With our virtual work from home workforce, it is so essential to connect with one another.
What I can tell you is that the strongest leading indicator to ensure that recognition happens is to reach out to people you work with and truly connect with them. It’s through these informal connections that you will discover the great things that they do. From there the sky is the limit as to the number of opportunities you will have for giving recognition.
But one thing I still get asked is how are you supposed to reach out in order to recognize peers and direct reports more frequently? There are only so many ways to do this.
Connecting needs to become a regular part of the way we work virtually. And there are also some fun ways to make connections. Pick a number from the suggestions below and try out one of these ideas in the coming week.
Ideas for Connecting With Peers and Direct Reports
- Consider using Slack, which is a channel-based messaging platform popular with tech companies, start-ups, and online communities. It is a messaging, collaboration, and communication tool that allows people to work together and stay connected.
- Skype for Business is another tool used by more traditional organizations and lets you connect with up to 250 people through online meetings, provides enterprise-grade security, allows you to manage employee accounts, and integrates into your Office apps.
- Microsoft Teams is a great way to chat and send quick messages, collaborate on projects, and set up video conferencing calls and meetings. I had a short, spontaneous meeting with a colleague today, and we did screen share and I explained the steps in a document I had emailed rather than going back and forth with just text in emails.
- WhatsApp is a freeware, another one of the many methods to connect through text messaging, voice messaging, and make voice and video calls. You can also share images, documents and other media.
- Then there is the ubiquitous Zoom where you can set up regular meeting times. Schedule weekly or as needed, for no more that 30-minutes to visually connect, and learn what both of you are working on. Make this a two-way connection where both of you share your challenges and successes and where you need help right now.
- Pick up the phone and call a colleague. Don’t be afraid to make a call, even if it is on their mobile phone. People really appreciate when you reach out to touch someone through phone conversations.
- Coffee Chats. You can’t get together in the break room to hang out or meet someone at the water cooler, but you can schedule the same time for a virtual meet up for a drink and chat each day. They always invite the team or group to pop in at the scheduled time through whatever channel works best for everyone. This is just if people want to and are available. No pressure.
- Ask a Question of the Week to create fun and engagement with one another. You can ask anything that helps with getting to know people better, like knowing people’s favorite food, drink, holiday, or positive work memory. Make these opportunities to ask a question fun or work related and then discover more about one another.
- Encourage the creation of groups chats through your collaboration tool for work related messages and just because. Fun connections can also exist through social media channels for more personal sharing and messaging.
- Why not host a virtual lunch? Create a traditional potluck like theme and bring your dish for your lunch. Have each attendee bring, show, and talk about their food item. If it involves a recipe, the requirement is to post the recipe in the organization messaging tool or email it out to the rest of the group.
- Get physical even though virtual in a variety of exchanges. This is where the mail comes in handy to send things to others like doing a cookie exchange. If you work geographically remote from one another, buy a local postcard and send a positive greeting to a peer on some rotational basis.
- Create team or organization wide contests. We did this for a wellness campaign where we teamed up in groups of four and we earned points for drinking so much water, eating nutritiously, exercising, and doing mindfulness practices every day for a month. They awarded prizes to the winning teams. It was good to connect with people you didn’t know.
- Send a personal note with a treat out to each of your employees. Write a personalized message in your note giving praise or compliments for the work they are doing. Try to find out their favorite treat to send them by connecting with team members, friends, or partners at home.
- Play a game virtually with one or more people. These days you can lay virtual Scrabble or chess together. You’ll also find brilliant games you can play with everyone on their smartphones like Psych, a game app where you try to outwit your teammates by making up fake answers to real trivia questions.
- Share your favorite podcast and episode. With everyone having such eclectic interests, it can be a unique exercise to learn about different podcasts that everyone listens to. Each person should give their review why they enjoy their podcast and give a recommended episode for everyone to check out.
- How about a video party together using Teleparty? Teleparty, formerly Netflix Party, is a novel way to watch TV with your work friends online. Teleparty synchronizes video playback so you can watch together, pause on one another, and add a group chat feature to video platforms like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and HBO.
Recognition Reflection: How will you better connect with your remote employees so you’ll know more about them to recognize?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.