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How to Stay Connected with Your Remote Team: Tips for Building a Virtual Bond

Junun Saleh

Who would have thought 20 years ago that we would lead teams through a screen? Yes, the pandemic has forced us to change the way we interact with people. Leadership has evolved, and nowadays, the way we work and interact has drastically changed!

As we know how tough it can be to stay connected with your remote team and to maintain a good working relationship with your remote employees, we have compiled the best tips for building a virtual bond with your remote team!

Stay tuned.

There is nothing we can do; remote work is here to stay! Therefore, we must adapt and create new ways of interacting with our colleagues. Yet, the incoming way of remote work as the new norm has its issues. According to Buffer, the three biggest challenges associated with remote work are unplugging after work (22%), loneliness (19%), and communication (17%).

Loneliness is a big issue when it comes to working remotely, as you are not interacting with people face-to-face on a day-to-day basis. You are not bumping into people in the kitchen or having a small talk by the coffee machine. You are not sharing lunches or taking a walk together to get some air. You are interacting with people virtually, which can be quite tiring and sometimes even frustrating.

Moreover, communication is another big issue when working remotely. According to the Harvard Business Review, “People who work remotely feel left out of office politics and are more likely to be passed over for promotions.” 

More often than not, when you are not physically present in the office, it is harder to build relationships with your colleagues and be noticed by your boss. As the boss or the manager, are you unconsciously ignoring your remote team? Be careful! Feeling left out by our superiors can be very detrimental to work productivity.

Feeling Lonely and Its Repercussion at Work

Saying “I’m feeling lonely” is not easy for employees as it might feel like we are admitting defeat or that we are not coping well with working remotely. It can be hard to reach out and communicate feelings to colleagues or the boss, but it is essential to do so in order to maintain a good working relationship!

Loneliness does not only have an impact on our mental health, but it also affects our work performance. In fact, according to the National Institute on Aging “loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”

Loneliness can lead to higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. As a result, employees who are feeling lonely are less engaged, less productive, and more likely to leave the company

But, fear not! There are a few things that you, as an employer or a manager, can do in order to help your employees feel less lonely while working remotely. Keep on reading!

Tips for Building a Virtual Bond with Your Remote Team

If you manage a remote team or if you are thinking about transitioning to working remotely, these tips will help you build a virtual bond with your colleagues and maintain a good working relationship!

Adapt your Leadership Style

First and most important you need to adapt your leadership style when managing a remote team. The way you interact with your colleagues when you are in the office is not the same as when interacting with them online. 

Remember that you are interacting with them through a screen, which can be quite impersonal. As a result, it is important to adapt your leadership style and to find new ways of interacting virtually with your colleagues. 

If we zoom into the leadership styles, a situational leader is one of the best approaches for a remote environment. Why? Situational leaders adapt their leadership style according to the situation and to the person they are interacting with. 

This is important when working remotely as you need to be able to adjust your leadership style when interacting with different colleagues, who might have different personalities, working styles, and needs. 

Schedule Regular Check-Ins

After you have settled your leadership style, it’s time for some talk! 

We know this one seems like the “omnipresent” technique, but after all, how can you make it work if you don’t talk with your team? Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and bestselling author Adam Grant says that “the most important thing you can do for remote employees is over-communicate”.

As a manager, it is your responsibility to ensure that your team feels connected and supported. Checking in regularly is a great way to show your employees that you care about their well-being and their work. 

Encourage informal conversations by creating a dedicated channel on your company’s messaging platform (e.g. Slack, Microsoft Teams) where employees can ask questions, share ideas, or just chat!

Whether it is through video conferencing, phone calls, or even emails, make sure to keep in touch with your team on a regular basis. These check-ins will help you stay updated on projects, offer support when needed, and build trust. Set up weekly one-on-one meetings with each member of your team.

Make an Effort to Get to Know Your Team Members

This is not about getting too personal or intrusive, but rather about knowing your employees are not robots! One of the best ways to build a virtual bond with your team is to get to know them on a personal level. When you know more about their interests, hobbies, and family, it becomes easier to connect with them. 

Make an effort to learn about their lives outside of work by asking questions and listening carefully to their answers. Try with:

  • What are your favorite hobbies?
  • What is your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
  • Tell me about your family.
  • What are your favorite TV shows, books, or movies?

In addition to getting to know them better, you can also use this information to plan fun virtual team building activities!

