As the pandemic rages on, managers need to help their remote employees battle feelings of isolation over the long term. Online social activities — from coffee breaks to happy hours — can help, but many people are craving those informal office interactions that stimulate creativity and encourage collaboration.
One thing you can do is set up a remote coworking space — basically, a videoconference at an agreed-up time where people can simply work quietly in each other’s virtual presence. This allows team members to informally chat, share ideas, and spontaneously ask questions, the same way they would in the office.
If you’re managing a hybrid team, you can also set up a “hotwall,” a large monitor and camera placed in a busy location in the office, where remote workers can drop by to “visit” with their in-office colleagues. Experiment with turning it on for a fixed period of time each day, and see how people like it.
Finally, establish a weekly, open office hour, without an agenda, and invite your entire team to ask questions and check in. These techniques, which aren’t hard to implement, can allow for the spontaneous and unstructured conversations that many of us are missing these days.