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    How to Keep Your Team Connected While They Work from Home

    Many people forced to work from home by the pandemic may find it difficult to be on their own – maybe for the first time. It is very easy to lose contact with “the outside world”. For some people, especially those who feed off the hustle and bustle of a busy office environment, this kind of isolation can have serious effects on their work productivity and their mental health. So staying connected is as important as hitting a deadline. Fortunately, today’s technology, paired with a bit of your creativity, makes it pretty easy to do. They say it takes a village to raise a child. I guess it takes an online community to get us through a pandemic. Here are 12 ways to keep your team connected with that community during this difficult time, and maybe have a little fun doing it.:
    1. Find the online collaboration platform that works for you
      There are lots to choose from. Play around with them a bit to see which one is right for your team. Here are some popular platforms worth looking at, the top5 as rated by techradar.com:
      Microsoft 365
    2. Proactively schedule one on one time with your direct reports
      Some remote workers feel they are bothering managers when they ask for time with them. And they don’t want to be “out of sight out of mind.” Scheduling regular, weekly one on one time solves these problems, keeps everyone in the loop, and makes sure you and your employees are on the same page. Another way to keep in regular contact is to ask for an end of the week update.
    3. Schedule a weekly, online team meeting
      An opportunity to give company updates, and a way for everyone to see the faces behind the emails and texts.
    4. Look each other in the eye
      Use fewer emails and more face time. It gets rid of the need to interpret non-verbal communication and creates a much stronger connection.
    5. Assign team members an accountability partner
      Understand it can be very difficult for your staff to maintain motivation when they’re working alone from home. There are so many distractions and, without you telling them what needs to get done and when, it can be difficult for them even to get out of bed. So suggest team members find themselves an accountability partner. It could be a co-worker but doesn’t have to be. Could be a friend who is also working from home. Schedule regular times to meet – daily, every other day, whatever makes sense – and go over assignments that need to be completed and by when, then check on each other to make sure proper progress is being made.
    6. Turn commute time into coffee time
      Take that time you used to be stuck in traffic or on an overcrowded bus and have a virtual coffee with an office mate. Maybe someone you used to start your day with at the office, or this could be the time to set daily schedules with your accountability partner.
    1. Allow breaks for colleagues to play online games
      Nothing dark or that gets people too competitive. Scrabble? Studies show that when colleagues take part in non-work related endeavours together, productivity increases.
    2. Stay fit together
      Schedule a daily online workout session for the team. It could be yoga, chair stretching or a guided meditation to get everyone relaxed and recharged.
    3. Stay connected to the outside world
      It’s easy to lose touch with what’s going outside your four walls when you never step outside them. Find a favourite news source or podcast to make sure you stay up on, connected to, current events.
    4. Institute company contests
      There are the old standbys like “Ugliest Christmas Sweater” and “Best Halloween Costume” but they could be anything. “Funniest Coffee Mug”, “Best Pet Picture”. Your imagination is the limit.
    5. Virtual Lunchtime
      Really just another way to stay connected and chat with co-workers. But amateur chefs can also use it as a way to show off their culinary skills. Invite staff from all departments that may not normally have a chance to get together.
    6. Ask a question of the week
      Post a random question once a week. Make them quick and easy: What’s your favourite sport? Look for longer answers: What’s your favourite movie and why? Or make them silly: What 3 superheroes would you like to have lunch with? You’ll get some interesting answers and learn a lot about your team in the process. The benefit here is that everybody doesn’t have to be online at the same time for this to work. People can pop in and answer whenever it’s convenient, and read through the responses when they need a quick and uplifting break.
    Working remotely doesn’t have to mean working alone. It’s important that you create an environment where you and your employees can stay connected while working from home.
    A few intentional and thoughtful gestures can go a long way toward making everyone feel like a part of the team—no matter where they are.

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