Many companies have shifted to a fully remote mode and it seems like this is the new normal. Many companies have faced productivity and efficiency challenges and it seems like the practices which were already in place in outsourcing companies are successfully adopted or simply more services are outsourced.
But there is an important problem which still remains an open issue: how to keep your team chemistry alive when your team is remote? How to replace these micro-interactions with colleagues around the coffee machine or over lunch? These ad-hoc conversations help us generate ideas, improve social links, and are simply a great opportunity to enjoy communication with other people.
Psychologists say that face-to-face communication is crucial for small groups – it’s the glue that keeps teams working together effectively. So what can be done when we can’t meet in person?
Unfortunately, there is no perfect alternative to face-to-face communication, and after the pandemic, I believe we will shift to some hybrid model. But there are still some good and effective practices that can be used right now.
1. Take a walk and breathe in some fresh air.
When we are enjoying communication with other people, oxytocin, dopamine, and a few other important neurotransmitters are released. They increase oxygen flow to the areas of the brain responsible for keeping us alert, focused, and effective.
A 15-minute walk outside will be just as beneficial.
So, plan a 15-minute walk before your online meeting to make it more efficient and enjoyable.
2. Take another walk and breathe in some more fresh air.
All of us know very well how difficult it is to stay concentrated during a lengthy call with many participants. It’s a huge temptation to switch to some other tasks, respond to some emails, etc. I cannot blame you for this, but I would advise to try not to email your boss who is sitting on the same call :)
Some managers try to implement some disciplinary policies, such as keeping the camera always on and hands visible – and it only makes things worse.
But seriously, what can be done to improve this experience? The answer is simple – establish a camera-off policy and ask your team to take a walk during calls. You will be pleasantly surprised with how their attention and involvement will improve.
3. Create a virtual environment for informal communication.
Yes, you cannot meet your colleagues around the coffee machine but why not have an instant online room “Coffee machine, 14th floor” that people can connect to and chat? Or maybe a “wine room” after hours? Promote this initiative and let people create these virtual meeting places, and you will finally get visibility on when the work is being done in reality. Most important here is not to try to control or measure it somehow. Let informal stay informal.
And have a nice walk 😊