Technology has made it easier to work with people over distance and remote locations, but can it maintain an emotional connection and a sense of community? The truth is that it comes down to leadership, technology can not replace human interaction on its own when promoting an environment of connection and collaboration.
Promoting a positive virtual community.
For many, office friendships happen over meal times and coffee breaks so promoting virtual ones where everyone can share a time to socialize through zoom while enjoying food and beverages is an excellent way to not only talk about work but what’s going on outside of work. Fostering a sense of community can merely be experimenting with regular virtual lunch breaks or happy hours where the focus is on social connection. Purposefully including a 10-minute space at the beginning of meetings for a social catch-up to see how everyone is doing is a great way to keep your connections strong.
Build virtual clubs and working groups.
There are so many topics to choose from, books, movies, music, and gaming are just a few that help bring a team together on an intellectual level. Healthy peer competition through team games and puzzle-solving contributes to creating a sense of community. It can help foster emotional connections in real-time and can inspire creative thinking and motivate teamwork that translates into the workspace. Colleagues who play competitive games demonstrate an ability to perform better, show more engagement and feel more relaxed. Smaller working groups to focus on specific projects or study groups are also great options for creating comradery, support networks and collaboration.
Communication is vital.
The key to bringing people together and collaborating is not just language but also the culture of communication and the shared values between your remote team members.
Having diverse and unique voices in your team is something to be encouraged. Having empathy for your team-members and between your team members for their unique challenges with remote teams comes from having a strengths-based leadership focus (link to blog). These soft skills will deepen relationships and nurture your community, whether remote or in office and encourage collaboration and connection within your team.