How to Connect with Your Remote Team and Build Culture

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“In this trying time…”

If you feel like the world’s turned on its head, you’re not alone. With the sudden and overwhelming switch to remote work, many of us are finding ourselves trying to recreate the professional and social environment of our jobs from our homes.

From awkward Zoom calls with entire teams to the sudden absence of water cooler talk, participating in the workplace culture now feels like a job in itself. This transition can be different levels of jarring depending on how remote-friendly your company is, but there’s no doubt some of us are bravely entering the remote world for the very first time.

There are lots of great resources out there on managing the logistics of remote work: running meetings, holding 1:1s, getting dressed, setting up your home office, and creating boundaries between work and home. At Bonusly, we spend a lot of time thinking about building a culture of appreciation and gratitude.

Although most of our colleagues work from home one or two days a week, Bonusly made the jump to a fully remote workforce two weeks ago. Informed by our own experience, I wanted to share some thoughts on how gratitude and recognition can help your remote team stay connected and engaged.

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A lonely world

Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2019 found that 19% of remote workers report loneliness as their biggest work struggle. And, if you’re used to working in an office most of the time, the problem might be exacerbated. Loneliness is problematic for a few different reasons:

  • Burnout: a common and well-documented trap of remote work is longer hours, caused by the frail boundary between work life and home life. Being disconnected from your coworkers might hamper your expectations around productivity and availability, leading you to work unsustainable hours.
  • Disconnect: a recent study found a link between loneliness and decreased performance at work, a disconnect caused by a lack of information sharing and personal investment. Detachment from social connections and organizational goals leads to unhappier employees.
  • Loss of creativity: working remotely eliminates the unplanned interactions that happen when you bump into your coworkers in the office kitchen, hallways, or at the proverbial water cooler. As a result, lots of informal knowledge sharing and serendipitous idea generation dissipates without an intentional effort to connect with your colleagues.
  • Mental health: humans are social beings, and lack of social interaction has tangible downsides. Isolation has been repeatedly linked to poor mental health and higher morbidity and mortality rates. We spend a lot of our time at work—let’s make sure it’s not isolated time.

The first thing to realize is about loneliness: you’re not alone. Even experienced remote workers feel lonely without intentional interactions, first-time remote employees need to strive extra hard to create meaningful connections online. In the next section, we’ll explore some specific ways to go about this.

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Staying connected: The basics

Let’s establish some ground rules for remote communication, both social and professional:

  1. Overcommunicate
    With so much information conveyed by tone and body language (93%, according to a commonly-cited UCLA study), it’s essential that you overcommunicate your ideas when writing or even over video chat. State your assumptions, cite your sources, and be clear about your desired outcomes. Another helpful technique to refer to is BLUF (bottom line up front), where you lead with the conclusion in order to make your intentions clear. Continue reading here…

Original: Bonusly Blog

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