How to improve social connectivity when working remotely

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Social connectivity and team spirit is crucial to the success of any business – but particularly one that works remotely.

Working from home has been a new experience for many during the pandemic, but after one year of lockdown and-stay at-home orders, most of us have gotten used to it.

And now that employers have (for the most part) realized staff can work at home productively, it appears that remote working is here to stay – whether full time or as part of a hybrid ‘work from anywhere’ approach.

Now, the key for organizations is to work out how to keep remote workers socially connected for the long term.

Why social connectivity is important when working remotely

Social connectivity is important when working remotely because feeling isolated can affect morale and engagement – potentially leading to a loss of productivity and maybe even a resignation letter.

If others feel this way, it can lead to a higher turnover of staff. In the UK, Oxford Economics and Unum estimates it costs £30,000 ($41,714 US) to replace an employee earning £25,000 ($34,762 US) or more– so keeping staff socially connected, productive, and engaged is incredibly important.

Employees need to feel connected and part of a team, whether they’re in the office or working from home.

And if workers begin to feel isolated, it’s almost certain that their morale, engagement, and productivity will drop.

Fostering team spirit is one of the keys to an engaged workforce. To achieve this, employers need to make sure they  retain the feeling of connection that employees had back in the office.

What will employees miss about the office?

While many of us are happy to have “Friday traffic” in the rear view mirror, the office was a place we spent a lot of time socializing.

  • Chatting to people on your table or near by
  • Conversations at the coffee machine / water cooler
  • Pub lunches or group walks
  • Friday fun team meetings
  • Celebrating team members’ birthdays with cake and treats

We took many of these interactions for granted, but they were vital for building relationships and inspiring creativity.

So how can we recapture the team spirit of the office days when working remotely?

How to improve social connectivity during remote work

If you’re managing a remote team, here’s how you can improve social connectivity.

  • Daily morning team meetings

Start the day with a team meeting and be sure not to jump into “work talk” too early – take the time to chit chat and talk about whatever comes up. This re-establishes a connection between team members and gives you a chance to set the agenda for the day.

  • Friday afternoon meeting

Review the week, talk about the weekend ahead. Everyone feels brighter on a Friday and this may allow people to connect a little more. End the week on a high!

  • Virtual coffee breaks

Set aside 10 minutes twice a day for virtual coffee breaks, with teams encouraged to Skype/Zoom/Whatsapp each other and talk about whatever they want.

  •  Monthly Zoom quiz

Get the whole department / company together for a large Zoom call once a month. This will reinforce connections to the wider business and remind everyone that they are part of something much bigger than their own smaller remote world.

  • Celebrate special occasions

We all celebrated birthdays, marriages and baby news in the office – so try to keep this up when working remotely. Keep your team up to date with personal news and don’t be afraid to bring out the cake and the bubbly on a video call when there’s big news to be shared!

Ultimately, it all comes down to regular communication and making time to talk about things other than work.

TIP: While video calls can brighten one person’s day, they can lead to stress and anxiety for another. There really is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to remote working social connectivity – so it’s important to understand what works for each of your employees.

What products can help keep employees connected during remote work?

Here’s just a few of the products we’ve found via Google (and utilise here at Snap Surveys) that can help employees stay socially connected from home. They all focus on making it easy to communicate, such as virtual meeting rooms, instant messaging, or quick screen sharing.

  • Slack: Ideal all-round quick communication /
  • Zoom: Famous for video conferences
  • Invision: For design collaboration and digital whiteboard
  • Tandem Chat: To create a virtual office 
  • Skype: The original video call app, also includes screen share
  • WhatsApp: Text messages, audio, and video calls

Fun and games

Get creative! Don’t be afraid to look beyond regular meetings and off-topic chit chat – there’s a lot of different ways we can engage with each other when remote working.

Escape rooms

Most of us have heard of escape rooms – a group of you are locked in a room and work together to escape, aided by mysterious clues. This concept has now been moved online. It lacks the danger and claustrophobia, but it’s still fun and requires teamwork!

Donut

If you use Slack, the Donut application can pair you with a random member of your organization for a virtual coffee break. You can set the frequency to determine how often this happens. It’s a great way to speak to others.

Care packages

If your organization wants to invest in social engagement, you can send care packages to your team. If it’s done at random (i.e. through a third party company) then employees can have fun talking about what they got. There could even be a Zoom call where people open their care packages.

These gifts also tend to get shared by buoyant employees on Linkedin, meaning your employees are becoming brand ambassadors in the most professional of social networks. Not only does this drive brand recognition, but it also shows future potential candidates that you offer a great working environment.

Wine tasting

Similar to the care package idea, a virtual wine tasting on Zoom can be a lot of fun. Alcohol will make people more sociable, but with controlled portions, things shouldn’t get too out of hand!

TIP: Trying something new as a team will help bring people together and it’s also a good laugh if there’s a not-so-tasty drink included!

Why fun and games can work well

For people who have a degree of social anxiety, sometimes social settings with people they aren’t too familiar with can be daunting. But the beauty of games is that everyone has something to talk about and focus on, which can allow shy people to come out of their shell a bit more.

Instead of thinking of something to say or staring at themselves on screen, the game can take center stage and give everyone something to focus on.

Is it right for everyone?

We’re all different – so while the social butterflies of the team might love video calls for virtual coffee breaks twice a day, others might disagree.

From a business perspective, it makes sense to at least check in once per day ‘officially’ in addition to the ‘as-needed’ calls.

After that – it might be best to talk to your team and see what suits them.

But even those who are happy in isolation will likely agree that a Friday team call or a monthly company call is good for morale.

Social connectivity during remote work is essential and requires some fine tuning to suit the needs of your team.

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