A study by Clutch found that out of 365 United States employees surveyed, 66% of them work remotely for at least part of their work week with 44% working from home 5+ days a week. This is a steep increase from the 17% before the COVID-19 pandemic.
While employees rave about the positive qualities of working remotely, such as having no commute time, a more flexible schedule, fewer distractions, more time with family, and not having to dress up, there are also a few downsides. These include poor internet connection, feelings of loneliness, difficulty balancing work and life, and the biggest issue: difficulty collaborating with co-workers.
The best part of a workplace is the ability to work and collaborate with others. However, 33% of employees in the same Clutch study reported that the inability to collaborate with their co-workers remotely was the biggest downside to remote work for them.
Remote work is not going anywhere, so how can you turn your remote workspace into a collaborative, energetic, happy environment? How can you turn coworkers into teammates? We’ve compiled a list just for you of our seven favorite ways to create friendships, build unity, and stay connected when working remotely.
1. Host a Company Spirit Week
Think back to when you were in grade school, even if you rolled your eyes at spirit days they always were a great way to get to know your classmates and teachers on another level. Oftentimes we are all trying to be so professional and rarely let our guard down. Hosting a company spirit week allows you to get to know another side of your co-workers and is one of the best ways to bond with your team members.
A spirit week can be done just as easily remote as it can in-person. Get to know your teammates better and host a company-wide spirit week! Here are a few of our favorite themes for remote spirit days:
- Crazy hair/hat day
- Decade day
- Dress-like-your-boss day
- Tacky tourist
- Company colors day
- NASA/space day
2. Cheer Your Co-Workers On
Work days can be long, hard, and stressful. When working in a workspace, team members have the ability to talk, gossip, and rant to each other. This is not as easily accessible when working remotely.
One of the biggest challenges when working remotely is cheering on your coworkers. Being a cheerleader for your team is so important to its success. When people feel valued and recognized for their efforts, they continue to perform well.
Why do you think sports teams typically have cheerleaders? It’s because they cheer everyone up and lead the team to victory. It’s all about keeping the energy up! You can be that for your team members, even if it’s online over chat or on a video call! Being a cheerleader for your team will help you reach your goals.
At Appigo, we offer a team task-management tool specifically for teams. Todo Cloud for teams is a powerful tool that allows you to see what your coworkers are working on. It makes it simple and easy to collaborate as a team, track tasks, manage projects, and get stuff done.
One of Todo Cloud’s best features is the ability to comment on what your coworkers are doing. This allows you to cheer them on, offer feedback, and celebrate their accomplishments!
3. Eat Lunch Together Remotely
A study from Cornell University found that coworkers who eat together are more productive in the workplace. One of the study’s authors, Kevin Knuffin, stated; “From an evolutionary anthropology perspective, eating together has a long, primal tradition as a kind of social glue. That seems to continue in today’s workplaces.”
Unfortunately, working remotely has turned coworkers to eating by themselves in the comfort of their own home with their camera turned off. We know it feels a little uncomfortable crunching on a carrot or a sandwich while you’re on a video call, but there might be something important that we’re losing here by not trying to eat together.
Consider scheduling a remote weekly or monthly lunch together as a team to get to know each other better. This can be done through any video-conference platform. You can choose from the following methods when deciding how to organize these remote lunches:
- Meet together as the whole team and eat the individual lunches each person chooses to make for themselves.
- Meet together as the whole team and eat lunch provided by the company. Try DoorDash for Work to remotely send food to your employees.
4. Create a Drop-in Happy Hour
Looking for a way to unwind after a long week? Create a virtual drop-in happy hour with your coworkers. Everyone can sip on their favorite drink from home and you can unwind from the week. This is a great way to get to know your coworkers outside of the work environment and destress from a busy week.
Looking for some fun happy hour games? Check out some of our favorites here!
5. Set Company Challenges
A company challenge always brings team members together and everyone has a blast doing them! Teams that laugh together, stay together. Fostering team relationships can take time and effort but challenges are a great way to build team unity! The best thing about challenges is that they can easily be done remotely. It’s a great way to create excuses for conversation and connection among teammates.
Some of our favorite challenges include:
- The 75 Hard Challenge by Andy Frisella
- The MURPH Challenge
- Messy desk photo contest
- Book-reading challenge
- Iron chef cooking challenge
6. Join Company Group Chats
As crazy as it may sound, your employees and coworkers don’t think about work 24/7. They have other hobbies and interests outside of their 9-5 job. You may just have the same hobbies as many of your teammates!
If your company doesn’t already have a non-work related group chat, consider making one! You can create one group chat for a smaller company or you can create many smaller group chats based on interests. Perhaps you live near a ski resort and you love to ski, maybe your coworkers do too! Or maybe you love to binge watch TV shows, your coworkers could too!
7. Turn Your Video On!
We know that keeping your video on during a long meeting is annoying sometimes but the truth of the matter is that it helps you bond with your team. Biologically, humans connect with one another by physical queues, and seeing the person you’re interacting with is a big part of that. By keep your video on, you are more likely to:
- Contribute relevant comments to meeting
- Stay engaged during meetings
- Get less distracted by external distractions
- Take meaningful notes
- Learn and grow as a team member
If you’re struggling to keep your team engaged, require them to turn their videos on. Seeing the faces of your co-workers everyday will help you feel closer to them and slowly build a great relationship for your team.
We hope that these suggestions can help you foster connectivity and good relationships as you work remotely. Think we missed a good idea? Comment below!