How to Foster Connections with Remote Workers
You remember 2020 as the year that changed everything. You remember how quickly your life spun out of control, how confusing and isolating that year was. While everyone else was making sourdough bread from scratch and seeming to thrive off their new work-from-home schedules, you felt like you were drowning. You lived alone in an apartment, in a new job where you hadn’t quite established relationships with your coworkers, in a new city away from friends, family, and recognizable streets. You hit the ground running, immersing yourself in your work—what else was there to do? You spent your free time fighting loneliness, searching for a sense of belonging. It wasn’t until you opened up to your manager during a quarterly one-on-one meeting that you realized you weren’t alone. Others on your team were struggling with their remote work environment, desperate for connection. They were missing conference room meetings that could have been an email, and supermarket birthday cake celebrations in the break room just like you. That year gave you a new appreciation for workplace relationships, connection, and collaboration with colleagues. Now that the office is back open and we’re several years removed from the abruptness of the pandemic, you see evidence of it all around you. Many of your coworkers still work remotely full-time. Others have created a hybrid schedule and only come in for meetings once or twice a week. You’ve been promoted to manager, and you’re determined to ensure everyone on your team feels connected, informed, and valued daily.
For the leader who wants to protect his team from feeling isolated, uninformed, and discouraged, put the following steps into action and watch your team thrive no matter where they choose to office.
1. Host Video Conferences
Over the years, you’ve left countless meetings and muttered, “That could have been an email.” But today, make it a point to host a meeting that could easily be an email. Remote workers will feel included, see that their voice matters, and have a sense of belonging that comes when you meet with them face-to-face. If your remote workers only receive communication through text via email or message board, they will feel isolated and undervalued. Regularly schedule one-on-one meetings through video conferencing to take the temperature of your team. Use this time to answer questions, hear their concerns, and see how they function while working from home.
2. Make Midweek Connections Fun
Create opportunities for lighthearted conversation and relaxed time with your coworkers just as you would have water cooler chats, donuts in the break room, or small talk before and after meetings. Several online platforms allow your employees to engage with one another in fun ways that encourage non-work-related conversations and connections. Establish a message channel that helps coworkers get to know one another by sharing silly childhood photos, favorite ice cream flavors, first concert, or best movie quotes. When you make weekly check-in fun, employees can get to know one another, which increases job satisfaction, collaboration, and performance.
3. Trust Your Team
Resist the urge to micromanage remote workers and constantly check in with the progress of their work. Trust that if you have communicated project details and timelines effectively, they will accomplish their work—even if their schedule is not traditional. Remote workers often thrive on flexibility. They opt for a remote or hybrid work situation in order to take their children to school, attend an afternoon practice, or make a parent’s doctor appointment. They may not always work the same hours as the men and women in the office, but when you show that you trust them to do their job well and meet required deadlines, they will rise up to meet your expectations.
4. Celebrate the Wins
Publicly and specifically praise your employees for a job well done. If they met a tough deadline, impressed a client, modeled one of the company’s core values, or crushed a key assignment, recognize them at your next team meeting. Discover what your employee finds meaningful and find a personal way to show your appreciation. This keeps every team member motivated and reminds your remote workers that their efforts are seen and valued.
5. Ask for Feedback
Regularly ask for feedback and implement reasonable suggestions when possible. Find out what is and isn’t working for your employees. Send out an anonymous survey and give remote workers a chance to let their voices be heard. Ask questions like: Are you feeling connected to your team? Do you feel like your leadership trusts you? Do you trust your manager? Your coworkers? Can you offer suggestions to help foster a deeper connection with your colleagues?
Allowing remote workers to speak about their unique work situation and then watching as you implement some of their ideas strengthens their trust in management and the company. Trust is the foundation of company loyalty, increased job performance, and reduced conflict.
To learn more strategies to foster connection between your coworkers, contact Trinity Training & Development today.