How to Create Connection in a Remote Workplace

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Over the past few years, remote work has become a reality for many people in the workforce. Even for those who work for organizations that have returned to in-person work in some way, remote work is not going away—hybrid work is here to stay. This has resulted in both opportunities and challenges when we look at how we can connect and come together as a team that may be distributed across geographies, time zones, or even countries. 

This has presented a whole new challenge for many managers and HR leaders who want to foster and support connections among team members but can’t rely on tactics such as bringing in free food, giving away swag, or setting up nap rooms or ping-pong tables. Here are some effective ways to build and maintain strong connections in a remote workplace.

Provide a Variety of Communication Tools

Since we can’t just count on bumping into someone in the cafeteria or swing by a co-worker’s office to chat or get a project status update, it’s essential to make sure that we’re using a variety of communication tools and platforms, including:

  • Instant messaging: Platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams facilitate quick, real-time communication and check-ins.
  • Video conferencing: Tools such as Zoom or Google Meet are perfect for face-to-face interactions, which help to build rapport.
  • Project management software: Trello, Asana, or Jira all help in tracking projects and ensuring everyone is on the same page, even if that communication is asynchronous.

SGO’s tip: Create clear guidelines on how and when to use different communication tools. For instance, at SGO, we use Slack to let the team know when we sign on and off. It’s also great for quick chats and huddles. Emails are generally used when we have more formal, long-form conversations or project discussions and also with clients. We use video and audio meetings for team meetings and catch-ups. Asana is our tool of choice for tracking projects and client work!

Regular Check-Ins

Frequent check-ins are vital to ensure everyone feels included and heard. These could include:

  • Daily check-ins on project status updates, deliverables
  • Weekly or monthly team meetings
  • One-on-one developmental meetings between managers and their direct reports

SGO’s tip: It’s OK to switch up the scheduling and cadence of your meetings! Sometimes, what works at one point in time doesn’t work later on. For example, we have switched from having weekly all-team meetings to monthly team meetings, back to weekly, depending on factors such as team size, ongoing projects, and team interest. We also aim to have these meetings on Mondays or Tuesdays so we can start the week off by being in alignment with each other. 

Virtual Team-Building Activities

Engage in activities that promote camaraderie and allow team members to connect. This could include:

  • Virtual co-working. Set up a Zoom room and encourage employees to ‘drop in’ to co-work with each other virtually. They don’t need to talk with each other, but it can be a nice replacement for how it would feel if everyone were working at the same desk. 
  • Themed meetings: set up fun-themed meetings like “Show Your Pet Day.” 

SGO tip: Ask your team what they would be interested in doing as a virtual team-building exercise. In the past, the SGO team has done everything from virtual cooking classes to a murder mystery drag brunch to a virtual session of ‘SGO Cribs’. 

Celebrate Achievements

Recognize and celebrate both professional and personal milestones:

  • Highlight work anniversaries, project completions, and individual achievements.
  • Share personal milestones like birthdays or new additions to the family in team communications.

SGO tip: We have a #celebrate channel set up in our Slack team that we use to highlight wins and shout out people. We also have an #athomelove channel where people can share more personal accomplishments and news, like a new baby or pet. 

Building connections in a remote workplace is about more than just using the right technology—it’s about leveraging tools intentionally and making sure that we remember that we’re all on the same team, and that can hold true even when we’re not physically close to each other.