Now, we’ve got the wheels in motion for our remote work routine, and it’s the norm to log on from the comfort of our own home. For many of us, going back to the office full-time and spending hours commuting is enough to make your stomach churn.
So, here we are, years later, and we hope that your remote work culture at your place of employment is thriving. And if it’s not, well… that might be on you.
Here are 15 ways to get the most out of your remote company culture as an employee.
Day-to-day tips to stay connected while working remotely
Staying connected to your team members involves some personal accountability and effort.
You can’t just sit in front of your computer all day and hope that somehow, magically, you’ll feel connected to your colleagues.
Here are some ways you can get (and stay) connected while working remotely in your day-to-day:
1. Get involved with virtual activities
This might seem like an obvious place to start, but it can be so easy to push those virtual team-building activities to the bottom of the priority list.
We know that sometimes they can clash with other meetings or happen after work, but attending them can help you feel more connected with your co-workers. After all, they’re designed to get everyone together and feel like a team.
Just because you’re not physically together, there’s no reason you can’t get together virtually!
2. Embrace the meeting small talk
We all know how awkward small talk can be if you’re the first person in a virtual meeting. You might even be one of those people that wait until there are at least two or three people in the meeting before you join… guilty.
In these cases, make a conscious effort to lead these initial conversations with the goal of making everyone in the video call feel comfortable.
Need some conversation starters? Think about these next time you’re the first one in a virtual meeting to help ease the dreaded small talk anxiety.
- How was your weekend?
- I saw that you were working on X project. How is it going?
- I saw you posted X photo of your pet on the company channel; what’s their name and how old are they?
- How is your day looking so far?
- Do you have any plans for the weekend?
- Have you been watching any TV shows recently? I just watched X and definitely recommend/do not recommend
Read more: Communication tools for remote teams
3. Participate in a virtual coffee break
We all loved our mid-morning coffees when we were living our office life, and there’s no reason you can’t take them remotely. If you had a coffee buddy, pencil in a 15 minutes coffee break in your calendar once a fortnight and form meaningful relationships over a freshly brewed cup of joe.
No coffee buddy? No worries. Talk to your people and culture team about setting these up. If you’re using Slack, suggest an app called Donut. This will help you get the most out of your remote work culture and give you those in-office vibes right from the comfort of your own home.
Read more: Wellness tips for WFH
4. Actively reward and recognise your co-workers
There’s nothing that gives you that warm and fuzzy feeling like being rewarded and recognised by your co-workers. In the virtual workplace, more often than not, it’s the smallest gesture that can have the biggest impact.
Shouting out your fellow team member and saying thanks for their great work in a meeting can set the tone and improve your professional relationships.
Or even saying thanks in your company communication feed can help spread those positive vibes. And it encourages your colleagues to do the same when you’ve been doing great work.
Do you fall into the category of employees who didn’t get any recognition in the last 12 months? We know it can leave you feeling a bit deflated, especially if you feel like you deserved something…
Use this opportunity to create a culture of recognition and get the good and appreciative vibes flowing!
5. Be mindful of having your camera turned on
While the thought of having your camera on during a meeting can seem like a chore, it can help you feel more connected to your remote team.
If you are someone who multitasks on work calls, having your camera on will help you feel more present and minimise the risk of wandering to the fridge, the pool and even for a nap…
This leads us to our next point…
6. Be present for your morning meetings
There are two types of people when it comes to remote work.
The early birds. The ones who wake up at the crack of dawn, get in some exercise, grab a coffee from the local coffee shop, have a shower, get the kids ready and log on feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead of them.
And then we have the not-so-early-birds.
Rolling out of bed five minutes before your first meeting, having your camera off while you quickly make a cup of coffee and flick through your calendar.
While we all long to be like those aspirational early birds, the reality is that many of us fall into the not-so-early-bird category.
We’re definitely not implying that you need to become an early riser. But, it might be worth waking up 15 minutes earlier to brush your teeth, wash your face and prepare for your 8.30 am meeting.
Trust us, you’ll be more approachable, and you might even have time to make your morning coffee or lead the pre-meeting small talk.
