• Westwood International

10 Ways to Foster Connection and Enhance Work Culture

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

In a recent poll on LinkedIn, we asked, “What’s the hardest part about managing a virtual team?” and 44% said building connections. So to help with that, we asked our leadership development team to share 10 clever ways to foster connection and enhance workplace culture.

Want to better understand the importance of building relationships in a hybrid team and what is being impacted when those opportunities don’t exist?

Read our recent post about building connections!

1) Recreate the water cooler chats

Carve out a few channels in Slack or your daily communication platform of choice, and use it exclusively for informal conversations. Not sure what to call them or how to use them? Here are a few ideas:

  • Office of the Day or OTD: Create a space to allow people to show off their home offices or remote desk locations whether it be at a coffee shop or poolside somewhere warm and sunny.

  • Get Outside: Use this channel to remind people to get outside, move their bodies, and clear their minds. If you go for a run, walk, adventure, or simply soak up a scenic view over lunch, take a photo and share it here!

  • Tunes or Desk Dancing: Have you been in a music rut before or ever heard a song that turned your day around? This is an excellent way for people to request playlists or songs from other coworkers, or share the songs they’re listening to on repeat.

2) Integrate wellness into your workplace

Send a message announcing an “office time-out” for an hour each week to encourage people to step away from their desks to do something that makes them feel recharged. Remind folks to share photos at the end with the hope that it might inspire someone’s future office time-out activity! Engaging remote teams in a wellness journey builds connections between team members, sparks creativity, and increases productivity. It sounds like a win-win-win!

3) Share a meal

Remember when you would eat lunch at work and get to know someone new or share a meal with an old friend? Those were the days! But don’t worry, shared lunches can still happen even if you’re working remotely. Pick a time to eat together, and send out a gift card to Uber Eats or a local food delivery company. Then decide if you want to share a meal over Zoom as a whole team or plan to break out into smaller groups organized with members of different teams or departments. Enjoy getting to know someone new, and reminder, no shop talk!

4) Schedule one-on-one check-ins

Think of these as informal emotional check-ins to see how individuals are doing in their role, how they are doing personally, and even open it up to see where they would like to see changes. Also referred to as welfare checks, these allow you to better understand who they are and how they work while making them feel heard, validated, and supported. Put yourself in their shoes: how productive are you when your mind is foggy or you’re feeling frustrated versus when you are fully present?

5) Company challenges

Ready to tap into your competitive energy? Encourage friendly competition around something that your team is passionate about right now. This could be anything from a fitness challenge to a culinary challenge where people share their favorite recipe and everyone votes at the end. Remember to keep it fun, and don’t forget about the prize!

6) Pay it forward

Volunteering as a team or company is a great way to foster strong connections, improve communication, and get involved with your local community. Pay it forward by supporting local groups, help out at a community center, or other creative opportunities that fit your team's interests and abilities.

7) Find joy in what you do

Teams thrive when individuals have a sense of belonging and have a space to share their passions and interests. As you work to connect with your team members, write down the things that stand out to you to reference later to help people find joy in what they do.

8) Entice people to come into the office

Support the work from home days because it allows your team to achieve a positive work-life balance. A few of the benefits of working in a hybrid team are that you have the opportunity to work in your own space and can return to the office to enjoy the benefits of collaborating in person. Entice people to come into the office with fresh baked goods, fruit, or even team lunches!

9) Take the PERMAH Wellbeing survey as a team

According to Professor Martin Seligman, “...the easiest way to care for your wellbeing is by understanding that it comprises: positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning, accomplishment, [and] health.” Take the survey to have a clearer understanding of what parts of your life need more attention, and track your process along the way. Click here to get started.

10) Give your team ownership

Ask, and you shall receive. If you’re struggling to find ways to build connections within your team, perhaps the problem is that you are disconnected from them. Find a time to check in with your team members individually and see how they’re doing. As you learn what is working well and what they’re struggling with, ask them what changes they would like to see.

It’s important to remember that even though working remotely has many benefits, it can be pretty isolating at the end of the day. Whatever you decide to do, have fun with it, and create a personalized plan for your team rooted in empathy, support, and positive relation

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