Building in-person professional relationships is more challenging for teams working remotely. For example, there are fewer opportunities for interpersonal connections in the office kitchenette or spurring a spontaneous brainstorm session across desks.
Fostering these connections is necessary for productivity and employee engagement. According to a recent global survey by Asana, a project management platform, nearly twice as many employees felt connected and supported by their manager when using a work management tool.
With a little help from technology and a focused, organizational approach, remote professionals can stay connected and engaged with their team from home. Here’s how.
Check in with your team often
In addition to workers adjusting their shift’s start and end times, the survey also found that 26% of professionals are having to conduct work around other home demands, like childcare. As workers adjust to a “new normal,” managers can stay connected with their direct reports by establishing recurring video check-ins.
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This gives employees the confidence that their leadership is making space for their questions, ideas, and feedback. For example, managers can leverage video platforms like Zoom to hold 10-minute video calls every Friday. During this time, managers can check on project statuses, employees can share what they need help with, and both can collaborate on a game plan for the upcoming work week.
Keeping an open-door policy is also key to supporting a remote team. The goal is to stay empathetic and available. If needed, managers can also establish boundaries to protect their time for their own projects—for example, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Whichever time is protected, make sure it’s clearly communicated with your team during check-in periods or at broader team meetings.
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Provide channels for remote collaboration
As more companies face the challenges of remote work, digital tools help teams stay aligned. Business communication platforms, like Slack, let employees connect through dedicated “channels” that are created for specific goals or purposes.
Professionals who are working toward the same certification, for example, can create a group channel for discussion, support, and motivation among their peers. Similarly, a dedicated channel can be used as an open forum for suggesting new products or services, and improvements for existing company offerings.
Allowing teams to connect, relate, and share feedback with one another helps their professional success and engagement with the organization.
Effectively connect through email
When face-to-face connection isn’t a realistic option, written communication is a critical alternative. Although chat tools can be effective for informal or timely messages, email communication is ideal for sensitive material or messaging that requires more care.
Using emails for professional relationship-building requires technical accuracy (e.g. grammar, spelling, and punctuation) so the message is clear. However, failing to hit the right tone in written communications can detract from your intended point. A tool like Grammarly offers in-line editing suggestions and a tone detector that helps you craft a message that’s easy to understand and achieves an effective tone.
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Workplace communication tools can help make internal connections possible for remote professionals. And as more organizations make mindful shifts in their culture and processes, remote teams can begin to feel the professional camaraderie they once enjoyed.