Connecting Remotely

I would consider myself an extroverted introvert. I love socializing, but I love being home even more. In fact, when we began sheltering in place I was all too happy to be working from home. Like many, I found the extra time in my day allowed me to be productive in new ways. I’ve even picked up some habits and hobbies I always wanted to simply because I feel I have more time. However, even though my true nature is that of an introvert, my heart loves to be extroverted and is in desperate need of socialization.

Clearly, the current environment is making that hard to accomplish. Most have quickly jumped on board with virtual meetings and phone calls, but even that can become tiring. Seeing the miniature faces of my team side by side on my laptop screen was nice at first, but now I just miss them and I want to engage with them like I did before. Many of my friends and colleagues have expressed similar feelings and it only worsens the longer we are forced to be separated. So, we must become even more creative in our ways of staying connected.

I came across a LinkedIn post from TED Conferences. The speakers were discussing exactly that: how to stay connected with your team while working remotely. They mentioned a few key ideas that seem to have gained in popularity – such as taking a greater interest in each other’s personal lives – but also offered two other ideas to help stay engaged.

  1. Start each meeting with an ice breaker – this will help build trust and strengthen dialogue. Telling a silly story forces people to be somewhat vulnerable. If they can open up and share something about themselves then they will be more likely to engage in stronger dialogue and propose off the wall ideas they would not have otherwise felt comfortable suggesting. This is a great tip for any type of meeting, but with virtual meetings taking teams by storm it can be especially hard to be vulnerable and engaged in front of a computer screen.
  2. Align your work schedules – engagement can be difficult if you are blasting off an idea in to the unknown realms of the internet. Knowing someone is on the other side of your email can help get the creative juices flowing and encourage dialogue similar to being in person. This can be difficult when working with colleagues overseas or even team members who work from home. The time difference or distractions in the home can make it difficult to carve out scheduled time to be online. If you can make it happen for even 30 minutes, I think you’ll see just how much it can help you stay connected.

While neither of these ideas cure the fatigue that comes with constant virtual meetings, they can help you connect with your team just a little bit more. Here at Morrison we have “MoCo Trivia” at the end of every weekly meeting, and have moved our “MoCo Meals” to virtually connecting with our own take out orders. While I miss seeing my team every day, I am grateful for the technology that allows me to continue connecting with them while remaining safely sheltered in place. What ways can you implement this in your new workspace norm?

About the Author 

+Michelle Genova is the Business and Marketing Coordinator at Morrison, providing business valuations, business planning (including budgeting, cash flow forecasting, and strategic planning), feasibility studies, recruitment, interim executive CFO services, competitive grant writing and special projects that don't fit into any conventional category. You can contact Michelle directly at mgenova@morrisonco.net or via telephone at 530-893-4764 ext. 209.

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