Global events or crises often catalyze technological advancement because they require innovative solutions to new problems. During the pandemic, widespread lockdowns shoved the trend toward remote work into overdrive, with businesses worldwide forced to rapidly accelerate their digital transformation. As a result, many companies have adopted a permanent remote or hybrid work model, which gives employees increased flexibility and offers employers an expanded pool of qualified applicants.
One of the challenges businesses that embrace remote work face is fostering a company culture that engages new hires and makes them feel part of the team. As remote work has grown in prevalence and popularity, it’s also become more apparent that events like coffee pot conversations are vital for helping team members connect within their own teams and across an organization.
So how do businesses recreate those interactions in a digital world? These five tips can help.
Take those coffee chats online
On a company level, encourage employees to connect with one another by setting aside a half-hour each week for employees to communicate via video chat. Schedule a call that anyone can join and take the opportunity to introduce any new hires on this weekly call. To manage a large number of attendees or encourage people to talk with co-workers they may not know, you may also want to create virtual breakout rooms to make the groups smaller. Come into these meetings with a conversation starter that can be as simple as “What’s your favorite summer activity?”
You can create a company-wide engagement channel on messaging apps like Microsoft Teams or Slack to start these cross-team conversations.
On a team level, recommend that your team leaders set aside time for conversation in their team meetings. Taking 5-10 minutes at the beginning of a weekly call to connect can make all the difference and help new employees build bonds with their teammates.
Organize virtual team-building activities for new hires
Just like the workforce has become more remote, so have a lot of company activities. Schedule various activities that appeal to a wide range of interests, including those that require employees to form teams to participate.
Here at Evive, we host office trivia competitions with different themes in addition to activities like virtual yoga classes that allow for individual participation. We encourage employees to choose their teams and team names. Anyone who wants to participate but doesn’t have a team, we assign to one. It’s a fun opportunity for departments to have fun and join together outside the daily grind.
We offer other virtual team activities such as annual office Olympics and month-long step challenges. We assign teams and designate team captains from those who are interested, and we encourage each group to create a dedicated Slack channel for team members to bond and communicate.
Encouraging these connections and allowing employees to engage with new co-workers helps create a collaborative and inclusive work environment.
Help new hires take advantage of your hobbyists
Odds are your employees have a lot of different interests. Encourage them to share their hobbies with their colleagues by hosting hobby showcases and forming clubs anyone can join. A robust number of bookworms? Start a book club. One of your employees is skilled in mixology? Let them host a virtual cocktail-making session. Plenty of cooks in your company? Start a recipe-sharing group.
If you’re unsure where to start looking for mutual interests among your employees, you can leverage survey technology. Send a survey out asking people to select their interests and include an option for them to write in others. You can also ask if they’d be interested in pursuing that interest at work by forming a club or leading a “show and learn” session.
Leave room in the budget for team building
We often welcome new hires on board with a team lunch, and remote work doesn’t mean this tradition can’t continue. With the plethora of food delivery services available, you can still foot the bill and get your team members together virtually to share a meal. Beyond paying for a team welcome lunch, consider giving managers a budget they can use quarterly to cover team lunch or other activities, like going on a virtual history tour or trying a virtual escape room.
Check in regularly during the onboarding period
Onboarding goes well past a new employee’s first few weeks with your company. Make it a point to check in with new hires at the 30-, 60-, and 90-day marks to see how things are going. These check-ins are valuable for both your company and the individual because they allow you to learn if they’re getting to know their team members, whether they’ve had the chance to connect with people from other departments, and if they have a clear understanding of their role. This is also a perfect time to gather feedback on the onboarding process and learn what they’ve found helpful or areas for improvement.
Streamline these check-ins by automating them. For example, clients leveraging the MyEvive platform can send new hires a survey to answer questions about the onboarding process and offer feedback at the right intervals. Managers can review their comments and reach out if they have further questions.
Bringing a new employee into the fold is difficult, even at the best of times. An increasingly remote workforce presents unique challenges, but with a little extra effort and creativity, you can virtually build relationships and cultivate a collaborative, team-oriented culture.