
Once that is handled, hosting a virtual team-building event can be a smart move. There are many potential options available, especially if your collaboration has screen sharing and other robust capabilities.
For example, you can tackle a drawing challenge. Start by finding a simple yet colorful line drawing. Next, one person grabs a few markers, a piece of paper, and a blindfold. Once their eyes are covered, someone else views the selected drawing and tries to tell the blindfolded employee how to draw it, essentially acting as their eyes.
When they complete the drawing, they hold it up to the camera for everyone to see. It’s an intriguing way to practice communication skills, that’s also a lot of fun.
Don’t Be Afraid to Share (A Bit)
Being vulnerable and authentic can work in your favor. When colleagues get a chance to get to know the real you, it can strengthen relationships. If an opportunity arises, consider sharing a personal detail or two, as it can make bonding easier.
However, it’s also important to be smart. Many current event topics today are highly sensitive and may not be the best points of discussion. Similarly, specific details are uncomfortably personal, and it’s best to avoid crossing a line, even if it’s by mistake.
Ultimately, by using the tips above, it is possible to encourage more socialization. If you’d like to find out more about how colleagues can remain connected while working remotely, the staff at The Squires Group can help. Contact us today.