While the long-term impacts of the pandemic on the workplace remain to be seen, one thing is clear: working from home is here to stay. Many employees have embraced the flexibility of working remotely, just as many employers have appreciated the impact on the company’s bottom line. One casualty of employees working remotely can be workplace communication and camaraderie. We have three tips to foster authentic connections in disconnected office environments.
1. Make yourself available. Clearly communicate when and how it’s best to reach you. Helping your team understand the different avenues they have to reach you—and the strength of each—allows you to interact more seamlessly. For example, “I always reply to emails within 24 hours, am available by phone most afternoons, and keep my status updated on Slack.”
2. Create spaces for connection. Make sure your team has a full range of options for interaction. Email is vital for substantive communication. Phone is helpful for problem-solving and collaborating. Workplace collaboration tools like Slack can fill in spaces for casual conversations that might not happen otherwise in a remote environment. Just as an in-person office has scheduled meetings, desk visits, and hallway conversations, a remote work environment should have a variety of tools.
3. Recognize that having fun is productive. Workplace interactions can become all business in remote contexts. Having warm, trusting workplace connections is vital for a successful team. Host a Zoom lunch once a month where you order delivery for the team and enjoy it together. Consider a monthly coffee club or happy hour where employees can catch up on life outside of projects. Your team will be stronger, which will be reflected in your outcomes.
These principles are also applicable in remote learning environments as educators think creatively about ways to foster classroom engagement. How have you connected with colleagues in a working from home era? Share your thoughts on social media.