Using technology to create a sense of connection in remote teams
Following the sudden switch to remote work caused by the pandemic, this new way of working has become commonplace, with huge demand among employees for it to stay.
While remote working does provide numerous benefits, namely flexibility and convenience, it can also create a sense of disconnection among team members. The lack of face-to-face interaction can be isolating for some, with 81% of young remote workers expressing concerns about loneliness.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Modern technology can bridge the gap between employees and help to build connections if used correctly. Here are some ways you can take full advantage of technology to help encourage positive interactions in remote teams.
Opting for video calls or conferences allows team members to see and hear each other in real time, emulating the personal aspect of a face-to-face office environment. This can help to reduce feelings of isolation in the workplace, ensuring that teams stay connected and collaborate effectively.
Some great video conferencing tools to use are Zoom, Google Meet and Skype, making it easy to connect with others regardless of their location. These tools also provide collaboration features, such as screen sharing and recording for any members that miss out on the call.
Online text communication platforms
Similarly, it’s important to have a text communication platform that allows team members to communicate with each other quickly and easily. Whether it's to organise video calls or sort out a small issue, it can be much faster to send an instant message rather than to start an email chain.
Tools such as Workplace and Slack also have a status feature, making it easy for employees to let others know when they’ll be away from their desks. They usually also come with a ‘do not disturb’ option, which can be used to disable notifications during certain times, helping to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Virtual team building activities
Online activities such as virtual games, quizzes and competitions can help to build a sense of connection between colleagues. These activities provide a fun and interactive way for team members to connect outside of the typical work environment, providing opportunities to learn more about each other and build relationships.
You can organise your own activities or opt for an online tool, such as Kahoot, which provides an interactive experience.
Encourage virtual coffee breaks
To prompt team members to have the casual conversations they may usually have at a water cooler, consider setting up regular meeting slots for coffee breaks. These informal sessions can encourage employees to chat with others during their breaks, catch up and share any personal updates.
It can sometimes feel forced to call someone just to chat, and some may even feel that it’s a waste of time, so having these designated slots can really help. It also provides an opportunity for people to speak to those that they may not usually interact with, such as members of different teams.
For many, remote working is a welcome change, with an incredible 92% of workers wanting their work to be at least partly remote in the future. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential for employees to feel disconnected and isolated without the face-to-face interaction that an office environment provides. Thankfully, as we’ve discussed, technology can be used to bridge that gap, helping to foster personal and professional connections alike. Even if you think your teams are doing just fine, try implementing one or two of our suggestions and see the results for yourself.