Your team may be dealing with working completely remotely, navigating coming back into the office, or managing a mix of the two. Whatever the nuance, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the way that teams experience teamwork while working remotely. From worrying about physically distancing in the office to losing the usual workplace interaction, it can be challenging to keep the team feeling the love.
But, as we all know, teamwork is crucial to keeping work going and keeping staff feeling as supported, valued, and healthy as possible. No matter your situation, as a team leader, you can find a way to encourage engagement and connection. Here are a few of our tips so that you can adjust to this new normal and keep strong teamwork while working remotely.
Communicate and Check-In
The first step in navigating your team through a crisis is to find out how they are doing. This is especially important if you are working remotely. Unless you make the effort to reach out, it is far less likely to happen organically. Make sure that you are checking in with your team regularly.
There will be weeks and days that are harder than others. Those are times you need to focus on offering support and encouragement. Members of your team may not have ever wanted to work remotely, let alone switch to remote work in the middle of a stressful period.
When employees communicate that they are having a hard time or identify specific problems, it is your job as a team leader to troubleshoot. Those thriving with remote work may be able to help colleagues get comfortable. This also promotes teamwork while working remotely.
Outside of those crucial check-ins with the team, maintain and encourage regular communication. Especially when people are working from home, it is better to over-communicate than leave people wondering what is going on. Try using messaging or chat apps, including video conversations. And build in time to talk regularly and consistently.
Use Tech to Help
In an office environment where everyone is free to collaborate and connect, things like project management are a part of the usual way of doing things. But when people are scattered around, with no real way to collaborate easily, technology can help bring teamwork back into focus. In our project management example, a platform that every member of the team can access and update from wherever they are keeps progress moving with real-time visibility.
This also helps everyone work together when there is a split between remote workers and those in the office. Often, those who are spread out further feel like they may be left out of decisions because they cannot see it happening in real-time. By tracking information and decisions with tech, there is transparency, which improves teamwork while working remotely.
Create Social Opportunities
The break room is often the lifeblood of an office if it is comfortable and inviting. When you have people spread out and/or working remotely thanks to the pandemic, all of that office camaraderie disappears, along with the break room. Now is the time to set up virtual social opportunities, outside of the regular work chat and connection to foster teamwork while working remotely.
Celebrate birthdays and significant work wins online. Open up a chat channel to talk about non-work things like weekend plans. And allow for extra time during conferences and video calls to let people connect and make small talk. Some offices are scheduling virtual morning coffee breaks, setting up trivia games, hosting virtual happy hours, or creating exercise and fitness programs. The opportunities are endless. To be clear, these should be opt-in activities so that nobody feels pressured into showing up.
As for the physical break room, if your staff is coming back to work, think about how you can modify your break room to be accessible but safe post-pandemic. Extra sanitation, single-serving snacks, spreading out furniture, or creating a second break room can maintain social opportunities while minimizing risk.
We are experts in break room design and working with your space to make it more inviting and teamwork-oriented. We are happy to discuss options with you to get your team feeling great again! And we are looking forward to talking with you to learn more about how we can keep your team feeling like a team. Get in touch with us via our contact form or give us a call at 973-402-1088 today.