5 Ways to Stay Connected With Your Remote Team in the New Normal

Adjust to our socially distanced, yet digitally connected, new normal with these simple tips.

5 Ways to Stay Connected With Your Remote Team in the New Normal
Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Digital communication was already in use before the COVID-19 pandemic, but not at the scale that we’ve seen in 2020. One study of 152 human capital executives found less than 10 percent of the workforce primarily worked from home pre-pandemic. Now, Global Workplace Analytics estimates that 25 to 30 percent of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.

The challenge, of course, is staying connected. Employers want to make sure their staff members are just as productive and collaborative even when they aren’t in the office. This requires a combination of both new tools and old-school best practices. Use these five steps to adjust to our socially distanced, yet digitally connected, new normal.

1. Build in Daily Warm-Ups

Remote work comes with certain benefits. Team members don’t have to commute across town, which means they don’t have to dress professionally—only from the waist up of course—and can sleep in a little longer. However, these perks might also make it harder for team members to hit the ground running each morning.

You can help people wake up and get tuned into their workday with a team warm-up. For example, ask employees to answer a fun question about themselves in the group chat each morning or dedicate the first ten minutes of your Monday meeting to checking in after a weekend.

Having a few moments of fun can help team members wake up and get their minds ready to work while creating personal connections with team members. This also helps mitigate the loneliness of working from home.

2. Create Social Channels in Chat Threads

If your company uses an internal chat tool like Skype or Slack, create a dedicated channel for fun updates and social posts. This thread serves two benefits:

  • It builds employee camaraderie in the same way that your morning warm-up does.
  • It encourages employees to keep the chat window open, increasing its value as more people use it to communicate.

This fun chat thread creates a “come for the puppy photos, stay for the question on tech support” experience, which benefits everyone. Plus, it creates a low-stress way for team members to use collaborative technology to truly connect, rather than just talking about work or feeling like it’s a chore to check-in.

3. Use GPS Tools for Your Road Warriors

As states start to open back up, companies are sending their employees out on the road to meet with vendors, work at remote sites, and close sales pitches. However, since the start of COVID, more people are picking up rental cars and driving instead of heading to their airport.

In fact, air travel in the United States dropped 70 percent in July 2020 compared to the same time this year. Meanwhile, the percent of people taking road trips increased.

If your travel team is hitting the road, consider investing in GPS software so you know where they are and how productive they’re being while on the road. This tool makes it easier to connect with your team because you won’t interrupt them when they’re on the road—the last thing you want is to call someone when they are driving. Plus, you can easily reach out and ask them to stop at other locations along the way if a deal in a nearby location comes to your attention.

Check out these five GPS tracking apps to find one that ensures your employees are staying productive and not getting distracted by phone calls or stops along the way.

4. Create Standard Operating Procedures for Your Tech Tools

Using multiple digital channels can create communication overflow, which is both frustrating and overwhelming, making everyone less effective. Work with your team to develop guidelines for sharing information. For example, important documents should be shared on both chat and in the company-wide file storing platform while quick requests should just be sent via chat, not through email or a phone call.

With everyone on the same page for communication, along with knowing where to go for documents and files, fewer people will get left out or give up.

5. Train People How to Communicate Digitally

During the pandemic, most remote workers learned how to communicate in a “trial by fire,” process. They jumped on Zoom and Slack quickly and hoped to learn as they used the tools for work. These employees may have significant knowledge gaps as to how these tools are beneficial and how to maximize their use.

Digital communication training needs to be a continuous process for your brand. In a survey by Deloitte, 58 percent of respondents said they’re retraining and retooling current talent to prepare for a digital future. Hosting monthly training seminars or even weekly office hours for employees can help those who are less confident to catch up.

Find the Communication Strategies That Work for Your Team

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to improving communication and making your team feel more connected. Instead of expecting a new tool or software option to solve your problems, try different strategies and see what works for your staff. If there’s one key takeaway from 2020, it’s that people who are adaptable to change can weather almost any storm. If you can be flexible and your staff is open to new ideas, you can find tools and processes that work for you.

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Jessica Thiefels
See all posts by Jessica Thiefels