During this COVID-19 crisis, we have seen so many people going to work virtually for the first time. It has been the topic of numerous articles, webinars, and panel discussions.
What is often missing from the discussion is how to maintain and foster your team connection while working virtually. We, at Zephyr Connects LLC, have been virtual for years, so we are old hats at this, and we want to share some of our favorite ways to foster connection while being virtual.
Communicate often. It is easy to take for granted all the ways, big and small, that we communicate with each other while working together in an office. The small ways, especially, get overlooked. When you go virtual, it takes a more conscious effort to keep those small ways alive and well. At Zephyr, we use Slack as a general communication tool. If you take a look on any given day, you will see that we share random thoughts, jokes, photos, ideas, and simple hellos.
Increase the number of meetings you have but make them short and productive. Instead of having one longer meeting per week with your team, break them up into two meetings, or simply add in some touch points throughout the week.
My husband’s company does a quick 10 minute, daily Stand Up meeting, as an example. At Zephyr, we have a longer All Hands team meeting, and then shorter meetings with specific teams – like the sales and marketing team; the recruiting team; the operations team. We also have short one-to-ones between supervisors and their team members. It sounds like a lot, but we are efficient and keep them short. These allow for more opportunities for the team to see each other and connect about business as things evolve during the week.
Continue to find ways to do social things together. We have the occasional meal together over Zoom. Other ideas are a movie or book, club; lunch and learns; or use donut, an app designed for Slack that randomly selects team members to have “coffee”, it sends a fun conversation prompt and the rule is no talk about work. I just read about a fun cooking challenge that Trello does with their team. They pick one ingredient, and everyone uses that in a dish they make, and then shares photos and the recipes with the team, inevitably, conversations ensue about the recipes and cooking. What fun ways can you find to engage your team?
As a side note, we have been asked about paying for these types of things and we feel that depends on what works best for you and your company right now. At Zephyr, due to the way we work and pay, this is voluntary, but our whole team is showing up because they want to stay connected. For your team, it might just be something you do during regular work hours. Only you can decide what is best for your organization.
Have senior management engage one-on-one with the team members. I, as the CEO of Zephyr, have regular Zoom calls with each of my team members. I want to check in personally and offer a space for them to talk freely about how they are coping with the quarantine and work. This is fostering our connection in a deeper way and I know it is helping us both manage better.
The most important thing, no matter what you do, is that you do it. Be intentional, stop for a moment and think about your team, what would they enjoy, ask for their ideas, then write them down and plan for them. Make space and time for socialization and connection. It will go a long way in keeping your team engaged and connected!!