7. Open and read those company updates
Company updates and emails might not seem fun, but trust us – you want to open (and actually read) them. When you’re in the know of what’s going on in your business, you’ll feel more supported in your role.
It’s also a great way to bring up any issues or improvements to what’s being said or done. Just imagine if you missed out on company events or celebrations because you didn’t read the memo or RSVP by the due date.
So, if the thought of missing free food at a company event elevates your heart rate, it’s time to start reading those emails so you can be informed – and get involved.
Fun ways to connect with coworkers virtually
By staying present and getting involved with your coworkers, you are now on the path to virtually connecting with your coworkers in a way that builds relationships, not just work acquaintances.
If you’re looking for some fun ideas to get the ball rolling, we’ve got you covered.
Here are a few suggestions:
8. ‘Dress up’ company or team meetings
To make things a little more fun, why don’t you add a theme to your remote team meetings or All-Hands? At Employment Hero, we have a different theme each week and offer prizes for best dressed.
It gives our virtual teams something to look forward to at the end of the week and also provides a lot of laughs!
Some ideas you could use:
- Favourite sports team
- Fancy dress
- Bring your favourite cocktail
- Pyjama party
- Hat parade
- Best cocktail competition
The Winner of our best sporting team competition – Esther in her water polo gear!
9. Daily virtual chit-chats
Transitioning from socialising with your team every day to being at home alone can be a shock to the system. During times like this, it’s important not to underestimate the power of simply having a chat with your co-workers.
At Employment Hero, we have a #chitchat Slack channel, and every day at 10 am, 12 pm and 5 pm there is the option for anyone in the company to join the Zoom call and chat about anything they wish.
It’s a great way to stay social and also a nice thing for those who are living alone and experience remoteliness.
Employment Hero team on a Zoom video call
Read more: How to improve remote employee engagement
10. Cutest pet photo competitions
At Employment Hero, we’re a bunch of animal lovers. Between our #animalsbeingcute Slack channel and Chief Pupper Officers, there’s no shortage of adorable animals being shared.
If your workplace is the same as ours, why not hold the cutest pet competition? It’s a great way for remote teams to learn more about each other’s furry friends whilst giving your team warmth and fuzzies.
Lily’s entry in the Employment Hero cutest pet competition
11. Introduce your family and partner to the team
Chances are you’ve heard all about your colleagues’ family in the office, so it makes sense to introduce them to your team online! Your colleagues will be able to put a face to the name, and it’s a fun activity for your team to get involved with.
We know that some people may want to keep their home life separated from their work life, so this one is definitely optional.
12. Give a tour of your house
Similar to the above activity, we know that this won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. However, for those that do want to get involved, it’s a great way to learn more about your teammates.
Inviting them into your room or home is a great way to learn more about them and recognise common interests between your team members.
13. Netflix streaming lunch party
Hosting a Netflix streaming lunch party is a great way to keep up to date with the latest movies and shows whilst adding a bit of fun to your work life. With a Netflix streaming party, you can add participants and all chat together to discuss what’s happening.
You could set one up for each lunchtime based on a poll for preferences and allow anyone to drop in whenever they see something they’d like to watch.
It’s also a great way to stop that one person who always talks throughout the entire movie…
14. Workspace goals competition
With everyone now getting into the swing of things working from home and it now being said that we’re going to be staying home for a long while to come, why not ask your team to share their workspaces with the team?
It’s a great opportunity to get some inspiration from one another and can really help your team stay on track when they’ve got a workplace they’re happy with. It even helps to reduce stress and leads to an improvement in productivity.
Julia’s zen setup
15. Virtual cooking class
During these times of isolation, it’s no secret that everyone has a newly found passion for cooking. Whether that’s baking or making a gourmet feast, why not ask some of your most keen foodies to share a cooking demonstration?
Prior to starting the cooking class, give your team the list of ingredients, the recipe and the opportunity to follow along. For those who’d rather just watch from the sidelines, invite them to pull up a chair with a glass of wine or soft drink.
Looking for more remote work insights?
If you’re looking for more to support remote employees and help foster better remote relationships, we’ve put together a resource hub to help you.
It contains helpful information about setting up your team for remote working, how you can support your team and much more.