Blue Beyond Consulting

5 Ways to Connect Your Remote Team

Did you know that there are very few things that motivate employees more than a strong connection to their coworkers? In fact, research shows that people who have a good friend at work are not only more likely to be happier and healthier, but they are also seven times as likely to be engaged in their job. For co-located companies, closeness happens almost organically over lunch, coffee breaks, or a beer after work. But how can you ensure that your remote teams remain just as connected as those in the office? 

The truth is that employee engagement and team effectiveness is an outcome of whether or not employees truly feel connected to the company, its purpose, and their coworkers. Focusing on what makes your company unique — shared norms, mindsets, and behaviors — will enable your team to work together effectively.

There are many ways to promote your culture and build connections with your remote team — here are five to get you started.

1. Ask how they like to work

It may seem silly but asking your team what works best for them can help you establish effective workflows. Allow your teams to work asynchronously, which can help drive deliverables without having to wait for others to complete a task. Not only does this promote connection and engagement, it allows you to demonstrate empathetic leadership, a key component of a successful remote work model.

By establishing a cadence that leans into the ways they work, you’ll maximize their productivity and set them up for success on their own terms (remote work loves autonomy). 

2. Communicate then communicate some more

One of the most effective ways to make your team feel connected is to make them feel heard. Schedule regular 1-on-1s that focus not only on the work and what you can do to support them, but also to ask how they’re doing as people. Ensure that everyone has an adequate feedback loop to communicate concerns or questions without being afraid. Communicate via different channels such as chat, email, or project management apps so people aren’t in meetings all day.

Hold regular team meetings and make space for people to enhance their relationships with their colleagues. One simple and engaging way to do this is by beginning your next meeting with interesting icebreaker questions. Use the below conversation cards and ideas to get started.

3. Put your values into action

Your company’s values are the heart of your culture and alignment around those values helps your organization to achieve its core mission by providing a common purpose. But it’s not enough to put it on a poster or a plaque – you have to visibly live those values everyday.

Find ways to model your organization’s values by aligning them with your organization’s culture activities and recognize and reward those who live them. Consistently communicate and train your values and don’t forget to ask your employees what values matter to them to ensure alignment. We can help you do that with Values Navigator™. 

4. Make others feel seen and valued

Out-of-sight should never mean out-of-mind and one of the biggest pieces missing for remote workers is recognition. In fact, a Gallup poll revealed that only 25% of remote employees felt recognized for their work. This can lead to disengagement and feelings of being forgotten, which will destroy connection.

Bringing recognition rituals to your remote team brings your team together. It can be anything from a shoutout on a team or company meeting to a personalized gift or an eCard. Show appreciation beyond just work things too (e.g., Best Office Coworker Award goes to – Frodo the Cat!). Use our fun template below to create and send kudos right away. 

5. Share stories

At the core of all human interaction lies emotion. When you tell stories, different areas of your employees’ brains are stimulated, combining words, logic, emotions and sensory images. Good stories make us feel something as we listen to them — excitement, empathy or enthusiasm. Storytelling is a powerful tool to build a feeling of community and connection.

Build a story that helps team members connect their functional activities with the organization’s objectives. Allow your team members to share stories about how their work has made an impact or that of a teammate who contributed to a project. Sharing stories will help your team stay motivated and engaged. Download the activity below to get started.

The Wrap-Up

Supporting one another and building connections is crucial to the emotional well-being of your teams and in turn, crucial to the success of your organization. Remote teams can be very close-knit, but the distance involved requires better planning and deliberate effort. Utilize communication, keep it fun, tell good stories, and maximize productivity by living your values and recognizing your team members. By taking a little time to build strong relationships, you’ll create a more cohesive and effective team that is setup for success.

Feeling a little disconnected? See how Blue Beyond can help you create strategies that engage and inspire your remote teams.