As it turns out, a work-from-home arrangement is more popular in the UK than other European countries. While the UK lags in some other areas relating to COVID-era precautions, a report by iNews shows that a higher percentage of people in the UK are avoiding working away from home.
Without a doubt, there are benefits to working remotely, however, moving into a virtual workplace, you may be feeling the lack of camaraderie and general socialisation that comes with the office environment.
The small nuances of social interaction –– a friendly face here, a little wave there –– are missing from the virtual workspace. (And no, emojis don’t count!) But you can still build social connections with your team. Below, we’ll give you a few tips on how to do so in an online workspace.
Go overboard with onboarding
Onboarding is an important part of integrating your new teammates into the business and into the company culture. First impressions are everything, and your onboarding process can become a great way to build connections.
Alongside your standard training plan, you can include icebreaker activities and get-togethers via Zoom to help everyone get to know each other. Ditch the old, overused icebreaker questions and instead go for deeper questions, such as “What’s your favorite way to get in some exercise?” or “Are you a morning person or a night person?” –– or, a personal favourite, “How often do you work in pyjamas now that you’re working from home?” (As a fun fact, Businesswire claims that 30% of workers have worn pyjamas for virtual work meetings in the past 12 months!)
Create mentor-mentee relationship
Consider assigning a mentor for any new starters or more junior members of the team, who may be feeling overwhelmed with the prospect of working remotely. This is a person who the mentee can approach with any questions, no matter how big or small, and receive guidance that makes them feel supported.
According to Forbes, employees in a healthy mentoring relationship have a safe space to ask their mentor questions they may not feel comfortable asking their manager. And from a company standpoint it’s been proven over and over again that such relationships foster growth in a profound manner as well.
As the book “Trillion Dollar Coach” famously conveys, strong mentoring relationships have taught business leaders how to create stronger and more productive cultures even at the pinnacle of Silicon Valley. Thus, establishing trust between mentors and mentees will not only build team bonds and networks of support that benefit employees, but also boost performance and company culture.
Have a tea break
It may be a virtual meet up, but a tea break should be a time during the workday, maybe once or twice a week, when people can get together and share whatever comes to mind.
Smaller breakout groups of about 5-to-10 people are the ideal size for some relaxed networking. It’s a great way for managers to get to know their teams better, and for everyone to relax and get to know their colleagues on a more personal level.
Host a Virtual Team-Building Activity
In recent years, “Talking With Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell has been heralded as a leading exploration of team-building principles. While the book delves into a number of serious societal issues well beyond workplaces, one of its fundamental arguments is that we default to assumptions and frequently miscommunicate when dealing with people we don’t know.
As a business leader looking to avoid these very problems, the logical solution is to make sure team members do know each other. And a great way to do that while working remotely is to get everyone together for some virtual team building activities.
There are a whole host of exciting activities to choose from, from “Virtual Murder Mystery” events to online ghost hunts! These events are perfect for building stronger connections whilst also helping to reduce stress levels.
From trying to keep positive to making sure communication remains strong and misunderstandings are avoided, virtual team building events have become a key way to engage remote employees.
Set up group lessons
Another fun idea is to set aside some time each day or week (about 15-20 minutes) for one team member to teach everyone else a new skill. It can be either work-related or personal, but the idea is to have fun and learn something at the same time, and it gives your team members the chance, one-by-one, to share things that they’re passionate about or skilled at. It may be slightly unorthodox, but it’s an excellent way for people to get to know one another a little more closely.
If you’re looking for ways to build connections in virtual space, the ideas above will take you a long way. With workspaces across the world developing into a more hybrid model, ways to build connections will grow and develop along with it.
To find out more about how we can help bring your remote workers together, either in person or online, check out our full range of exciting team building activities or give us a call on 01827 215 200 and speak to a member of our team.
Penned by Jam Brustle for eventurous.co.uk