Written by Fiona van Graan

Despite the geographical separation most of us are suddenly grappling with, leadership is still about people. So in some ways, nothing has changed. The age-old principles still apply. Great leadership is still about winning hearts and minds, communicating, and building psychological safety by fostering mutual trust, respect and support.

It’s just how we apply these age-old principles that’s suddenly up for grabs. How to help a team feel like a team when they can only see each other in little boxes on a screen? How to make room for those golden moments of banter that used to happen organically during Friday evening drinks?

Here are some novel connection alternatives we’re seeing work:

1.) Care Packs

During this diffiuclt time, showing care and concern to your team members will boost their spirit and positivity. You can be creative in your effort to cheer them up. Leaving them gifts with simple cards to their doorstep can brighten up their day.  Importantly,  your team members will feel how valued they are and will put high trust in your leadership.

2.) Virtual Tours

Choose one of your most outgoing team members and ask them (in advance!) to give everyone a brief virtual tour of their home at the conclusion of one of the team meetings.

3.) Connect with physical exercise

Now that our desks are just a few steps from the bed we rolled out of, we all need to multitask exercise into our day. What better way to encourage your people to exercise than to factor it into meetings? Both ‘Walk and Talk’ and ‘Stand Up’ meetings are a lot easier to organise now that everyone is video conferencing rather than together in the office, so make the most of it.

4.) Buddies

Pair colleagues for ongoing mutual support specifically focused on tackling the challenges they each face with home working.

5.) Chat Roulette

Randomly pair colleagues at the start of the week for a 15 minute chat, where the only rule is that the discussion can’t be work related. It may seem awkward at first, but when they realise they have the same dog breed, they both love boxing, or whatever, ongoing working relationships are stronger.

6.) Friday Evening Virtual Drinks

The most common rules are: video on, drink in hand. Some teams add a competition like ‘Covid-19 meme of the week’.

7.) Remote Onboarding Home Delivery

To personalise how you welcome a new colleague, find out a bit about their interests and send a welcome gift to their home by courier.

8.) Share your Passions

Offer a yoga/ meditation/ workout session; invite team members to run a session on something they’re passionate about. It will help keep everyone healthy and probably generate a few laughs along the way.

9.) Scavenger Hunt

First to return to their screen holding the item you’ve requested gets a point.

10.) And finally, online games

Online games like ‘Fibbage’, ‘Drawful’ or ‘Monsters seeking Monsters’ can have real business benefits, from polishing logic skills and strategic ability, to rejuvenating creativity. Explore the options and experiment with what works best for your team’s particular style.

 If there ever was a perfect time to experiment with novel approaches, it’s now. So filter all these ideas according to your team’s culture and personalities, and go for it. The picture is far from gloomy, forget disconnection. Right now everyone is distributed, and this is an incredible opportunity to strengthen connections.

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