As the novelty of full-time remote work begins to wear off, especially as certain “shelter in place” orders get extended, many of us may start to feel more and more isolated. It doesn’t matter if you live alone or have families, roommates and pets in the home, the feeling of being distanced from your team, work, and society in general, can take its toll.
Since the global pandemic has put us in uncharted waters, not all managers are experts in navigating emotional support, direction and productivity with your teams. Still, no matter the industry, boosting morale with employees at a distance and during such a time of uncertainty is challenging.
Businesses have increased work from home options in recent years as company culture and flexible work environments become more important to the workforce. It’s definitely possible to sustain—we are all seeing that. But adding in the stress of the recent pandemic changes some of the course of action.
So, how can you as a manager do your best to lead and make your employees remain a close-knit team when they are far apart?
I checked to see what my own managers were doing with their teams and came up with some Brilliant ideas to share. See my 4 Ways to Help Your Team Feel Less Isolated below.
- Virtual coffee breaks
While most businesses are still holding meetings with your teams, albeit virtually, you might ask your team members to hold a cup of coffee while they’re at it. The small gesture of making a meeting a coffee “break” while you discuss business, helps it go a long way. For larger teams, you can even pair up individuals so they can chat about specific topics that may be affecting them. Coffee is something everyone can relate to no matter their role or level. It can help bring your team together. And if you’re doing a video call, you can joke about people’s coffee mug designs, as well!
- Show and Tell
Why not take the children’s game and make it into some good ol’ grown-up fun? While on a video conference, ask your team members to show off something or someone in their home. Whether it’s a child on their lap, their new puppy or an expensive piece of art, having each of your team members express themselves in a way that doesn’t have to do with work will likely make them feel good. Most people want to show off some aspect of their home life. Take this opportunity to do something fun that they wouldn’t necessarily get to display if everyone was in the office. This will likely lead to more productivity, too. When people smile and are happy, they’re more likely to want to accomplish tasks.
- Rose and Thorn
If you hold meetings at the end of the day, ask your team members to discuss one positive thing and one negative thing that happened to them. This type of confessional can help out emotionally by letting your employees get their thoughts off their chest. It will also force them to find good in their day. As the pandemic continues, people may only see the bad in what’s happening. Coming up with something positive can empower your team members and push them to reach their goals, on both a personal and professional level.
- Pulses & Polls
It’s important to keep a pulse on your team. Sending out a survey or poll and asking them various questions regarding their time working from home can give you a good indication on what’s working, what’s not working or what resources they may need. Be sure to keep the survey anonymous so that your team members will be more inclined to give their most honest responses. It’s important to follow up after analyzing the results with any actions you intend to take based on the information they provided. Depending on how long the remote environment will last, you may want to survey your team every few weeks.
What are some other ideas you are doing with your teams to keep them engaged and feel less isolated? Share your thoughts in the comments below!