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Staying Connected

Work closely with your team to ensure continued engagement and that the team feels connected to each other, you and the mission of the department.

INDIVIDUAL EMPLOYEE MEETINGS

Kick Off to Working Virtually Meeting

This is an opportunity to talk with your employee to help them feel comfortable during this unique time. Below are a few items you may want to consider during this initial meeting.

  • Understand if the employee has have ever worked in a virtual environment
  • What does the employee see as possible challenges?
  • Review the best ways to communicate during the day so that both of you feel connected
  • Are they comfortable utilizing the needed technology?
  • This is a time for the employee to learn new skills that will help improve their performance. Ask the employee to review the various courses in LinkedIn Learning and share with you in your next meeting skills they want to learn (consider creating a learning plan)

Daily Touch Base

Keep it short and sweet! A touch base can be as simple as a quick Skype message, text or email. It does not need to be formal. People will appreciate the quick touch base.

Weekly, Bi-Weekly or Monthly One-on-one Meetings

It is important to continue the standing one-on-one meetings you have with your team members. Consistency is important during this time as it provides a sense of normalcy during these challenging times

TEAM MEETINGS

Team Huddles

These are quick high-level meetings to gather the team

  • Typically, short meetings scheduled throughout the week to make sure everyone is aligned
  • How often to schedule will depend on the needs of the team. If in a time of consistent change, daily may be needed. If mainly a time to stay connected for quick updates, possibly two to three times a week may be needed

Standard Team Meetings

Maintaining your normal weekly or bi-weekly meetings will be important in helping things feel as normal as possible for your team. Things to consider discussing:

  • General department updates. Do not forget that people often find out about meetings, general updates or new things happening in the department just by being in the office. Nothing is too small, people want to hear what is happening
  • Have the team go around and discuss something good/new happening professionally or personally to break the ice
  • Ask the team for their suggestions on possible continuous improvement projects. This allows you to assign groups of people to work together on a unified goal
  • Ask a team member to do research on a topic and share information that would be of interest to the team and ask them to share with the group

Engagement Touchbase

Schedule time to just have fun! When things are stressful, having something fun to do as a team will be a nice escape from stress

    • Virtual Tea Time: A quick conference call where employees will sit around (preferably with coffee or tea) in a relaxed environment to just chat about anything.
    • Weekly Children or Pet sharing chain: Very simple email sent to those on your team with a fun photo of you and your children/pets and invite others to share.
    • DIY Craft Challenge: 30-minute surprise activity you can play with your team. Have everyone build anything from materials in their general area and then share during video chat or by email.
    • Recipe Roundup: Have your team share a favorite recipe with the group. If someone in the group makes it, they can share pictures and leave a nice review and share with the team.

For more great ideas check out the Engagement Section!

Communication Best Practices

WHAT TOOLS SHOULD I USE

  • There are several tools to aid in communication opportunities such as email,phone, text messaging, instant messaging, video conferences, and document sharing.
  • Ensure that all remote employees have the same programs downloaded and are capable and trained of using them all effectively. Refer to Technology section for additional information.

KEEP IT PREDICTABLE & CONSISTENT

To prevent remote anxiety, clarify how and when information will be communicated. You might be asking yourself, “When do we use instant messaging? Why do we write emails? At what point do we pick up the phone?”

E-mails are good for sending information,but not for collaboration.

Text/Instant Messaging is for immediate action.

 

Call directly if the topic requires clarity and sensitivity, or benefits from an energetic exchange of ideas.

Video conferencing is used to help people stay connected; there is no replacement for face-to-face interaction. This will help your team feel more connected to colleagues in a more intentional, human way.

 

Use a check-in or reporting template to keep consistency across the team.

  • Example: 5-15 Report - Each week, everyone on a team spends 15minutes writing feedback in a templated report sent to the manager. The manager takes five minutes to read and respond to each report, and 15minutes to collate their own feedback for their manager.

Download the 5-15 Report

HAVE A CLEAR MESSAGE

Context:

When you are communicating digitally, provide enough context to make sure your message is known. When only responding “Yes” to a question or giving little information, the lack of elaborating might make the person feel you do not care about the issue or lead them to not care about the issue you brought up.

Not Concise

So, I was thinking that maybe, we could try meeting at twelve noon instead of 5:00pm for our weekly meetings. I plan on working from home in the afternoon and I was thinking that might be easier. What do you think?

Concise

I'd like to begin working from home in the afternoon from now on. Are you okay with changing our weekly meeting time from 5pm to 12pm?

CONTINUE CASUAL COMMUNICATION HABITS

If you normally catch up with colleagues in person before a big meeting, do the same before dialing in to a group conference call when everyone is remote. If you normally chat with your admin assistant first thing in the morning, do the same remotely by instant messaging. Even when at home, you should confirm receipt of messages and check in with people when you start your day and end your day. Try to follow the same rituals and habits to maintain relationships and a sense of normalcy.

BE MINDFUL OF DIFFERENT HOME SITUATIONS

Remind the team that everyone’s situation is different. Encourage each person to take a minute to show the team his or her home workspace and share some personal context (e.g., barking dogs, children running around, sharing a workspace with a roommate, being isolated and alone, etc.). This context can help others be more sensitive to each other’s constraints and lessen the ambiguity about what it means to work in a remote team, as well as break down biases and assumptions.

KEEP COMMUNICATION POSITIVE

AvoidUse Instead
Must Needs to
Required Strongly recommend
I’m forced to I choose to
That will never work Let’s look at our alternatives
We will not be able to… We will be able to once…
That’s not my problem I think you should talk to … instead
There’s nothing I can do about that I’m a bit stuck, can you help me find other options?
You should have... That didn’t work - here is what I recommend for next time...
I haven’t had time I will be able to get this to you by...
I assumed that... Could you clarify for me please?
Stuck at home Safe at home