6 Ways to Encourage Social Time in the Remote Workspace
July 6, 2022 (Investorideas.com Newswire) Working from home can sound like a dream come true, but it is often isolating and can make it difficult to stay motivated. Encouraging staff to participate in social events has long been a challenge for employers, and the remote workplace is no different. It can be extremely difficult to get your remote staff together for a social event - even if it's virtual.
So, how are companies doing this? Take a look at some of the advice shared by experienced remote work leaders below!
1. Schedule Social Time in Meetings
Socialization during official meetings sounds a bit odd to people who are used to the traditional in-person workplace. However, for remote workplaces, this can often be the only time the whole group can talk to each other. Scheduling time into a meeting that allows people to update each other on projects as well as life events and general conversations can improve the relationships on your team.
"Including blocks of time in meetings for people to simply catch up with the group can be so beneficial to combatting that isolation that many remote employees feel," says Sean Byrne, Founder and CEO of Sweetkick. "I like to block this time at the beginning of the meeting so that people aren't rushing off to another appointment and it's obvious that this social time is not only allowed, but prioritized."
2. Forced Mingling
After hearing someone refer to icebreakers by this topic, it's hard to think of them as anything else. As much as they make us want to roll our eyes, initiating games and activities in a cheesy way can be the start of more social involvement from your team members. Looking into creative icebreakers or activities that encourage your staff to open up to each other can improve the social culture of your workplace.
"Sometimes going back to those icebreakers we had to do as kids on the first days of school can be a great way to get your team to talk (and even bond over the ridiculous thing they're being asked to do during work hours)," says Drake Ballew, CEO of Practice Health. "Send everyone a prompt and have them fill it out with information like hobbies, family info, and so on. You can partner people up to discuss their answers or make it into a guessing game to see how well your team knows each other."
3. Social Meetings
Create a regular schedule of social meetings for your staff to opt into. They don't have to participate but consider making them interesting by posing a topic or creating a theme for each week or month.
"Throw an optional meeting into the calendar for your staff to attend if they choose," says Chris Coote, CEO of California Honey Vapes. "I think we forget how often we chat with coworkers in the typical workplace. Those 'water cooler' conversations don't happen around the coffee station anymore when you're working from home. You can overcome this by throwing a 'coffee break' meeting for people to hop into while enjoying a morning or afternoon coffee together as they catch up for a few minutes before starting their day."
4. Create a Culture of Intentionality
The more you push your staff to be social and interact with the intention of getting to know each other and support one another, the more your team will be able to build trust and work well together. We so often forget that people have other things going on in their lives but that knowledge is so critical in situations where you have people working together.
"Set an example by making time to talk with your staff on an individual basis," says Lilian Chen, Co-Founder and COO of Bar None Games. "If that's not possible, encourage each team leader to do that with their staff. Create a system of intentional mentorship that not only communicates a deeper level of care for your staff, but it allows for a natural social relationship to start forming between your staff members as well. Encourage them to check in on each other as well and watch the workplace blossom."
5. Celebrate Together
Is someone on the team having a birthday, expecting a baby, getting married, or achieving a career goal? Throw a virtual celebration for them! These can be as simple as a quick zoom call where everyone jumps on and sends a digital congratulatory card to the recipient or they can be more elaborate and creative.
"I've known workplaces that take celebrating milestones very seriously," says Adam Nadelson, CEO of The IV Doc. "For an employee's virtual retirement, they would send out a package to that employee's entire team so they could all participate by wearing party hats, enjoying a cocktail, and celebrating together from their own homes."
6. Virtual Fun Days
Fun days and picnics are common for the traditional workspace, but it's more difficult to do these things for a virtual workplace. However, there are significantly more options when it comes to planning a virtual fun day to reward your staff for their hard work and boost their mental health with a break.
"There are tons of options out there that your team can participate in," says Alex Chavarry, Managing Member of Cool Links. "There are now virtual escape rooms, virtual party platforms, and other virtual activities out there that you could invite your team to participate in. If none of these things sound like something your team would enjoy, be creative and try something new!"
In conclusion, while the virtual workplace is a little more difficult to find opportunities for social interactions, it doesn't mean that your workplace has to be antisocial.
Explore the possibility of integrating social time into your schedules by opening time at the beginning of the meeting to catch up with your staff or schedule virtual coffee breaks that people can jump into if their schedule allows.
Because of the limited contact your staff has, it's important that you ensure they're participating in these events. You may have to be creative and use icebreakers or other conversation starters but once they get to know each other better these things should become more natural.
Additionally, special events and activities can be planned virtually. They may look a bit different and require some creativity, but they're definitely possible and your staff will appreciate the effort.
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