In the era of remote or hybrid employment, workers are missing out on the office culture experience. While we sit behind our screens, there’s little chance for casual interactions, serendipity, or building relationships and rapport. All these factors contribute to team building and creativity within the workspace but are difficult to replicate in an online environment.
Here are three strategies that just might facilitate these interactions for your remote or hybrid team.
If you are part of a remote workforce, then you are likely familiar with online workspaces, such as Slack, that businesses can use to communicate with and organize their teams. Well, Slack has an extension called Watercooler that was launched by remote networking company Donut that provides another space for co-workers to organize—but rather than facilitating the organization of a new work-related project, Watercooler organizes casual introductions among team members, and offers hundreds of communication starters that don’t have anything to do with work.
Another option is Gather, a browser-based app that simulates a real-world meeting experience through a customizable 2D map. Staff can move their avatars around the imaginary office and interact with their colleagues’ avatars in real-time.
Take it easy
According to Christina Shalley, professor of organizational behavior and human resource management at the Georgia Institute of Technology, business meetings shouldn’t be all business. She recommends starting meetings with casual conversation. “That’s when things come up that you might be surprised by,” she explains.
These kinds of casual conversations should be especially prioritized on days when people are physically in the office, and you may want to consider allocating time between meetings so that small talk can progress into deeper conversations.
Build outside connections
Meeting new people and building casual relationships with acquaintances in other lines of work can help generate solutions and boost professional creativity. Try to promote these relationships by renting a desk at a collaborative workspace (even if you have your own offices already). This will help employees branch out and make connections in other communities.