How to help your team stay connected when working from home

Due to the pandemic, many office workers are now working from home. If you are a manager of a team, you may worry that the lack of in-person interactions can lead your team members to feel disconnected.

Here are 5 things that you can do to foster a sense of connection even though everybody is working from home. 

Schedule more frequent touch-points

When everybody was in the office, having a quick chat with your team was pretty easy. One-on-ones were often only reserved for formal appraisals or coaching sessions.

With everybody working from home, however, the chance to have casual chats and to provide immediate feedback drastically reduces. One way to compensate for it is to schedule more frequent touch-points. Instead of meeting your team members one-on-one monthly, you may decide to increase the frequency to bi-weekly or even weekly.

These sessions can be as short as 15 minutes to 30 minutes, and they do not have to be as formal as the usual performance reviews. 

Utilize the breakout room function in Zoom

If you have a big team of, for example, 15 people, it may be difficult for your team to engage in interesting discussions that are not necessarily about work.

From my personal experience, whenever there is a team meeting with many participants, people tend to be very work-focused and shy away from sharing personal stories. If you, as a manager, want to help your team members feel connected to one another, then you may want to utilize the breakout room function in Zoom. This function is ideal for facilitating small group discussions because it allows you to split your Zoom meeting up to 50 separate sessions.

I have found that conversations tend to be more free-flowing once people are in small groups, and even the ones who rarely speak up during big team meetings share their views more readily.

If you want to organize and host an effective Zoom call, you will want to avoid these 8 Zoom call blunders

Show your willingness to be connected to your team

As a manager, what you say and do is what people will imitate.

If you want to help your team stay connected despite the working-from-home policy, then you should demonstrate that you want to be connected to your team as well.

Here are a few specific things you can do to show your team your willingness to stay connected:

  • Don’t only talk about work. Share a personal side of you. 
  • Proactively reach out to team members and ask how they are doing. It can be as simple as a “how are you” message on Skype or Teams, or even better, a “happy birthday” email on his/her birthday. 
  • Connect with your team on common grounds. For example, if both you and a team member have kids who are attending virtual classes, you can share tips and tricks on how to help your kids learn better. 

Host virtual team lunches

A direct consequence of working from home is the disappearance of in-person team engagement events. However, this does not mean that you can’t host virtual events that help your team stay in touch.

An easy event that you can consider implementing is a virtual team lunch. Instead of going out to a restaurant, you can ask your team members to order take-outs from their favorite restaurants, and then expense the lunches for them.

Enjoying a meal together will be a fun way to keep everybody connected. Don’t procrastinate; start planning now!

Encourage your team members to chat with one another more frequently

Of course, connections shouldn’t just be between you and your employees; it should also be among employees themselves.

As a manager, you can encourage your team members to chat with one another more frequently, whether it is through virtual coffee chats, text messages, or phone calls. 

Final Words

Communication is key to finding a sense of belonging. It is even more important when everybody is working from home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you put in the effort to keep your team feel connected, you will be rewarded with an engaging team.