Maintain Bonds with Coworkers Even While Remote
The need to bond with coworkers, even while working remotely, is natural and necessary for a productive and cohesive team. But how in the world are you expected to do that while working from home—by yourself? Read on for some ideas to create relationships with those you work with—even if you’re all miles apart.
Keep it in real time
The biggest obstacle in bonding with your coworkers while working remotely is the lack of real time, spontaneous conversation that can occur in small spurts throughout the day: walking through the hallway, during lunch, or yes, even at the watercooler.
Make up for this impossibility by making sure you and your team are connected on some sort of instant messaging service. Whether it’s Slack, Zapier, Hubstaff, Yammer, or some other channel (seriously, there are a ton out there), these services make it easy to randomly shoot off a quick message that your coworkers will get instantaneously. And while these services are extremely handy for work-related issues, make sure you have a channel set up just for fun—whether it’s a place where you all send funny GIFs, random thoughts throughout the day, or funny (work appropriate) jokes you heard, having a dedicated “casual chit chat” channel can help you all feel a little bit closer.
Perform a daily check in
At the beginning of each work day, Forbes recommends you host a “fifteen to twenty minute virtual meeting discussing topics not related to ongoing projects.” The only rules? Keep the meetings positive, lighthearted, and non-work related. This can be the time to discuss your weekend plans or have a quick on-camera “hello!” from your kids (or pets!) or reminisce about your favorite vacation—anything that helps everyone express their real sense of selves away from the office.
If you’re not in a position to personally host such a meeting, contact your boss or supervisor with the idea and see if she’s up for it. That “human connection” this type of activity provides is truly invaluable, especially during this time when so many people feel isolated from one another.
Set up social time
To replace all those after work happy hours that everyone is missing, try a Zoom cocktail session after the workday is done. Or if you’re looking for something a bit more competitive, consider replacing in-person office bowling nights with online game sessions using a PlayStation, Wii, or Xbox.
If socializing after work seems like, well, more work, carve out a bit of time during the day to have a Zoom coffee break or lunch break with a coworker. That way, you’re not spending too much extra time online, yet you still get a chance to socialize in a situation that’s feels a bit more “normal.” Even that little bit of downtime can strengthen team bonds and provide a much-needed mental rest from the issues of work.
Widen your net
If there’s anything positive that comes from suddenly working from home (besides being able to work in your pajamas), let it be this: You can now widen your network at work beyond your normal in-person office configuration. Fast Company suggests that “if you’ve always wanted to build a relationship with someone in another department, take advantage of the fact that everyone is working remotely to reach out and suggest a call or video meeting.” For those who find it intimidating to just walk up to someone and strike up a face-to-face chat, this can be a more doable option.
The challenges that arise from working remotely are many, but bonding with coworkers doesn’t have to be one of them. Get creative, and you’ll be able to keep up those relationships you had in the office—or even make brand new ones.