According to a survey of 1039 newly-remote workers, only a quarter of employees who’ve participated in a virtual happy hour or team hangout were interested in doing it again. However, 92% expressed wanting some kind of team-building activity on a regular basis.
What does this tell us? Employees need more effective ways to connect remotely.
The problem is, we’re all simultaneously experiencing burnout from the screen time that remote work demands. Employees aren’t interested in prolonging that exhaustion with lackluster virtual events.
Why it matters: Hybrid/remote employees need ways to build relationships with colleagues and boost team morale that don’t cause fatigue.
Since the dawn of the pandemic, People Ops leaders have been faced with the challenge of building remote cultures that foster meaningful connection and team alignment. The past year and a half of experimenting has revealed a few key tactics that can help you better engage your team virtually:
When you plan out in-person events, you think about every little detail like where the food is placed or who sits at what table. Most organizers spend 10x less preparing for virtual events, and that’s where they get it wrong — whether it’s writing out a detailed agenda or doing a tech dress rehearsal, we need to put just as much energy into planning our virtual events.
Steer away from having a weekly social event just to have it. Consider hosting events on a schedule that makes sense for your team and doesn't require more screen time than necessary. We recommend monthly or bi-monthly, depending on team size.
In the spirit of keeping mental health top of mind and preventing burnout, it’s critical to give employees the choice to attend. While a fun event can often be exactly what your team needs to boost morale, sometimes a night off of the screen is exactly what an employee needs.
Great virtual events don’t always have to involve the entire team, especially at larger companies. Try setting up breakout rooms for different interests (e.g., one for virtual yoga, one for playing Kahoot, etc.) or host “speed-dating” one-on-ones to connect employees across teams.
Maximize the power of Slack by using it to spur virtual engagement through fun thought-starters. Here at Gather, we’re pretty fond of our #rogue-banter channel — a judgement-free zone for sharing anything from interesting articles to the new Trader Joe’s items we’re trying out.
If you’re in charge of leading team events at your company, it’s helpful to get feedback early and often. We recommend sending out a quick survey the day following a full-company virtual event. Further engage team members by letting them submit their own virtual event ideas (or run events themselves!).
The bottom line: We all want to have great relationships with our teammates. Building those relationships virtually is hard work but critical to the success of a hybrid/remote company.
As People Ops leaders, creating meaningful virtual events, encouraging non-video-based forms of connection, and making space for feedback are essential to building the foundation of productive, engaged remote teams.