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Navigating the new normal: Five easy ways to encourage collaboration

Cal Lee, Global Head - Workthere

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way the world works, and with some UK workers beginning to return to the office, some anticipating a phased return in the coming weeks and others working at home for the foreseeable future, it can be difficult to connect the workforce together.

Here are five tips on how you can stay connected to your colleagues, both in and out of the office.

Communicate like you’re all in the office

Being able to speak to your colleagues throughout the day is an integral part of office life, and communicating as you normally would (as much as is possible) should be the first step in maintaining a sense of connection, whether you’re back in the office or working from home. You could also organise a mid-morning or mid-afternoon virtual tea break as a pick me up, or celebrate team members’ achievements over chat or video call.

Have at least one daily check-in with your team

When you have teams working across different locations, it’s vital that you have daily check-ins to ensure you all feel connected, even when apart. A simple way of doing this is to ensure you have a call at the same time each day, during which each person is given a speaking slot to share ideas and workloads. Although this has been implemented by many businesses when the workforce began to work from home, it’s important that this communication continues when some return to the office and some stay home, to make sure all colleagues feel connected to each other.

Plan virtual socials

Socials are an integral part of office life, particularly in shared workspaces where collaboration and socialisation are prominent, so it’s important to ensure social activities don’t fly under the radar as colleagues work apart. Virtual socials are a great way of connecting with colleagues wherever they’re based, so why not arrange one every two weeks or so? You could arrange a quiz over or after-work drinks over video call, a virtual games night or even a virtual escape room.

Encourage video calls

Rather than relying too heavily on instant messenger tools, consider phone calls and video calls more often. Face-to-face communication and voice interaction is incredibly important in maintaining relationships with colleagues while working apart, so make time to speak to them each day.

While it might be tempting to turn off your camera on a video call, leaving it on so you can interact with colleagues ‘face-to-face’ is important. As you can see your colleagues and pick up on visual cues and body language, video calls can make workflow easier by talking problems through as you would in the office, rather than having to wait for responses online and risk things being misinterpreted.

  1. Start a club to learn something new

Encouraging you to be more social with your colleagues, starting a new club is a great idea to stay connected to them, both in and out of the office. You could start a book club or even a Netflix club, where each employee watches the same show, and then have a call or group chat where you can each discuss the show or book and what you thought of it. Another good idea is to start a virtual class, such as crafts, art or cooking. One employee who is skilled in a certain area can circulate a recipe or instruction sheet beforehand, then host a video call for everyone else to give it a go. This is a great way to learn more about your colleagues and pick up a new skill too, all the while helping colleagues feel connected to each other.

Cal Lee, Global Head of Workthere, comments: “Office workers are somewhat in limbo at the moment, as some prepare to return to the office while others remain at home. While at first glance this may seem like a challenge, this type of set up is relatively normal for those used to working in flexible office spaces or serviced offices. It can be difficult to stay connected to colleagues while some work from home and others resume normalcy in the office, but there are lessons and opportunities we can take from the flexible office market to create opportunities for better collaboration and connectivity for teams long-term.”

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