The Importance of Staying Connected

By: Andrew C. Jackson

Last March, like many other firms, we transitioned to a 100 percent remote workforce. This was a dramatic shift for our company.

Our IT systems were already cloud-based, which made the transition easy from a technology perspective. We were proud of our staff’s efforts to adapt to the new quarantine-defined environment. We quickly adopted a number of best practices for maximizing productivity and teamwork – daily huddles on TEAMS to make sure everyone was aligned, distinct KPIs for each staff member and well-defined weekly/monthly expectations.

Five months in, with the mechanics of managing a remote team in place, we are now trying to recreate the team dynamics that used to occur naturally in a shared space. Without spontaneous encounters and watercooler discussions, we are concerned about losing team synergy and morale.

Maintaining our culture and taking care of our corporate family is an important factor to our success. We want to avoid losing a valued team member who no longer feels connected or who may be silently struggling.

Here are a few ideas we’ve implemented to keep our team engaged and reduce stress:

  • Virtual happy hours initially helped provide some relief to employees adjusting to working from home. These informal, off-the-clock meetings helped us check in and inject some fun into the work week.
  • A second wave of events included virtual meetings with organized activities and games such as Two Truths and a Lie, Throwback Thursdays, Who Am I and a virtual scavenger hunt. These events were very well-received.
  • We have encouraged managers to make unscheduled check-in calls with each direct report once or twice a week to ensure everyone is on track.
  • Going forward we are planning some virtual cross-functional activities to increase communication between departments. These team functions will provide the double benefit of addressing process improvement and employee engagement.

As of this writing, we find ourselves at a fork in the road – some employees are ready to meet in person again while others prefer continued social distancing. Without judgement, we are attempting to accommodate everyone with a hybrid approach. We have hosted an outdoor group activity and will continue our virtual get-togethers.

As we make our way through 2021, we’ll likely evolve our strategy, making sure we’re focused on keeping employees not only safe, but also connected and feeling valued.

Let us know what your team is doing to replace the spontaneous encounters and water-cooler conversations of the past.