How to Stay Connected Virtually

During conversations (digitally, of course!) with a lot of people in recent times, an oft-repeated query is how teams can stay connected when everyone is working remotely. Based on my speeches at various webinars and my own experience during the last four months, here’s a compendium on the topic.

Convert a necessity into a virtue! Yes, it is possible! Since everyone is working virtually, the platform is universally digital. So, online games, online training, online engagement programs can help teams stay emotionally connected even as they are physically distanced!

Go beyond employees: During physical connect programs at the office, only employees get to participate. When everyone is working from home, families can also get involved! We organized a Master Chef contest for our employees and their families recently, and it was a revelation seeing the mouth-watering recipes being prepared by the family members of our employees! The event was very well appreciated by one and all.

Fun @ work: A lot of people frown on fun activities at the workplace, with the mistaken notion that fun is typically for youngsters. It is perfectly ok to dance & sing in front of the camera and present a smiling face to your team rather than the stern corporate look that has become the default mode of expression.

Learn…digitally: Since many individuals are saving time on their commute, this is the perfect time to train colleagues on the courses they have set aside for the rainy day! The competitive edge in today’s marketplace comes from a learn-it-all attitude, not from a know-it-all one!

Nourish, mentally and physically: Good bosses will ask you to take a day off. But great bosses will push you to stay healthy, mentally & physically. Share advice on mental and physical well-being. Since people are caged at home, mental health as well as physical fitness need reinforcement! 

Begin & end the day with rituals: A classic crib in these times is that WFH has no boundaries. The best way to replicate a day in the office is to begin and end the day with rituals so that all the people involved, get the signal that the day has begun, and, equally importantly, that the day has ended. 

Party…virtually: A wonderful way in which we ensured a strong connection was by celebrating birthdays virtually. The operating procedure was simple – colleagues join using a digital collaboration tool, the person celebrating their birthday is on video with the family and a cake, folks sing, the event is recorded, and, lo & behold, a memory of a lifetime is instantly created!

Over-communicate: One of the most under-rated skills in the current scenario, it is extremely important to communicate what you are doing to your team members, colleagues etc. Since people cannot see you physically in the office, frequent communication helps everyone stay & feel connected.

Move from audio to video: While most people switch on audio calls by default for various reasons (not dressed formally, bandwidth issues et al), it is a relief to see other human beings. So, a weekly video call is a must to ensure strong team bonding.

Distance can truly be just a number if we are really focused on collaborating & creating shared experiences. Just by virtue of having shared the same problems, jokes, satisfaction, and joy, we realized that by sticking together while practicing social distancing, we can still stay joyous and emerge on top. "

For more executive career advice through an uncertain job market, the BlueSteps complimentary guide COVID-19: Career Navigation Through a Global Pandemic is now available.  

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