Never met your colleagues and potentially never will? It might just be okay.
Whether it’s as an employee or an employer working for a global business, colleagues who are part of a remote-first company, or just within the context of a global pandemic, collaboration and camaraderie have been tested to their limits over the last 15 months. But humans are resourceful, flexible beings able to pivot and make the best of exacting situations, right? Below, Contented have gathered a handful of top tips, tried and tested by various companies and their teams, for helping yourself and your own team to forge meaningful working relationships, when circumstances mean you just can’t get that stuff done in person!
- Utilise the myriad of tech tools at your fingertips! It might take a little experimenting to find what works best within your business, but tools such as Donut.com do a fantastic job of reminding us to connect with each other. This may be through a virtual coffee, an introduction, or even through chat channels devoted to all manner of topics and interests. Whether it’s horse riding, the Euros, coffee or horticulture…if someone wants to talk about it, provide the space for it.
- Buddy up! Whether for onboarding a new starter, or facilitating communication between employees whose day-to-day at home means their paths won’t naturally cross, having a buddy can help employees feel that there is always someone to bounce ideas off. This should be someone who they can trust has their back for discussing everyday tasks, as well as opportunities and challenges. For those workers who have been in the company for a while, this is an opportunity to expand their network and gain new perspectives on their workplace!
- Send something in the post. In a world where contact between people has been entirely transformed and heavily digitalised, a thoughtful gift can be a tangible and meaningful gesture that will brighten up someone’s day significantly. A great way to express gratitude and to learn about personal taste and style — it doesn’t need to be expensive, just considered.
- Over-communicate! Pleased with someone’s work or grateful for their help? Send an email and tell them the what and the why. It sounds a little full-on, but remember, we have so little access to the usual non-verbal cues confirming the quality of our help and our work, so making it super clear in this way can only be a good thing. Something irritated you? Say it! Anything left to stew, without the ability to meet up and shake it off over a coffee or after work drinks, risks getting out of proportion later on. Mixing up the communication channels you use can help with this — voice notes, video calls, ACTUAL phone calls…
- Monthly passion pitches — in one team we spoke to, once a month, someone on the team presents their hobby, passion or something they are working towards right now. It’s a way to learn about what makes different members of the team tick, and although they don’t talk about work-related matters, it proves an excellent exercise in presentation and public speaking practice. Which can only be a good thing.
- Perhaps a less formalised version of point 5, and one that takes very little planning! Run a Friday digest — an hour every Friday for the whole team to get together on a call, with no need to talk work. Alternating breakout rooms each week means that colleagues meet each other for informal chit chat in a more relaxed environment than the ‘all hands’ weekly Zoom!
Got other gems to share around working harmoniously together, despite not being in the same space? We would love to hear them and share! Say firstname.lastname@example.org.