When the coronavirus forced millions of people to suddenly work from home, many managers and employees alike struggled with the new reality. This makes sense when you consider that less than 30 percent of Americans are set up to work efficiently from their home office. Managers and team leaders have especially struggled with keeping their teams cohesive and connected during these unprecedented times. While this is a legitimate concern, the good news is that all team members can take proactive steps to ensure that they continue to work well together despite working remotely at separate locations.
Redefine the Water Cooler Chat
Everyone needs a break from their work duties and the stress they feel from events happening in the world today. Unfortunately, working from home doesn’t provide the opportunity to socialize for a few minutes by the water cooler or in the break room. It might surprise some workers to hear that this can still happen, albeit in a virtual environment.
Managers who feel concerned about their teams losing unity could schedule one hour a week for people to meet online to talk on a personal level about issues not related to work. The virtual water cooler chat also gives employees the opportunity to feel heard and blow off steam before their frustrations affect their work.
Go Old School by Setting Up an Exchange by Mail
With most information delivered electronically these days, it can be a real treat for people to receive something in the mail just for them. A monthly cookie exchange or a handwritten note of encouragement are just two ideas that can help to build morale among team members working from home. While no one should feel pressured to participate, a mail exchange is a simple way to connect with others on a human level.
Plan a Status Update Each Morning
It can be challenging for people working remotely to stay abreast of what’s happening with a project or know the duties assigned to other team members. A brief recap every weekday morning via Zoom or another online meeting platform puts everyone on the same page. Not only does this help to keep co-workers connected, it also provides the opportunity to learn what worked and what didn’t work the previous day and get up to speed with any proposed changes.
Participate in Some Traditional Office Contests
Activities such as ugly sweater contests or best Halloween costume contests help to bring levity to the workday and give co-workers a chance to bond. These things don’t have to stop just because team members now work from home. They just need to look a little different.
A manager or team leader can announce the contest, give people a few days to decide if they want to participate, and then announce a date for judging. Each participant should receive the same amount of time on a meeting platform to show off their contribution to the contest. Having each team member vote for the winner and then offering a small prize makes these virtual contests even more enjoyable.
Respect Each Team Member’s Personal Schedule
No manager should expect employees to be available at all hours just because they work from home. Respecting each person’s typical schedule is essential to build respect and unity among the entire team. Although some situations are unavoidable and will require people to stay logged on past their usual quitting time, this should happen rarely and hourly employees must receive additional compensation for it.
Need Additional Help Navigating the New Work Environment?
At Juvo Business Group, we understand that no one could have predicted or adequately prepared for the country’s response to the coronavirus. If you find yourself struggling to manage virtual teams effectively or would just like additional tips, please schedule a consultation with us today.