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Finding ways to form relationships and encourage collaboration is one of the trickiest challenges for today’s remote companies. As a fully remote company, we've tried out a bunch of strategies to stay connected. In this blog, we’ll share our top tips from our archive of lessons learned.
This past year, millions of people suddenly found out what it’s like to work remotely.
While the circumstances of what led to this remote work shift (we shall not speak its name!) were less than favorable, many have found their new work situation is.
- 99% of remote workers want to continue telecommuting in the future
- 90% of remote workers would recommend working remotely to a friend
- 77% of telecommuters report being more productive
Here, at Scribly, our team has been fully remote since we launched. And being a global team, we’ve learned a few things about how to make remote work a success. One of the most important things that we’ve found is that being remote does not negate our team member’s needs for connection.
But first, why should you care? Is this remote work thing going to stick around?
Why you should care about developing an effective (and sustainable) remote culture
There have been some mixed predictions from experts on whether or not remote work is going to be the new norm. Some argue that remote work is simply a trend that will fade after life returns to normal. However, statistics show that the workforce is leaning in the opposite direction:
- In one recent survey, 65% of respondents reported wanting to be full-time remote employees post-pandemic
- 27% of workers say that the ability to work from home is so important to them that they’d be willing to take a pay cut to work remotely
- And 81% say they would be more loyal to their employer if they had flexible work options
It’s not just employees driving this shift, either. Company leadership is seeing benefits in the form of major cost-savings, increased employee satisfaction and higher productivity. Some of the largest companies in the world like Twitter, Facebook and Adobe have announced plans to increase their remote workforce permanently.
We know remote work can work — because we make it work every day at Scribly. We love that our team gets to have more family time, more flexibility in their schedule and a safer work environment during this crazy time. However, we also know that we have to put extra effort into combating the isolation that remote work can bring.
Here are the strategies that work for us. We hope they can work for your team as well!
Our tried and tested strategies for staying connected as a remote team
1. Make use of instant messaging tools
In an office, regular casual chatter is the norm. Stopping by someone’s desk to ask a quick question or checking in to see how they’re doing is an everyday occurrence. But in remote teams, you lose the ability to do these quick pop-ins.
Luckily, tools like Slack can be useful for connecting with colleagues throughout the day.
These instant messaging tools serve a few purposes:
First, they give you the ability to ask questions to managers or coworkers without needing to send a formal email every time.
But maybe more importantly, they allow for non-work related connection. Like sending funny gifs to your work bestie during a droning all-hands presentation. Or, asking your team member how their weekend was. These are little interactions that can make a big difference in the day of a remote worker.
2. Share to-do lists
Wondering what all your coworkers are up to?
Using digital tools like Notion can be a great way to visualize what your colleagues are working on each day.
Basically, this online to-do list syncs all your team tasks into one dashboard. It’s perfect for managers who might be wondering what everyone is up to while working from home (just try not to micromanage!).
This program (and others like it) are less about being nosy and more about behind a cohesive team. Knowing where every task for a project stands helps keep deadlines in check and ensures everyone is on the same page.
3. Celebrate — remotely!
Just because you’re not in the same physical space doesn’t mean you have to skip celebrations! Celebrating events (both work related and non-work related) with your team members and coworkers is an awesome bonding experience. So don’t ignore them. Instead, find a creative way to celebrate them remotely.
For example, is it someone’s birthday on your team? Are you coming up to the end of the working year? Did someone have a baby or hit a major target? These are all perfect excuses to have a celebration.
So how do you do it?
We’ve seen a lot of creative ideas from remote teams as of late for celebrations, including:
- Mailing cupcakes in a jar to team members for a Zoom birthday party
- Mailing cocktail kits to coworkers for virtual happy hours
- Having scavenger hunts around everyone’s hometown for prizes
- Creating celebratory videos to share
While we all miss the pub, you don’t need to go anywhere to have a fun celebration. Just remember — try not to talk business if you schedule a video call for socialization purposes.
4. Schedule regular catch ups with individual colleagues
Remote should not mean ‘distant’. This is especially important for remote bosses or managers. Staying connected with what your team is up to, how they’re feeling, what challenges they are facing, etc., is vital to their success.
Remote managers have to be intentional about setting aside time to catch up with each of your employees. When you’re working remotely, you don’t get the same non-verbal cues from your team members as you would in an office. It’s not as easy to tell if someone is having a bad day, if they’re overwhelmed, frustrated or angry.
To overcome this obstacle, check in with your team regularly. Don’t just ask how work is going, but ask how their wellbeing is. Ask about their family and any obstacles they may be facing working from home.
Many employees (remote or not) won’t be open about sharing their struggles with management unless they are asked. So make it a point to ask — then, work with your colleague to come up with some solutions.
5. Take virtual lunches and coffee breaks
If you’re going to be eating at your desk anyway, might as well invite a coworker to join you! Virtual lunches and virtual coffee breaks are a fantastic way for remote workers to get some interaction and recharge. They’re also a unique way to hold meetings.
If you’re a manager, why not treat your team every now and then to lunch by ordering via a lunch delivery service like Doordash? Or, send them a coffee gift card via email to use for your coffee break. These small details really go a long way in helping remote workers feel like a valued member of the team.
Staying connected requires knowing when to disconnect
One of the biggest issues facing remote workers is the inability to disconnect. When your office is your home and your home is your office, lines can sometimes get blurred. It’s too easy to stay online 24/7 and reply to your emails as soon as they hit your inbox. But trust us, this only leads to burnout, unhappiness and job dissatisfaction.
If you’re a remote worker, and especially a remote manager, it’s important to set a precedent of logging off for the day and maintaining work/life balance. Fight the urge to be available at all hours and set a good example for your other team members.
Surprisingly, knowing when and how to disconnect can help your team stay better connected.
So, there you have it — everything we know about staying connected as a remote team. Interested in learning everything we know about how to make your company a powerhouse of content marketing? Learn more here.