Effective Ways to Make Work Friends For Productive Remote Collaboration
Working from home is a requirement for many people these days, and while there are lots of advantages of being able to set your own hours and work from your bed if you choose to do so, remote collaboration is an aspect that you shouldn’t neglect. The social component of work is vital for team cohesion and for avoiding spending too much time in solitude.
But how do you go about making friends when you’re working remotely? While the task is not very easy, the good news is that is it possible to stay in touch and have fun. With a little bit of creativity, you might even forget that you’re not in the same office as the rest of the team. Here are some simple ways to make work friends and collaborate with your virtual team when working remotely.
Create rituals for the virtual team
Teams that work in traditional offices often have their daily or weekly rituals that help everyone feel included. By creating routines for a virtual team, you won’t feel disconnected, and you’ll have something to look forward to social wise.
Weekly virtual coffees have become increasingly popular with remote teams because they are the easiest way to replace the water cooler chat. These meetings should be separate from the regular team meetings, and they should do precisely what it says on the tin — have a conversation with the rest of the team with a cup of coffee or tea in your hand, talking about what is happening in your life, just like you would do around the water cooler at a regular job.
Other rituals that may make it easier for the team to collaborate and bond include virtual lunches to mimic those you would have in a cafeteria and celebrating birthdays virtually, complete with birthday cupcakes and singing happy birthday. You can also start a virtual book club or invite everyone to take part in a weekly yoga session.
Communicate everything clearly
When you’re working remotely, communication is essential, and it’s always a good idea to implement frequent check-ins with the entire team, preferably on a daily basis. This helps to improve overall remote collaboration. Sharing any updates and changes in the business should be instant, and holding regular meetings for everyone to remain connected is a great way to keep people in the loop.
Creating a chat room that remains open 24/7 is an efficient way to get team members to feel like a family. Whether you choose to create such a chat room on Slack or Zoom, make sure you set up some ground rules in order for the discussion to remain friendly, but professional. Chat systems are often used by remote workers not only to collaborate on projects but also to blow off steam or do fun things like sharing pictures of their pets.
Many people like to know the other members of their team in person, especially when it comes to long-term projects. Hence, videoconferences are often a great idea to introduce new members to the rest of the team or simply to keep everyone connected on a regular basis.
Another idea is to set up a team channel for milestones in the employees’ lives. This could be used by everyone to announce events such as engagement, weddings, babies and other accomplishments. Such a channel where co-workers congratulate each other for various milestones makes everyone feel included.
Broaden the discussions
When working remotely, it is often easy to neglect personal relationships because discussions about work take priority. Try to broaden the daily and weekly discussions to include topics such as new movies, current events, music, and even family life. Even though it is not always possible to replicate an office environment, you can get pretty close by incorporating these kinds of discussions, even when the main topic is still work-related.
It’s also important to recognize and share cultural differences among your team members, as it is always interesting to learn more about your colleagues’ cities neighbourhoods or countries. Many remote teams appreciate sharing funny memes of YouTube videos to take a break from work while still keeping in touch with colleagues and having a laugh together.
Equip the team with all necessary tools for collaboration
For a remote team to be successful, team managers need to make sure everyone is equipped with all the tools they need to succeed and improve their remote collaboration. From providing workers with hardware such as a landline or a laptop or any other piece of equipment that is required to complete the job successfully to implementing streamlined communication via messaging tools such as Slack, team managers need to offer every member of the team the necessary tools for them to be effective at their job.
Just like in traditional jobs, remote workers should receive training with any third-party platforms they might need to use for their job and receive background materials with all the information they need about the company and its clients, as well as prompt login info to all the platforms they are required to use. All this is essential for making collaboration easy not just between management and remote workers, but also inside of a team.
All of the above strategies are proven ways to make work friends and collaborate with other members of your team when you work remotely. Nevertheless, these are some of the methods you can employ, which means that you shouldn’t be afraid to try out innovative strategies in order to improve collaboration across the teams you manage. By focusing on clear communication and making sure not everything is about work all the time, you can replicate the social component of a traditional office quite easily.