Hybrid and remote working are a part of the new normal – the way we live and do business in the wake of a pandemic. Even as more places of business open and employees return to in-person work, the hybrid and remote models are here to stay. While having employees work from anywhere has its share of advantages, one challenge employers face is facilitating teamwork. A sense of community and camaraderie is essential for employee productivity and job satisfaction. Cultivating teamwork for hybrid and remote working situations is a must to maximise employee output and retain talent.
Fostering Teamwork for Hybrid and Remote Working Groups at a Glance:
1. Give Them the Tools to Chat
When employees are not together in the office, it is difficult to catch-up on their personal lives and engage in idle conversation. This is a more significant loss than some employers may realise. Informal communication is a foundational piece in building a community. It lifts employee morale and encourages a sense of belonging.
You can recreate water cooler talk with your company’s communications platform. Establish a channel for general office chit-chat where employees can socialise. Chat channels with themes on fun subjects or challenges are also a great way to elevate team’s spirits and discover things team members share in common. What about a chat with funny photos of employees’ pets? Or maybe a virtual fitness challenge? In short, chat channels are an easy button solution to encourage teamwork for hybrid and remote working conditions.
2. Establish Co-Working and Knowledge-Sharing Spaces
Your team’s time may already be packed with meetings about projects and procedures. The idea of adding more meetings may seem counterproductive, but co-working spaces and knowledge-sharing sessions can be participated in optionally, and optimised for team building.
A co-working space allows remote team members to work together. One person simply opens a virtual meeting space and others jump on. You can encourage participation with themes like Work Outside Wednesdays.
A knowledge-sharing space is when a team member presents their expertise on a subject. It could be work-related, like sharing best practices on how to use a specific application. Alternatively, it could be non-work-related on a subject like baking sourdough bread. These peer-to-peer learning spaces can improve employee competencies in areas related to their position, but more importantly, they facilitate skills-sharing and collaboration among team members.
3. Schedule Team-Building Activities
Work excursions to escape rooms or obstacle courses are classic team-building outings. If your employees cannot congregate in-person, the good news is that you can perform most team-building exercises virtually. Trivia games, icebreaker questions, and group fitness classes are just some of the activities that can be transitioned online. Other socialising activities, like company lunches and happy hours, can also be enjoyed remotely. Simply give your team a budget to order their food and beverages, and set an appointment time to meet together online.
For hybrid groups where some people can meet in-person for a teambuilding event, be sure to include the remote workers via video conference. If this is not possible, make a photo or video montage of the occasion so remote workers feel involved.
4. Show Appreciation and Celebrate Success
Showing appreciation to employees, and celebrating personal and organisational successes, is generally easier in-person. Informal conversations and gatherings are natural settings for honouring someone’s work and sharing good news. Hybrid and remote workers need to be acknowledged for their efforts, and feel connected to other workers’ achievements and organisational accomplishments, too.
To achieve this, create a specific communications channel dedicated to this task. Many organisations find that a weekly newsletter is the right vehicle for sharing important developments at both the company and individual levels. Completed projects, closed sales, and positive customer feedback are just some of the successes to share with your team. When appropriate, include personal milestones, such as births, birthdays, and work anniversaries – all of this goes far in fostering teamwork for hybrid and remote working groups.
5. Conduct Employee Wellbeing Check-Ins
Employee wellbeing has become a top priority for business leaders and human resources and recruitment professionals. Working from home can blur the line between professional and personal life, causing employee stress. It is arguably more important now than ever to focus on nurturing employee wellbeing. This helps to develop resilience among your team members and their internal collaboration. Conduct wellbeing sessions with workers to get a sense of how they are doing and if they need resources to manage their work or work-life balance. Focus on asking open-ended, specific questions that go beyond how are you doing?
Consider some of the following wellbeing questions:
These check-ins should be a part of a larger employee wellness program and be consistently conducted by an appropriate supervisor or human resources personnel.
Creating and maintaining a culture of teamwork for hybrid and remote working environments means taking advantage of emerging communications technologies and blending them with tried and true team-building methods. By developing a plan that incorporates the above five tips, your organisation can reap the rewards of more engaged employees collaborating better with one another.
If you would like more information on preparing for a digital workplace, then check out part one of our blog about upskilling and reskilling employees in the digital workplace here.