All of a sudden, you’re a remote worker.
With the COVID-19 restrictions causing isolation, it’s difficult to try and overcome challenges – and still have meaningful team-building experiences when we’re in our own working environments.
But it’s necessary, because a strong team can better solve problems and get results for clients without missing a beat.
Use the following strategies to bridge the miles and create a feeling of community for your remote team.
At Flight Media, under “normal” circumstances we’re a semi-remote team. We have people located in Canada, Europe and the United States.
The majority of our team is in the U.S. and we’re used to working together and being able to do some impromptu team-building-type activities like walk to the coffee shop or grab a quick lunch.
We’re all on our own and it’s a strange new (albeit, temporary) normal.
Here’s what we’re struggling with.
The truth of the matter is that different can be hard.
It was difficult before – with at least some of us together – and it’s darn near impossible now.
We’re used to having some remote members. We’re not used to EVERYONE being on their own, and this has presented some new challenges.
Schedules can be difficult to sync, and for those of us not used to working at home on a regular basis, the logistics of communication can be tricky.
For example, thanks to the Coronavirus and resulting Stay-at-Home order, my husband and I are both working from home, in addition to our college student and two high school students doing school.
Finding the privacy for a Zoom meeting or Google classroom event requires an Extreme-Difficulty-Level Sudoku brain.
And for those of us who struggle with change, this extended remote experience can throw us off mentally and emotionally.
Working remotely can leave you feeling lonely, detached and out-of-the-loop, especially when after-work activities and connections are limited, too.
It’s hard to tell if anyone is struggling with the limited communication when you can only see their head and shoulders on a video call.
In person, you notice body language, moods, etc. that are more easily hidden via video calls, emails, and other messaging.
We’re also missing the camaraderie of casual conversation, easy encouragement and a quick laugh with our coworkers.
To be fair, the drive into the office is short for all of us. We’re located in a relatively small town, and it takes, maximum, 15 minutes tops to go anywhere.
Especially for our team members who always work from home. 😉
But the point is, we’re OUT for those minutes. We get some air, we see the sky, stretch our legs, and feel the sun (or rain, sleet, and snow) on our faces.
The commute may be short, but it still gives you time to gather your thoughts, wake up (for some of us), and get yourself ready to tackle the day.
You’re probably thinking: You’re loco! What does your commute have to do with team building?
I don’t know about you, but the time to myself on my short drive, seeing the sun, stretching my legs, and gathering my thoughts helps me to be a better team member.
And each of us being our best selves is at the very heart of team building, isn’t it?
Enough with the Debbie-Downer business.
Our situation is what it is, and we can still be building relationships with our team members even though we’re not physically in the same place.
In other words, suck it up, buttercup, and make the best of it!
Here are some ideas for making connections from the safety of our own homes.
Since the Stay-at-Home order came down, our team has been having a brief Zoom meeting every morning.
This “All Flight Media Huddle” is a time to connect and check-in with each other. It’s casual, low-key and the purpose is just to have some face time.
Ours only lasts for 15 minutes, so it’s not a drag on productivity. And the argument could be made that it’s actually a boost.
What will work for your organization? Maybe every day is too much, but twice a week is perfect.
Tweak it to meet your needs and provide some much-needed encouragement amongst your team members.
This is something we’ve done in the past since we always have remote team members.
Each week, two people can “meet up” for a one-one-one Zoom call. Set a time limit, grab your favorite beverage or snack and just chat with a coworker for awhile.
You could even make it a virtual lunch and eat together if you’re really ambitious.
This is especially beneficial for those of us who are more introverted and don’t always speak up in the larger group meetings.
Need some light conversation starters? Use the time to talk about books, movies, TV, sports, etc.
At Flight Media, we do this about once a month
We play a game together that we can all participate in – from wherever we are. There have been some hits and some misses, but it’s always fun.
There are many ideas out there for games that can be played virtually.
In these crazy days, it may be a good idea to do something like this every couple of weeks, just to keep the good times rolling.
Everyone can find something they’d like to improve upon in their personal life.
Maybe you want to read more books or get more steps. Whatever it is can be turned into a team-building activity with your team.
For example, at Flight Media, we had a fitness challenge. Different activities were assigned point values. We kept track and at the end of the month, the person with the most points got a prize.
Before you freak out about the thought of running a marathon to be a good team player, it’s important to note that our activities were simple. Like, super simple, guys.
Walking up and down the stairs was five points. Even walking down the hallway earned a few.
Anybody can find some way to challenge themselves and each other and have fun while doing it.
It doesn’t have to be fitness related. Another challenge we did was choosing some areas where we wanted to form good habits. One team member committed to flossing every day. Another decided to compliment someone each day.
You might find that working toward these goals together not only makes you a stronger team, but also makes you a better YOU in the process.
If your team isn’t using Kudoboard, you’re missing out.
It’s like the old method of passing a card around for everyone to sign but way cooler.
Each person can personalize their message with a meme or GIF of your own or choose one of the many Kudoboard has for you to use.
At Flight Media, we use them for birthdays and work-versaries, but it would also be a great way to encourage your team members in these strange days of quarantine.
Here’s an example of a Kudoboard everyone contributed it to in honor of our Content Director’s birthday.
Yes, there are struggles associated with the change to being a totally remote team.
But there are ways to keep your team connected and growing together so you can continue to offer your clients the services they need to get the results they want.
Plan times to virtually meet as a group, as well as some one-on-one time, too.
Find ways to have fun with regular game times and encourage each other with Kudoboards. Stay motivated with challenges your whole team can benefit from.
It takes some effort but it’s well worth it.
A strong team makes each person better and gives your organization an edge.