Ways to Increase Bonding for Remote Employees

By Ashley Paskill on September 19, 2021

One of the benefits of working in an office setting is being able to connect with coworkers, but the pandemic has forced many to work remotely. This has unfortunately left people working remotely, which has made it more difficult to build connections. Isolation has been a huge issue during the pandemic, both for individuals and for employees having to work remotely. However, there are many ways that you can help facilitate bonding opportunities for your employees, even if they are working remotely.

Allow for communication

One of the main things you can do to help remote workers feel connected is allowing for multiple communication venues. Many companies use websites like Slack so that employees can chat throughout the day. While you may have these set up and have specific channels for work, you can create new channels in the server for conversation that is not work-related. Just be sure it remains professional yet lighthearted. Having a way for employees to talk about things going on in their lives outside of work can help build relationships. After all, not every conversation, even in the office, is about work.

You may also want to introduce phone and video conference calls, especially if you primarily communicate by email. Leave a few minutes at the beginning or end of the call for general conversation that is not related to work. You may even decide to have a question of the meeting that is not work-related. This would allow employees to learn more about each other and see what they have in common with coworkers.

Image: Chris Montgomery via https://unsplash.com/photos/smgTvepind4

Do weekly check-in meetings

If you did check-in meetings once a week before the pandemic, consider doing a virtual version. This will allow employees a chance to see how coworkers are doing and get a sense that they are not alone in what they are dealing with. This also helps provide a sense of normalcy to an otherwise unique situation that has changed so much. Consider providing a chance to talk about struggles that employees are facing, both with work and in their personal lives. You may even decide to do a work-from-home fashion show or spotlight someone to show off their home office each week. This will allow them to feel more connected with each other, especially if they find someone who is dealing with similar struggles and different personalities that do not get displayed in the office.

Virtual events

A way to connect employees outside of the workday is by hosting an event after work hours. Doing a themed event like a holiday party, craft night, or trivia contest can be a fun way to engage your employees in a fun way, even remotely. Ask your employees about things they enjoy doing and see if you can implement them somehow. Even doing a talent show or karaoke night could be fun and entertaining.

Many companies have done virtual happy hours where they sent care packages to employees with the things that would normally be at a happy hour. They meet over video call and talk that way. You might decide to have a cooking demonstration or a trivia contest. This allows employees to do something they would have done in-person from the comfort and safety of their homes, and still have a way to be connected to each other.

Structured conversations

More than ever, it is important to foster conversations around shared interests and experiences. Having structured conversations outside of work hours can help bring people together. If you do not already, consider having professional development groups for those who are interested. There are groups that meet to discuss learning content, podcasts, books, and even TED Talks. Because things are virtual, you may even want to see if you can get in touch with the creators to join in on the discussion as well. Consider having lectures around topics that are of interest to employees. These sorts of events and conversations can help your employees bond with coworkers who have similar interests and hobbies.

General tips

In general, there are many ways to create bonding, but they only work if done correctly. Create space for people to open up and talk about personal things, but also set some boundaries to keep things professional. Hire a virtual team-building expert to help you ensure that your team-building goals are accomplished. Be creative to help coworkers have fun and have a memorable experience, even if they have to do so from home. Be engaging so the employees actually want to participate in the events and activities. Offer a variety of groups and activities so there is a space for everyone, no matter their interests.

Isolation has been a huge issue during the pandemic, especially in terms of employees missing out on connections with coworkers. Setting up activities and team-building opportunities can help your employees bond better and get to know each other more.

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