Humans are born with the innate desire to develop relationships and create connections with other people. The overwhelming majority of these connections have been formed and solidified through in-person gatherings and communications. This extends from personal life to the professional world as well.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, using technology is vital for maintaining and cultivating professional relationships. Organizations are now finding themselves in need of innovative ways to unite various remote teams within their businesses, immerse new employees in the company culture, provide open communication to leadership, and reach out to external points of contact.
Video communication has without a doubt been one of the most essential methods for business continuity and cultivating remote teams. The coronavirus pandemic resulted in increased demand and adoption for tech-enabled video conferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, Cisco WebEx, and more. For perspective on the impact and scale, consider that the number of active participants of Zoom skyrocketed from 10 million at the end of 2019 to more than 300 million in April 2020. Video conferences mimic in-person meetings, allowing teams to collaborate, communicate verbally and via body language, and create the human connection that fosters a congenial workplace (albeit virtually).
Using video is great for productive work meetings, but they can also be used to strengthen social relationships among remote and distributed teams. Managers are hosting virtual happy hours, quiz nights, yoga classes, and more to foster camaraderie. These virtual social meetings allow team members to reveal more of their personality, let down barriers, and bond while partaking in fun activities.
Video calls for employees to unwind are garnering positive feedback, with employees sharing photos of the calls on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. Video chatting also provides employees a sense of ‘normalcy’ by partaking in activities that were common before social distancing took effect, even if they are currently remote.
Instant messaging applications are another easy approach to communicate. One of the most popular instant messaging apps is Slack. Slack is a relatively easy platform to navigate and is used by countless companies, including Airbnb, Pinterest, and Lyft.
Slack and other instant messaging applications like Flock, Ryver, and Glip often allow companies to create group chats. Group chats are perfect for creating custom teams to communicate about current projects and tasks, as well as groups that are used for general announcements the entire company should be aware of.
However, they are also great for creating groups based on certain topics that interest employees. These could include industry news, sports, food, and music. This connects employees with similar interests and sparks conversation between people who might not have met otherwise. This is extremely important for cultivating a sense of belonging for employees, especially new hires.
Social networks are created to bring people together and share content digitally. The same is true for internal company social networks. Companies can have employees create profiles where they can upload an image of themselves, write a bio, and list hobbies. This provides an ecosystem for employees to explore and connect with other teammates.
Internal social networks such as Tibbr, Chatter, and SocialCast provide a place for employees to share updated procedures, news that impacts employees, and timely articles. This opens communication between all levels of the company in a centralized location. Internal social networks can also be used for file sharing and saving, along with being a reference to review essential company documents.
Yammer, which is part of Microsoft 365 is a great internal social network that provides teams a central location to brainstorm and share information. Yammer is especially popular with large companies, with Microsoft reporting that 85% of Fortune 500 companies use Yammer.
Since people spend a large portion of their lives working, employees desire a sense of belonging in their workplace. Utilizing technology is an excellent resource to foster and maintain connections between employees, especially through video chatting, instant messaging, and social networks. So, the next time you think about hopping on another work call on your cell phone, maybe consider a new way to engage with your team and coworkers.