How to Connect with Your Remote Team and Build Culture
- Show extra empathy
Many of us are facing new and additional responsibilities, from caring for our children, parents, and loved ones who may be sick or quarantined, to financial pressures and existential dread. A rule we try to follow at Bonusly is: “assume positive intent.” Try to be extra patient and kind with your coworkers, and you’ll help create a culture of trust and encouragement, not pressure and shame.
Staying connected: ideas
“Okay, I get it!” you might be thinking, “It’s important I connect with my coworkers intentionally and in a kind-hearted way. But how do I go about it?”
I’m glad you asked! Here are a few ideas you can champion in your organization.
Check in on your coworkers
With the missing serendipity of passing by your coworker’s desk or bumping into them in the kitchen, you’ll need to intentionally reach out to see how they’re doing. You don’t need a work reason to check in. While you don’t want to overdo it, a once-in-a-while, “hey, how are you doing?” can help you and your coworkers feel less alone. The advantage of doing this over an asynchronous communication tool like Slack (or email) is that you won’t interrupt their work – they can respond on their own timeframe!
Remember to listen actively, give your coworker the space to feel whatever they’re feeling, and don’t be afraid to share your own worries and frustrations. After all, trust is built through vulnerability.
Knowing someone out there cares about how you’re doing – not just your work product – can make all the difference.
Be explicit about recognition and praise
We spend a lot of time thinking about recognition at Bonusly. We believe that when great work is visible, it keeps everyone informed and inspired and helps people understand why their contributions are meaningful. Positive communication helps employees feel more connected to and engaged with their work. So, be explicit about recognizing your colleagues – thank them publicly and in detail for their work via email, on Slack or Microsoft Teams, or with a dedicated employee recognition tool like Bonusly.
Create dedicated social spaces
Bring everyone together over Google Meet or Zoom for the sole purpose of hanging out and catching up! Holding virtual happy hours, team lunches, or even employee-led yoga classes is a great way to create low-stakes opportunities for meaningful connections. A social gathering can be a great way of bookending the workday, signaling that work is over, and helping prevent the remote burnout we mentioned earlier. Finally, tools like Donut for Slack can randomly pair you up with your colleagues for informal small-group chats.
A few particularly creative Bonuslyans (hi, Connie!) have helped our team come up with all sorts of great and silly ways to have fun together over Slack.
- We completed our first Starch Madness, pitting 16 forms of potatoes against another, leading to an unbelievable finale.
- We played “guess this baby,” trying to match baby pictures with our teammates.
- We started a remote lunch-and-learn, where coworkers share their hobbies, passions, and learnings.
- One of our coworkers started a weekly remote yoga class.
- We made a video series for everyone to share their remote setup.
We’re in this together
At a time when more and more of us are isolated and trying to stay productive, it’s crucial that we intentionally connect with our coworkers. For all the awesome benefits of remote work (freedom, flexibility, focus), it’s important that your coworkers don’t start feeling “out of sight, out of mind”. You can nourish your company culture and encourage employee engagement while everyone’s WFH by expanding meaningful relationships, publicly recognizing great work, and creating dedicated spaces for social connection.
Whether your team continues to work remotely or happily reunites back at the office in the distant future, you’ll be stronger for it.
For even more tips, best practices, and strategies on how to engage your remote workforce, check out our guide: