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Let’s face it, every facet of our lives has changed as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries and cities across the world are constantly at different stages with strategies and restrictions to keep their populations safe.  International HR management recognise that remote working will be a way of life for the foreseeable future and not just in satellite offices as has traditionally been the case until now.

It is therefore critical to review, build and sustain positive company values, culture and team welfare by being creative, adaptable and learning to do things differently.  The failure to do so with staff working remotely will dilute the sense of belonging to the team.

This in turn can result in feelings of isolation, fatigue, loss of role identity and relational connections within the team.  Loneliness, with a sense of loss can risk mental and physical wellbeing, which should not be ignored.

So, what is Remote Team Building?

Remote Team Building is essentially making the dedicated effort to help your remote workers form and maintain relationships, through good communication and constant support, whilst establishing the recognition of the benefits of a close-knit team with shared goals, working ‘as a team’ and not a collective of isolated individuals.

If a remote team feels a strong level of support and togetherness, they are more likely to work together effectively. Collaboration often leads to more exciting and valuable end results.

For values-driven companies who are committed to developing a community culture with their people, there is a need to invest the time, effort and facilitation required to deliver on a range of in-house, interactive, creative activities that can boost individual and peer morale, belief and bonds.

Ideas to Virtually Build Your Team

By designing our own bespoke approaches we can recreate spontaneous interactions and conversations that would normally take place around the water-cooler or coffee shop. By scheduling coffee and lunch breaks into our day with remote colleagues we can catch up on non-work-related things or share achievements, good news and mutual interests. Lighter conversations with peers can lift the mood, especially if staff are feeling isolated. It can also offer an empathic ‘check in’ on how people are if there is a hunch they are struggling.

Working remotely means we have fewer natural interactions with our peers. The opportunity to learn and exchange information and ideas relevant to the job means for all staff especially, newer staff, interns or juniors, the understanding of not only ‘how things are done’ but ‘on-the -job’ mentoring from those more established is missing.

By working with the Zoom video switched on to re-create an open office space virtually and with a ground rule, ‘no-one is obliged to speak’, but if someone has a work question, they would normally ask over the desk, then just ask. This requires an environment to feel safe to ask.

HR can sometimes fall into a role of nursemaid. By creating a culture where people can take responsibility for their own health, stress levels and wellbeing can reap long-lasting benefits to the individual, team and company. Supporting an ethos of empowerment and accountability on agreed peer goals can energise and be a genuine team game changer.

Recognising what we are achieving, and accomplishing is important! It is also a key element of retaining staff and being part of a ‘winning team’. Look for ways in the day or week to publicly praise, acknowledge individual initiative and achievement. Remember the value and culture of peer praise is as powerful as management praise.

 Employee Relations consultants recommend, by being paired up with people we don’t know so well encourages reaching out beyond our usual ‘inner circle’ and can create relationships and collaborative work between different staff across the company.

Humans learn and connect more freely when they are playing, having fun and relaxed. Even within the corporate virtual environment we can build in positive interactions between staff and teams that offer challenge, learning and interpersonal skills to increase spirited motivation. By hosting company wide events, specialist video conferences and inspiring virtual mingling people can not only boost their morale, increase their hope and feeling of value within the work community.

How we can help

At the end of the day life in the workplace is not always easy and is being made less easy by the changing situation we are all currently living with.

In order to facilitate helpful support with remote staff there needs to be an acknowledgement of allocated time, planned commitment and interpersonal skills to co-design activities that truly engage and can sustain mental wellbeing, communication and connection.

By utilising all available support and drawing on resources such as IRIS Global HR consulting as an extension to the team, will future proof any company and keep them ahead of the pack.

In this challenging period in history, we now have an opportunity to show up as creative leaders.