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Inside The Office Leadership Management

Remote Work Morale: Keeping the Virtual Water Cooler Going

You want your remote team to be productive, but you also want them to be happy, healthy and fulfilled. More than a year into the pandemic, your remote workers may be feeling disconnected from one another. In an earlier post, I talked about creating a virtual water cooler for your remote employees, so they get a chance to interact with you and each other about something other than work.

Fostering camaraderie among your remote team

When you worked in an office every day, you worked hard, but you still took time to ask if your coworker’s baby still had an ear infection, if your manager’s in-laws had arrived, or whether your cubicle neighbor had finished binge-watching Game of Thrones yet so you could talk about it — finally. With folks working at home and starved for human interaction, figuring out a way to revive your team members’ bonds with one another is a worthwhile endeavor.

Along with a daily work-related meeting which can include polite chit-chat, sharing pet pictures and giving video office tours, come up with a question of the day. It could be something as simple as, “What is your favorite animal and why?” Go around the virtual office and ask each person. The answers might be fun. You might find out Rich loves pangolins because they roll up in a cute armored ball when startled; Caroline has a thing for marmosets; and Ed has a sloth calendar in his home office.

Ask and answer

This exercise doesn’t have to last long, but it can make a huge difference in each employee’s day. To keep it short and sweet, end Monday’s meeting with Tuesday’s question to cut down on deliberation time. If your team is large, choose a few folks each day and hear about them. If you need help to think of ideas, we have a few examples.

  • What is your favorite animal?
  • How about your favorite food?
  • Which season is your favorite and why?
  • What are your desert island tunes? (three songs you could listen to over and over again for the rest of time)
  • And your desert island movies?
  • If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
  • What is your dream vacation?
  • Tell a funny story from your childhood.

It may seem like a small thing, but, as Arthur Conan Doyle once said, “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”

To learn more about managing a remote workforce, check out The Remote Nation Institute.

About the author

Mari Anne Snow

Mari Anne Snow is a business expert, specializing in the design and implementation of remote work, dispersed or virtual team programs, and custom people-to-people skills training for remote leaders. She is a versatile, energetic and highly experienced business executive with the capacity to quickly assess any situation, diagnose immediate and long term needs, and provide practical leadership and immediate, measurable results.

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