Plan Virtual Team Building

Team building activities are a great way to promote bonding and team morale, even when working remotely. There are many different types of virtual team-building activities that you can do, depending on the size of your team and the type of relationships that you want to foster. 

Some popular ideas include virtual happy hours, coffee breaks, cooking or baking classes, trivia nights, and online scavenger hunts. You can also get creative and come up with your own unique activity that is tailored to your team! The important thing is to have fun and encourage your employees to interact with each other. You can check our recommendations for virtual team-building activities here.

Use The Right Tools

Ensuring that your team has the right tools is essential for maintaining a good working relationship, especially when working remotely. The right tools will help you stay organized, communicate effectively, and collaborate on projects. 

Some of the most popular tools for remote teams include project management software (e.g. Asana, Trello), messaging platforms (e.g. Slack, Microsoft Teams), video conferencing software (e.g. Zoom, Skype), and file sharing services (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox).

By using the right tools, you can make sure that everyone is on the same page and that tasks are being completed in a timely manner. In addition, these tools can help to create a sense of community among your virtual team.

Encourage Recognition

A great way to build a virtual bond with your team is to encourage recognition. Whether it’s through a dedicated recognition program or simply saying “thank you” for a job well done, employees appreciate feeling appreciated.

Mondelēz International, the US-based, global food, beverages, and confectionery (Cadbury, Dairy Milk, Oreo, Ritz) manufacturer has a great employee recognition program! They implemented an employee wellness program called BOOST for encouraging employee healthy living efforts. Do you have an employee recognition program in place? 

Recognition is a great way to show your employees that you value their hard work and dedication, even when they are working remotely

Remember that receiving regular recognition not only makes employees feel good, but also motivates them to continue doing great work. When you take the time to recognize your team members, you are showing them that you value their contributions and that you are grateful for their hard work.

Connect Team Members that Usually Don’t Work Together

So far, we have talked about how to build a virtual bond with your entire team, but what about the individual members that make up your team? 

One of the challenges of working remotely is that employees can start to feel isolated from their colleagues 

A great way to combat this feeling of isolation is to connect team members that usually don’t work together. This can be done by creating cross-functional teams for specific projects or tasks. By working with someone outside of their usual team, employees will have an opportunity to get to know new people and build relationships with them. 

In addition, you can also encourage networking by hosting virtual events such as lunch-and-learns or happy hours. These events provide a great opportunity to stay connected with the team and ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

Rent a Co-Working Space for Those Working in the Same City

By renting a co-working space, you can provide your employees with a place to work that is close to others in the company. This can be especially beneficial for those working in the same city but in different parts of town. 

Not only will this allow them to get out of the house and avoid feeling isolated, but it will also give them the opportunity to interact with their colleagues on a more regular basis.

If you have the budget, you can also rent a co-working space for your entire team! This can be a great way to promote team bonding and allow employees to get to know each other better. 

Trust Your Team to Do their Work

Have faith in your team! We know this can be a challenge for some managers, but it’s important to remember that your employees are adults and they should be treated as such. 

If you micromanage your team or constantly check in on them, they will start to feel like you don’t trust them to do their job. This can lead to feelings of frustration and resentment. Instead, try to focus on the results that you want your team to achieve. 

Follow the below tips for building trust within your workforce by Upwork!

By setting clear expectations and goals, you can give your team the freedom to work how they want while still ensuring that the work is getting done. 

Be Flexible and Understanding

We know that life doesn’t always go according to plan. There will be times when things come up and your team won’t be able to work as scheduled. It’s important to be understanding and flexible in these situations.

Allow for some flexibility in the way your team works and think about what you can do to make working from home easier for them. For example, you could offer more flexible hours or allow them to take a break during the day to take care of personal errands. 

By being understanding and flexible, you can show your team that you value their work/life balance. This can lead to increased productivity in the long run as employees will feel like they are able to manage their time and commitments more effectively. 

Bond with Your Remote Team: The Takeaway

Working remotely doesn’t have to mean that you’re disconnected from your team. There are plenty of ways to stay connected with your remote team and build a virtual bond. 

By using the right tools, encouraging recognition, connecting team members that usually don’t work together, and renting a co-working space, you can make sure that your team feels connected, even when they’re working from home. 

Do you have any other tips for building a virtual bond with your remote team? Don’t forget to check out our other blog posts!

Happy bonding! 

-The Monitask Team

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