If you’ve suddenly gone from seeing your team in the office on a daily basis to having to wait for them to appear online, then adjusting to a new sense of team togetherness can be just one more challenge to add to the list.

When life is thrown into chaos and you're working from home, it can be easy to become task-focused and to forget that in the office environment there is so much that happens in the little interactions at the start of the day, in the kitchen as coffee is made and as you wrap up a meeting.

Working remotely means that you need to be deliberate in creating the opportunity for these same conversations to take place. One way that has worked in the past is to have a frequent (it doesn’t need to be daily) virtual coffee catch-up.

No-agenda meetings aren’t something that we’d normally advocate, and so it is important to remember that just because it is in the diary, it doesn’t automatically mean it is a meeting! However having structure and a pattern can be helpful, so here’s a TEAMS suggestion:

Thank you

The little things will go unnoticed because you won’t see them happening in the same way as when you share the same physical space. There is a need to be deliberate in spotting them and then saying thank you. Find a reason to say thank you to someone (or everyone!) with something specific at the start.

Emoji emotions

We all express ourselves differently and it can be surprising to find that some people who are confident face to face suddenly struggle to find words when on a video call. There is a huge focus on mental health and even more so now, so this is about having space for people to say I’m not okay.

It doesn’t matter whether this space is used or not, but for people to know it’s okay to not be okay is a huge help. Keep it light by using emojis if that works for your team, but if not, then just ask how people are feeling today. Remember yours may be the first grown-up conversation that they’ve had for the day!

Achievement and actions

We all start with good intentions and then wonder what happened to them. By taking a moment to look back on the previous day and set a goal for today can be a huge help. 

As a leader of a team, be prepared to be honest about what you may have intended to do and didn’t get accomplished; this isn’t about blame, it’s about working out who needs support and how we succeed together. Research shows that if we make a commitment to an action in front of others, we’re more likely to do it, so state your goals to each other - and remember to follow up!

Messages

There is a rhythm of business to keep alive. This is the opportunity to give the bigger picture, share key things happening elsewhere and what’s going on in other parts of the organisation. Don’t let it become a heads-down, "stuck in the detail of your bit of work at the expenses of everything else" situation.

Support

Wrapping up is just as important as how we start, and it’s a good way to check that the team knows what they need to do and if they have everything they need to get it done. Again, we’re creating the space for people to ask for help rather than feeling like they need to put a brave face on. 

As a leader, you will sometimes need to set the example. Be clear and ask for help: “I need your help doing…” and allow others to make their requests, but don’t always be the one to offer the solution.

We hope you find this a help in keeping your team working well through these changing times, and would love to hear how you’re getting on.

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