With mobile technology allowing for increased workplace flexibility, many companies, some for the first time, now work entirely remotely. This virtual reality can be a culture shock to those accustomed to collaborating with a team in person. After all, humans naturally gravitate toward building connections with others. So, how as a leader do you maintain an engaged remote team?
A remote workplace, however, can offer other unique ways to interact with your teammates and maintain a sense of cohesion. These communication tools also boast the added benefit of keeping teammates on task.
A remote workplace offers unique ways to interact with your teammates and maintain a sense of cohesion.
Skype, Face-time, and Other Video Conference Tools
In our current digital age, mobile devices facilitate communication with others beyond a simple voice call. Face-time and Skype, for example, allow you to video chat with others from any location with adequate Wi-Fi or cellular service. Other video conference tools like Zoom even offer integrated screen-sharing capabilities that add additional context to a conversation.
One of the most significant advantages of video conference tools is the human element they employ. You can pick up on nonverbal expressions and instant reactions that in-person conversations provide. Nonverbal communication is crucial for collaborative work. There is also comfort in seeing a familiar face to combat feelings of in-home isolation. Sometimes just joking with teammates in a virtual face-to-face meeting can be enough to maintain high morale.
Some video conference tools provide essential complementary functions. For instance, Zoom allows you to record video conversations to be saved to cloud storage for future reference. This feature grants engaged remote team members access to archived videos that assist in recalling important tidbits on a specific project. Also, the video conference proctor can host several employees on a single call, with the focus shifting to the active speaker for seamless interaction.
Podcasts and Vlogs
The work, work, and more work formula does not amount to a healthy workplace atmosphere. An essential part of the workplace for many employees is the “water cooler” talk that allows for the establishment of deeper connections among coworkers. Reserving weekly social time for engaged remote teams to provide others with personal updates adds a fun layer to telecommuting. Weekly podcasts and vlogs offer engaged remote teams a platform to record short, light-hearted snippets that can are accessible via cloud storage or a company intranet website.
Podcasts and vlogs focused on a specific weekly topic. With most Americans staying in place for the near future, ideas to help occupy extensive downtime can be especially useful. Some easily created topic ideas include:
- An explanation of a new hobby or personal interest.
- Explanation on how to maintain daily routines in different environments.
- Workout routines for at-home exercise.
- Adding a spin on project discussions.
The recent surge in telecommuting has popularized virtual book clubs. While celebrities like Oprah and Reese Witherspoon hosting virtual book clubs for years, the concept now appeals to a more significant portion of society.
Book clubs, especially those with books centered on inspirational topics, can help engaged remote teams adopt new analytical skills or concepts to apply in their work life. They also build teamwork among remote teams as they share thoughts and analyses on a shared subject. Most importantly, book clubs foster a “student mentality” among team members that inspires them to strive for constant development, especially in their communication and problem-solving abilities.
Here are some tips for managing a virtual book club:
- Offer employees several book options to vote for (pick books that are also available as eBooks)
- Establish the number of pages or chapters each week
- Hold a weekly book recap via video conference. Draft specific group questions to discuss and allow for open forum thoughts
- Allow different employees to assume a discussion leader role.
“A book club can be an affordable, informal way to grow as a leader.” – Natalie Daher
While these tips and tools may not work for all companies, the beauty of a remote workplace is its flexibility. The communication style of each company will often reflect its unique occupational identity. Still, any approach should focus on a universal objective; to maintain a connected and engaged remote team.