Moving from working in a bustling office to a quiet space at home can be quite an adjustment. No more chats over tea, quick lunches with colleagues and friends or unexpectedly running into familiar faces. The decreased social contact can give you the “blues” if you don’t actively work to keep in touch with co-workers and friends. At Simpson Dean, we believe working remotely need not be an isolated, lonely, and quiet experience. Here are a few ways to make the experience more social and less stressful.
Working Remotely does have to mean not seeing anyone
Just because you don’t work in the same office doesn’t mean you should only occasionally interact with your colleagues or superiors. There are several ways to keep up company culture, build strong relationships and make everyone feel like a part of the company. One of the best ways is to schedule regular video calls with your colleagues, instead of just sending an email or IM.
Emails and IMs can be very impersonal, and their tone can be easily misunderstood. If you start your day with a quick video call with your team, you will know how everyone is doing, see in what kind of mood they are and know what they are busy with. You will then know that a brief, concise email is not someone being brusque, but perhaps just too busy for extended pleasantries.
Many people also communicate an idea better verbally than in writing. If you need feedback or something explained, rather give the relevant person a call. They will be able to explain it much faster, and in more detail, than via email or IM and you will be able to ask pertinent questions and receive answers much faster.
It is important to still practice good etiquette during video calls, even if you are alone at home. Dress neatly and appropriately for your audience. Don’t lounge on bed or the sofa, sit at a table or desk. Also take note of your backdrop (what your colleagues will be seeing behind you on the screen). Some video conferencing apps and services offer you virtual backdrops to make your setting look more professional.
You can still socialise with your team working remotely
It is important to build strong relationships even between remote working groups. Colleagues that get along well tend to work better together and go the extra mile to assist each other. A sense of belonging also helps cultivate loyalty to the company and motivates employees to be more productive and dedicated. Make sure to schedule regular teambuilding activities (during and after work hours) that promote social interaction between employees.
· Have a drink and play a game together
Arrange a “coffee date” or post-workday drinks with everyone and play an online game together. You can do this via the internet or even mobile apps. There are a range of popular games like Pictionary, Uno, and Scrabble that you can play online or via apps. You can even try out games where you can create a guild and work as a team to complete tasks and defeat competitors.
· Video social team night quiz
Test your team’s knowledge with your own take on a pub quiz. Divide the group into teams or play individually. Decide on your topic and create your list of questions. It can be a general knowledge quiz or something specific relating to your industry. You can even make it personal and get team members to identify each other’s favourite sayings, snacks, drinks, habits, and quirks.
· Silly hat day
As a fun, workday activity, designate a specific day where the team needs to wear a silly hat. They can wear an existing hat or create their own wacky headwear. You can plan a video conference and then have the team or supervisors vote on the silliest hat and best homemade hat. Winners can receive a small prize like a voucher for a meal or a hamper with delicious treats. If hats don’t appeal to you, why not do the same with socks or theme outfits? Have employees dress like a superhero, the career they wanted to follow when they were children or even their favourite character from TV or books.
Always schedule down-time for yourself
People who work from home have a harder time switching off. If you hear the email or IM tone or see the notification after working hours, it’s hard to ignore it. Not giving yourself downtime makes you stress more and can affect your focus during working hours. You need to maintain a good work-life balance. Let colleagues know that you won’t be answering emails or messages after hours, unless it’s an absolute emergency. To avoid the temptation of falling back into work, switch off your computer or close your laptop.
Next, you should dedicate some time to a hobby or something that will make you relax and take your mind off the stresses of work. Schedule time for a hobby like baking, cycling, yoga, knitting or reading or enjoy activities away from your home office like going to the gym, joining art classes, or going dancing. You can also spend some time with your family, just chatting over tea, going for a walk, or running errands together.
Want to find out more about the benefits of working remotely? Visit our blog for a range of interesting and informative articles.