One of the hardest aspects of managing virtually is keeping your staff engaged. When you’re not all in the office together, it’s very easy to lose that unified feeling. Trust and teamwork take a long time to build and only a short time to erode. So how can you make sure your team stays cohesive even when you’re physically separated? We’ve got a few suggestions.
First, and we’ve written about this before, communicate! Having daily check ins, and even check outs, is vital to making sure that your team stays on the same page. But it serves a more important purpose as well. It gives your team a chance to connect. For some, this may be the only people interaction they get all day. Give everyone a time to share. How are they adjusting? What hobbies have they picked up? What shows are they watching on Netflix? Take the time to let everyone unite over the craziness that is quarantine, let them bond over their shared experiences, and know that they aren’t alone.
Second, set up a virtual “watercooler”. Most people don’t realize the value of the five minute chat you have with someone in the kitchen over coffee, but these small conversations go a long way towards building community. If your company has the resources, set up a virtual room that is always open where people can just come to chat any time they need a break. If you don’t have the ability to have an all-day room, schedule time for everyone to get together, it could be morning coffee, or an afternoon break, or a happy hour. Whatever it is, let that time be purely social. People might bring up work on their own, but don’t set an agenda or try to get anything accomplished. Being together is the agenda.
Lastly, keep up the practice of stopping by someone’s desk. Similar to the second suggestion, this allows those little moments of connection to still happen. Yes, this is harder to execute when you’re not in the same building, but it can still be done. The tool used will be different for every company. Maybe you have a chat app like Slack, or maybe you’ll just make it a phone call, or maybe you want it to be video. You may need to set certain “on” hours where everyone knows to be available, but again, that’s different for each company. Either way, don’t let the distance change the way you would normally reach out to coworkers about small questions.
Communication and connection get infinitely harder when you add in distance and adopting some of these suggestions may be hard. You’ll need to give yourself and your team some grace to adjust and get used to this new way of working. If you can effectively put some of these practices into place, your team will come out stronger on the other side. Do everything you can to bring your team together in this crazy time.
Stay safe and stay healthy.
If you’d like to discuss more specific aspects of how to lead your company through this crisis, give us a call. We’re here to help.
firstname.lastname@example.org – www.eureconsulting.com – (434) 202-8590