Working From a Distance: 4 Tips To Feel Together When You Can’t Be

By Robert Half on April 2, 2020 at 5:30pm

By Dawn Fay

Staying together as a team during challenging times is, to put it bluntly, challenging. Many people are fortunate to have the opportunity to work remotely – and with the emergence of technology it can be a tremendous asset. Over the years, we’ve developed and implemented technologies at Robert Half that allow us to access our company’s network, teleconference with clients and coworkers, and essentially operate as business-as-usual. However, we all crave the human element. We simply miss each other.

As a leader, this is something that must be top of mind. While it might not be something that shows up on paper, positive interaction and employee morale can have a direct impact on the bottom line. So how do we promote a sense of togetherness while living in a time when we’re encouraged to stay apart?

Here are a few tactics that might help:

1. Use technology to see a familiar face

A Zoom or Skype group get-together can’t replace the 10-minute coffee break or walk with your coworkers, but it is important to try. This isn’t a proclamation that you should host work-related meetings on these platforms. That goes without saying. Use the technology to also supplement the water-cooler talk – have a recap session of a popular show you and your work friends watch together or share a few minutes chatting over morning coffee. As hard as it can be, try to replace those brief moments in the office when you connect with your colleagues.

2. Don’t just talk, act

I’ve come across many of my teams not only hosting team meetings and coffee breaks but using technology to network and even stay active. One of my teams hosted a virtual happy hour – an event for clients and colleagues to connect and discuss business-related items. Another team hosted an internal yoga session done via Skype. It is truly incredible how collaborative and creative our teams can be when faced with adversity! While more difficult to organize, these types of events are what can help promote a positive work culture in trying times.

3. Recognize people often

For the time being, we are all separated and unable to do the old swing-by-the-cubicle to praise someone for a job well done. While recognition might not be top of mind, it needs to be kept in mind. Right now, employees are dealing with unfamiliar circumstances but that shouldn’t stop managers from recognizing their efforts. Instead of a physical get-together, send a team-wide email or virtual recognition card. Or perhaps a gift card to their favorite take-out restaurant. While it might seem like a small token, these kinds of recognition tactics can galvanize a team and give everyone some sense of normalcy when business is different.

4. Acknowledge the chaos

These are stressful times for everyone, and that needs to be understood by management. Acknowledge that your teams are faced with challenges and distractions, both at work and at home. Where most of our teams are working remote, we started to coin the phrase and hashtag #HalferHelpers. These helpers are the children, pets, spouses, roommates and anyone else we’ve become accustomed to seeing and hearing from during video chats and conference calls. While not what we’re used to, it has been fun to see a different side of my team members and let them know that it is okay for things to be a little chaotic right now. Seeing all of the “helpers” has become a bright spot in my day!

Dawn Fay joined Robert Half in 1996 as a staffing manager. She is now a senior district president for Robert Half based in New York City.

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