2020 has been a year of challenges, and across all industries, companies are working hard and fast to remain efficient in the face of a new normal. Now that hiring freezes are slowly thawing out, many companies are starting to hire new people virtually and want to create remote cohesion between new and existing teammates.
The lack of physical proximity means your team will need to ramp up on communication, transparency, and accountability. In an office, even getting a cup of coffee is an opportunity to check in on a coworker who sits en route to the kitchen. Without those organic ways to connect, it’s important to build them into your new WFH routine. Let’s take a look at some ways you can add bonding opportunities to your team’s schedule.
This is your weekly staff meeting. Ramp them up! Have more than one a week to give people more face time. Seeing everyone together is a reminder that you’re a part of a team. Use this time to provide updates on your work and go over any new policies or processes that could be developing due to the new environment. Adjust the frequency as needed to avoid video fatigue. If a new member is joining the team, make sure to invite them to all existing team meetings before their first day. It will automatically make them feel welcome and spare them the awkwardness of accidentally missing a meeting or asking to be invited to something.
An oasis is a meaningful, scheduled break from work. Encourage your teammates to make time for these breaks individually or as a team. They usually take place in the middle of the day when individuals need an energy boost. Socializing can also provide an emotional boost to people feeling isolated during this time. Every week, six or seven of us jump on a call to play Pictionary or Codenames. If you’re someone who prefers smaller groups, feel free to reach out to one or two people for a coffee break instead!
Virtual Happy Hours
Similar to an oasis, hosting a virtual happy hour allows everyone to loosen their proverbial ties. These meetings should happen outside of work hours. Be inclusive by encouraging everyone to participate with their beverage of choice, whether that’s a beer or a hot chocolate. Even in person, making small talk with coworkers can sometimes be awkward. Another way to ease some of that pressure is to host a team game-night. A few rounds of silly drawings will quickly loosen people up. LogicMonitor’s People Operations Team has a weekly happy hour and it varies in format to cater to different comfort levels of socialization. Some weeks we have small groups of five to seven people, and other weeks we do full team meetings.
Themes and spirit week ideas are a great way to keep your Stand-ups and Happy Hours from growing stale. Use ice breakers and themes to help people share small and fun details with the group and connect with each other. At LogicMonitor, the Talent team starts the week with Mindful Mondays during standup. Going around the virtual room answering a question keeps conversations casual and fun. Questions range anywhere from “What’s the hardest thing about working from home?” to “What reality show would you like to be on?”
Fridays are for Fun! The themes chosen for Fun Fridays are meant to encourage people to share some of their favorite things: color, food, or video games!
Some of our most fun spirit days have included pairing off and showing up wearing matching outfits, using our favorite memes as virtual backgrounds, and a classic “show and tell.”
Here’s the Talent Team on Hat Day!
Everyone’s level of comfort around themed events is different, so allow for some flexibility. Some people might dress up, some might only use a virtual background to share something about themselves, and some others might want to simply make a quick mention. It’s important to welcome all levels of expression equally.
For managers and team leads, schedule regular blocks of time when employees can ask questions that they forgot to ask during the last meeting, work out small problems that don’t require a ton of time, or just pop in to say hello!
It’s very easy to forget to check in with someone if you can’t see them sitting next to you. As a manager, make sure you’re scheduling regular 1:1s with each person on the team. Give your employees a platform and safe space to discuss work, roadblocks, or anything else they want to discuss. As an individual contributor, 1:1s with other team members can help cultivate work friendships. For new hires, this is a great way to learn people’s names, their background, and find common ground. Remember to leave some time for an organic chit chat about non-work related topics. Have you watched any good movies lately?
Pairing your new hire with a team member that can be readily available via Slack or Zoom to answer any questions will provide a feeling of support.
Now, more than ever is a great time to practice your active listening skills. Non-verbal cues can sometimes get lost during video calls, so it’s important to really ask and understand what your teammates need from you, and to express what you need from your teammates. Communication styles differ from person to person, so remember that some folks want to engage in a little chit chat before beginning to work, while others want to dive right into the weeds. Certain individuals thrive in team collaboration, and others do their best work solo. Striking a balance and adapting to different ways of connecting will be imperative to your team’s success.
Many of the teams at LogicMonitor practice some or all of the tips above. If you’re interested in joining one of the LM teams and learning more about our #oneteam values, please visit our careers page.