Social connectedness—the meaningful relationships people tend to create wherever they go—is an invaluable aspect of the office experience. However, with most of us now working remotely, recreating those connections virtually can be tough.
As workplace communication and collaboration move online, organisations have a responsibility to maintain the social wellbeing of their employees. Staying connected is key to that—and it will also keep your culture strong. Here are a few ways that leaders can encourage connectedness across their organisation, plus a few ideas on making the transition more fun (happy hour optional).
Ask for Ideas
You hired a group of talented people. Why not ask for their ideas to stay engaged and connected with one another? Two heads are better than one—and you might be lucky enough to have an entire organisation full of creative minds at your disposal. Send your team focused surveys to get their thoughts, or better yet—customise the Open Door feature on your Hive platform. Not only will ideas be personalised to your current culture, but they will also speak to your people’s most-pressing needs.
We already know that 70% of change initiatives fail largely due to employee resistance. We also know that when people are truly invested, any change is 30% more likely to be successful. Make your people feel like they’re directly contributing to the initiative, and you’ll likely see significant spikes in engagement, participation levels and, ultimately, your newly remote culture.
Make Everyone a Leader
Thinking of all your people as leaders is a mindset that’ll make a major difference in your business. Everyone within an organisation should be a leader in some capacity; it may not be hierarchical and they might not necessarily be a decision-maker, but everyone’s a leader in that they’re always innovating and thinking about what they can do to make sure the business thrives.
Employees who feel heard in their organisation are 4.6 times more likely to perform their best work. And the initiatives don’t always have to be major. From collaborative Spotify playlists to brainstorming on client challenges—take advantage of your people’s brilliant ideas and empower them to drive change across the organisation.
Make the Time for a Casual Check-In
Ultimately, right now won’t be business as usual. While we still have agendas, priorities and checklists for every meeting, now’s the time to create space for social connections wherever you can. When getting teams together, no matter the reason, begin with the personal. Talk to your people about how they are—any social chat—to help ward off feelings of isolation.
You never know. Sometimes, that one meeting may be the only social interaction your teammate receives all day. Don’t miss that moment to show that you care; it can go a long way.
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And now: the fun part. The way to stay socially connected is to mirror what your teams have enjoyed doing already. Whether you’re using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another video platform, you can have a lot of fun online with your coworkers, replicating gatherings at the ping pong table, a quick chat in the kitchen over coffee or sitting at a bar after a Friday meeting.
1. Motivational Monday
Never miss a change for inspiration. Whether it’s a house plant that finally bloomed or a cheesy quote from Instagram, create a space for employees to share their inspirations—big or small. A no-pressure activity with your teammates can make a major difference in fostering the feeling of connectedness.
2. Quiz Night
Always a great way to bring people together and hone that competitive edge. At Hive, we’ve been taking turns to host a quiz on Friday afternoon over Zoom. It’s a great way to round off the week and decompress with your teammates and a drink, if you’re partial.
3. Peers in Passing
Make a cuppa, cut yourself a slice of cake and have a chat with your teams, as you would in the office kitchen. Keep a virtual room open for an hour in the morning—or even all day, if you have the bandwidth.
4. Lunch and Learn
This is a great, casual environment to invite top leadership or partners—or even a member of your team with an interesting hobby or passion—to speak on new initiatives, changes in the industry, or simply something interesting they’ve learned.
5. Happy Hour
This one’s a crowd pleaser. From a formal Whiskey Club to a casual happy hour after a long meeting, sitting back and relaxing with your employees can add the lighthearted atmosphere many people need after a long workday (and steals them away for another hour from having to wash the dishes).
Ultimately, finding creative ways to communicate is at the core of maintaining your organisation’s culture in a remote working environment. In fact, various studies have found that continual communication is a leading factor in successful organisational change management.
It’s not limited to the working day, either. Many of us are used to socialising with our colleagues outside of work as well. So making an effort to get together virtually on evenings and weekends might make all the difference—but be aware that some might like their space, so don’t force it.
Whether it’s a morning cuppa or a Zoom room open eight hours a day, social connectedness is more important now than ever. As we become fully immersed into remote workplaces, the social wellbeing of employees must come first. Not only does it keep them sane, but it’s good for business, too—both from a cultural and bottom-line perspective.
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