How to maintain team synergy while social distancing

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 9, 2021

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Mangers have a tough enough time as it is creating synergy among their team members. But, throwing in social distancing and remote work creates a whole new set of challenges. Here are a few ways you can keep your team engaged with one another.

Allow time for open conversation.

Even if your team is in the office, it’s unlikely everyone gets to meet in a conference room or around the coffee bar to catch up. Set aside some time during your regularly scheduled virtual team meetings to check in on a personal level. The frequency of your meetings is entirely up to your team’s cultural norms. If you have a large team, poll them to determine how often, preferred days, and the best time of day to conduct a constructive and enjoyable meeting.

You and your team may even work with other teams and departments within your organization, and it’s likely you haven’t seen them face-to-face in quite some time. On occasion, kick your team meetings up a notch and invite co-workers from other teams or departments to join in and catch up.

Try breaking the ice by asking meeting participants to locate an item on their desk that has personal meaning to them and share with the group why that item is meaningful. Consider making the virtual meetings more fun by providing your team with a set of emoji sticks and an assortment of virtual backgrounds.

Celebrate … everything.

No matter the state of the economy or unemployment rate, finding the right person for your team is no easy task. Recognition goes a long way toward increasing employee retention and satisfaction. As a manager, you should make every effort to retain the talent you’ve already cultivated by finding ways to celebrate their accomplishments and anything else that is important to them.

For those who are in the office, even if it’s not every day, celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries by posting celebration signs at their workstation for everyone to see. Nothing feels better than to be recognized and there’s no reason to ignore those opportunities just because not everyone is in the office. And for those who are working remotely, take advantage of online greeting cards so everyone can sign a card and express their appreciation for the person being celebrated.

During your meetings, virtual or otherwise, make a point of verbally recognizing an individual’s accomplishments. Whether it’s completing a project ahead of schedule and under budget, increasing efficiencies or obtaining a new professional certification, verbal recognition in front of peers is a sure-fire way to increase employee satisfaction.

According to a survey conducted by BambooHR, recognition from a supervisor was one of the top three ways employees view success. And in-person verbal recognition from a supervisor was the number one way employees prefer to be recognized. Furthermore, 56 percent of men and 41 percent of women surveyed said they need to be recognized by a supervisor a few times a month. From a different perspective, according to a Forbes article, “global studies reveal that 79 percent of people who quit their jobs cite ‘lack of appreciation’ as their reason for leaving.”

Mix it up.

Remote work can make even the most interesting projects and tasks seem mundane when there’s no one around to bounce ideas and questions off of. Keep things interesting by teaming up co-workers who normally wouldn’t work together. Or, if your department doesn’t typically work in groups, assign projects or tasks to team members that would stretch their skill sets and encourage them to reach out to their co-workers for assistance.

With less distraction from the typical office chatter, your employees are likely to find themselves with a little more free time than usual. Encourage your staff to spend that newfound extra time attending professional development programs that will expand their knowledge and improve their performance.

Participate in a virtual conference.

With a great majority of the workforce unable to attend in-person conferences, organizations are stepping up their virtual conferencing game. Conferences that once were available only in-person are now offered virtually. Search for inspiring and engaging virtual conferences your team can attend together. Virtual conferences can be more cost effective with no travel, lodging and food expenses to account for. After the conference, meet virtually to discuss your favorite moments, initiatives you intend to implement and topics you found interesting and inspiring.

With some effort, you’ll be able to maintain an engaging atmosphere and continue to create synergy among your team.



Express Employment Professionals services the River Parishes from its Gonzales location. Express is a member of the River Region Chamber of Commerce and the LaPlace branch of Business 2 Business. More articles on leadership can be accessed at