Jun 01, 2020

Bolstering Community and Connection Within Your Distributed Team

By Samantha Rupp

Bolstering Community and Connection Within Your Distributed Team
Guest blog by Samantha Rupp. 
Samantha holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for
365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.

Working from home has become the new normal across the United States, with workers telecommuting to jobs they used to go into the office for. While that definitely has its perks — who doesn’t love lounging in sweats all day? — it also comes with a few drawbacks.


Having an in-office team can bolster feelings of community among your workforce, and getting that in-person human connection can have a huge positive effect on morale. Managers of remote teams may find themselves struggling to keep everyone feeling happy, upbeat, and ready to work. 


However, just because you’re working from home does not mean that it’s impossible to keep your team feeling connected, and bolster the sense of community they feel. Today, we’ll chat about some of the best ways to keep your team’s morale high even through the current crisis. 


Hire the Right Team Members

Before you can have a well-connected and passionate team, you need to hire the right team members. This isn’t always easy, especially when assessing your options remotely; you don’t want to be catfished by a potential hire! There are a few steps you can take to ensure that the team you bring onboard is ready for whatever challenge you throw at them, and all with a smile on their face:


  1. Write a clear and direct job description. This should include all the necessary and preferred skills an applicant ought to have, that way, your potential hires self-select and you don’t have to sort through piles of unqualified applicants.

  2. Be sure you network. Networking is a great tactic for job-seekers, but it’s also necessary for employee-seekers. Many people in your circle may just know someone who’s perfect for a job that you need to fill.

  3. Hold video-call interviews. Sure, it’s not as good as an in-person interview, but it can certainly be enough to get you a sense of how candid and professional a possible employee will be when you hold video conferences.


Of course, chances are you’ve already got a solid team, which means you’re probably looking for the best ways to get them motivated and energized in these troubling times.


Use a Workplace Messaging App

Email has certain limitations. You can’t have an easy, conversational back-and-forth over email. It’s not fun to use. You can’t have a group-message style environment over it. All those drawbacks mean that it’s probably time to look for some other software to handle your workplace conversation and communication needs.


Luckily, there are a number of workplace messaging apps that you can download and use either for free or for a low price. Having a group message with your entire team on it allows your employees to relay quick bits of information that don’t require the formality of an email, or even just send silly jokes back and forth to keep each other engaged and motivated. It can be isolating to sit at home and work from your desk all day without any human contact. That makes it all the more important to keep your team’s morale up with a steady stream of conversation in a handy app.


Plan Remote Bonding Events

Many companies don’t just provide a workplace for their employees — they strive to provide a sense of community and belonging. That means events, like happy hours, bowling, rock climbing, or concerts are all a regular part of the modern workplace. However, in these turbulent times, and with many public venues ordered to remain closed indefinitely, managers may be struggling to build the sense of camaraderie and community that used to come so easily to their teams.


While it’s true that remote bonding events may lack some of the excitement of in-person events, it’s still wise (and fun!) to do your best and keep trying. There are plenty of available options for remote events, like games that can be played remotely while video chatting, or watch party browser extensions that allow you and your fellow video-chatters to all watch a TV show or movie together.  


Incentivize Teamwork

With each team member at home working on their own computer, seemingly isolated from everyone else, it can be hard for them to see the bigger picture. Of course, in reality, each person’s work is only one part of the puzzle, and it’s only by working together that your team — and your company — are able to get things done and make a difference.


One way to make sure that your team never loses sight of that bigger picture is by incentivising teamwork. Here are a few ways that you can implement that strategy in your workplace:


  • Pair team members off to complete an assignment together, so they always know who they’re checking in with, and they’re always accountable to someone to stay engaged and productive.

  • Send out regular updates on the whole project’s progress. This will keep people’s heads in the game.

  • Make a timeline with clear goals. That way, as team members finish parts of their projects, they can see how close to completion they are. 

  • Reward your team for meeting goals. If your team really knocks it out of the park, treat them to a little something. Maybe it’s lunch on the company card (remotely, of course), or getting off work early on Friday for a happy hour. It’s totally up to you!


Prioritize Flexibility and Understanding

At the end of the day, the pandemic and lockdown are trying times for everyone. Sometimes, with the world in the state it is, it can be hard for your team members to focus and keep their heads where they need to be. While that can have a negative effect on your company, it’s nowhere near as significant as the negative effect on the mental health and well-being of everyone affected by the pandemic. It’s good to find that perspective. 


If workers need to take a mental health day and clock out early, or they’re struggling with a sick loved one and have to miss work, a wise manager will be accommodating and understanding. You won’t build a well-connected community of workers with draconian policies, so be sure you put your team’s well-being first before any other consideration. With the right strategy and enough empathy, your workplace will feel almost as well-connected as it did when you were back at the office!


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Samantha Rupp

Samantha Rupp

Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.