For many businesses and employees, the transition to working remotely has been both a blessing and a challenge. First, some gratitude: yay to being alive! Yay to still being employed! Yay to only having to dress from the waist up! Now that we’ve settled into our new norm in these extreme times, how do we make this work and stay connected as a team?
We initiate, we communicate, and we appreciate! It’s natural for remote employees to feel disconnected — especially during this time. With so much uncertainty, communication is often one of the first things to suffer when there are significant issues to face. Don’t let it be forgotten! Communicating with intention and showing appreciation for your team is majorly important to keep them engaged and feeling secure.
Keep Everyone in the Loop
Your team will feel respected when you share what’s going on in a timely manner, and this is another opportunity to share your appreciation and show your trust. In times of uncertainty, transparency is a gift — sharing what you don’t know is just as important as sharing what you do know.
Check In, and Do It Often
“Distance doesn’t separate people. Silence does.” – Jeff Hood
Just as information in times of crisis changes rapidly, so does your team’s emotional and mental state. Starting each conversation with a simple “how are you?” is a great way to check in on your team on a personal level, before diving into work. Not surprisingly, this happens less than you think, and means more than you know — especially in stressful times. Checking in with your team members frequently and personally reinforces that you care about staying connected.
Be Flexible and Understanding
Times of crisis affect everyone differently, and issues require individual attention and personalized solutions. Show your appreciation for your employees’ contributions by being flexible and accommodating their unique needs. Examples of this could be an adjusted work schedule, personal time off, or even loaning equipment or furniture to facilitate a new remote office setup.
Counteract the Negative with the Positive
As Buddha said, “What we think, we become.” Celebrating successes, sharing good news, sending inspirational quotes, or cute videos — all of these are simple ways to keep morale up and create positive distraction and redirection. Every positive action, no matter how big or small, chips away at weakening the negative influence of the issues we’re trying to overcome, even if only temporarily.
Encourage Others to Speak Up
Kind words and appreciation shouldn’t just come from managers. Encourage your entire team to share positive feedback at any time, and spread the love! Recognition among teammates is a powerful relationship and morale booster, although it may need a little encouragement to get started. To get things going, we will often create activities focused around sharing feedback about one another — such as a compliment board — which is always a huge hit. Our team at Symphony also enjoys taking assessments related to personalities or work and communication styles, and we will review those as a team to better understand one another. Those types of analyses are a great way to not only create a discussion among the team, but inspire conversations around qualities we appreciate in others and how they uniquely benefit us as a whole.
Send a Surprise
A verbal or written thank you is always welcome, no doubt about it. But, who doesn’t love a surprise? An unexpected token of appreciation goes a long way. We recently sent our team plants as many of them are missing their desk plants, and many could also use a new hobby or roommate to talk to right now! We’ve also been sending greeting cards and gift cards in the mail for team member milestones we’re missing celebrating together while we’re working 100% remotely. The reaction to getting an unanticipated delivery has been unanimously uplifting.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
Creating virtual versions of typical in-office activities helps to keep up the communication momentum. It’s easy and natural to communicate less when you’re not prompted by seeing your teammates each day, but it’s important to maintain as much normalcy and as many lighthearted touch points as possible. Get creative! You can create new versions of in-office contests or events, hold a virtual spirit week or trivia game, or even start a book club. One of the ways we express employee appreciation at Symphony is via fun team activities that create a break to connect, and serve as a reward for all of our hard work. Unique situations breed opportunities for new team bonding options too — virtual Friday happy hour or team meeting costume contest, anyone?