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Team Building in the Age of Remote Work

We can all agree that one of the biggest challenges resulting from COVID-19 has been the sudden office closures and having to work from home. Working remotely in our climate of lockdown has affected employers and employees in many significant ways. From parents dividing their time between teaching and working, to employers forced to create a sense of unity amid all these changes, it has been challenging, to put it mildly. What was once considered a luxury, working from home has now resulted in many feeling isolated, distracted and in some cases overworked. Despite this, there are simple steps you can take to help your team stay connected and motivated while working remotely.

Respect Collective Intelligence

The term “collective intelligence” stems from Google’s “Project Aristotle”, which studied behaviours to figure out why some teams soared while others stumbled. The findings showed that teams thrived when they were each given the same amount of time to share their thoughts. The conclusion was that when employees feel valued, that their voices are being heard and that their work matters, then this will positively reflect in their work. If this approach is not doable, due to the size of your team or time restrictions, then you must make the time for employees to be able to express themselves. Employees should also be encouraged to share opinions on what matters to them. While they may not be experts on the topic at hand, doing so illustrates a genuine interest in their views. People with less experience can look at things from a different perspective and offer great ideas!

Use Simple Technology – Minimize Multitasking

On a given day, an employee may receive an email, Zoom, social media message and text. They may feel overwhelmed with all of the communication tools that they are using. A majority of people reported preferring one platform that provides continuity and consistency. Utilizing different platforms is inefficient, distracting and frustrating for many. Additionally, multitasking should be kept at a minimum. If everyone is involved in multiple tasks simultaneously, productivity levels will go down.

Create Fun Activities

Many non-work activities can be used as an outlet to share fun, personal things. Some of these activities can include: creating team channels, having a reward and recognition platform, sharing images/videos of home life (pets and children running around the house!) and having virtual drinks on Friday. This helps end the week on a high note and maintains a sense of routine.

Be Transparent

While you should not give employees an advance heads-up about layoffs, if rumors exist, you should mitigate any anxiety by addressing these right away. Tell your team that yes, you are aware of the rumours, and that there may be layoffs in the coming months, that although you cannot confirm any information, you will be there to offer support and/or resources should anyone feel overwhelmed. These conversations will minimize discontent, a reduction of output and attrition and generally boost office morale. Most importantly, remind everyone they are valued members of the team. Employees appreciate a culture of candor, and employers that are upfront and trustworthy are respected by their team.

Susan Gebrezgie | Contributing Writer

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