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    4 Ways to Help Virtual Teams Feel Connected at Work

    Looking for ways to help your hybrid and virtual teams feel connected at work?

     

    Employees continue to work from home, whether full-time or part of the time, as we find ourselves still navigating the new world of work.

    Core Leaders are being called upon to consistently take action to cultivate feelings of connection to employees.

    For employees who no longer go into an office, many express that on some days they are dealing with the added challenge of feelings of isolation, loneliness, a lack of belonging, and missing the social interaction they once had with colleagues in the workplace – elevating the importance of meaningful interactions with their teams and Leaders.

    For those who are being required to return to offices in person – even part time – there are stresses of child care, commuting, and concerns about exposure.

     

    Here are 4 best practices we have gathered from coaching hundreds of Core Leaders across industries since the beginning of the pandemic:

     

    Be Present, Vulnerable and Real
    Core Leaders set the tone for how safe it is for employees to talk about what is going on for them, and potentially ask for help. Removing distractions, making sure not to multitask when talking with employees, and modeling appropriate levels of self-disclosure signals to employees that their Core Leaders are available for a real interaction.

    When employees share their challenges, they experience that their Leaders care about them, and creative problem-solving often becomes possible.

     

    Create Forums for Casual Contact
    In a distributed workplace, the opportunity for casual contact between meetings, after a weekend, and throughout the day must be created or they likely won’t occur.

    Beyond group meetings and social hours that are often structured and not always appealing to the introverts on your team, letting employees know that you are available to take a break and have lunch or a coffee with them, publishing office hours and inviting employees to drop-in, and setting up open forums for idea sharing and brainstorming can foster the type of interaction so many employees have been missing.

     

    Schedule Time for Individual Check–ins and Encouraging Check-ins Between Team Members

    Leaders set the tone for what gets discussed and prioritized.

    Be sure to reserve time during one-on-ones to ask questions to find out how employees are handling their work-from-home situation, how their home life is impacting their ability to do high-quality work and meet deadlines, and anything else they want to put on your radar.

    Sometimes employees just want to know that their Leader is aware of what they are dealing with, and at other times discussing solutions that would support them in being successful makes all the difference in the employee’s level of stress and engagement.

    A bonus? Encourage peer connection, as that also makes a big difference when teams are no longer working in the same office. Encouraging team members to reach out to each other to offer both friendly and practical support helps build the network of connection and trust across your team.

     

    Check Assumptions, Be Curious, & Read the Non-Verbal Cues
    Communication cues that we rely on when interacting face-to-face can get lost when all communication is happening through virtual channels. When possible, encourage employees to turn on their cameras, and then pay attention to non-verbal cues such as vocal tone, facial expressions, and overall affect. And if you sense that there is something that is not being said, or an employee is feeling discouraged or having a challenging time, be sure to reach out and make the time to check your assumptions and see what is actually going on for your team members.

    Experienced Leaders understand that helping employees feel connected is linked to employee engagement, and levels of employee happiness and well-being.

    Ask yourself how, in a virtual world, your teams can prioritize creating intentional connection.

    Being flexible and remaining empathetic toward all employees continue to be best practices in providing support during challenging times.

    Need help? Schedule a time with someone on our team to talk about it.

     

    About the Author:

    As the Lead Coach for Coaching Right Now, Jodi focuses on building community with CRN’s amazingly talented group of Coaches, and she supports the building of partnership between the Coaches and the CRN Team.