Today’s workplace is much different than it was pre-pandemic. Many continue to work from home. Employees continue to quit their jobs in record numbers. And Zoom has replaced face-to-face interactions. We’ve lost human connection even though we’re more connected than ever…at least digitally.
The digital world we live in has made us less patient—we expect instant answers and faster-than-lightning results. With Americans spending an estimated seven hours staring at a screen each day it’s no wonder we feel isolated. Is this isolation and screen time dehumanizing us? And how can we work collaboratively to achieve project goals we can’t even talk to each other?
Learning ways to effectively communicate at work is paramount to working as a team to achieve project and company goals. Here are some creative ways businesses can improve communication in the workplace.
1. Use Slack. Within the app, you can set up different topics, called channels. Channels are often used to set up communication between team members, but they can be used to foster team building. Here’s how it works. Let’s say you set up an exercise channel. Employees that want to be on that channel talk to each other about fitness-related topics giving kudos for including tough workouts or meeting fitness goals. A recipe channel can be used to exchange ideas inspired in the kitchen. The possibilities are endless.
2. Connect the Donut app to Slack. Donut’s tagline: Connect around the watercooler, anywhere. The Donut app is designed to build meaningful human relationships. For example, its “connect around the (virtual) watercooler” feature is designed to ignite serendipitous conversations. A watercooler topic might be: What’s a song you’ve had on repeat? Someone fill in the blank for today’s topic: “What’s your favorite ___?” The Donut app is a lot more robust than these two examples. Check it out.
3. Bring back Friday’s happy hour. If only virtually. Lockdown orders forced us to retreat to our homes. Going for appetizers after work stopped. Abruptly. The workforce is spread out and getting together in-person is almost impossible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have themed virtual happy hours. Themes are a great way to bring people together. Themed gatherings can also draw a distinction between meetings and team-building time. But it doesn’t have to be themed. Here’s some ideas from Hoppier, a virtual event platform:
- Avoid FOMO by scheduling your virtual happy hour when everyone can attend. Depending on how spread out your time is, it may not be possible for everyone to attend. Do the best you can. Or, better yet, switch the time monthly so that everyone can attend at least every other month.
- Pay for the drinks using gift cards (these can easily be emailed or virtually using a platform like Hoppier).
- Keep the conversation light. Remember, this is about building communication among team members. Keep it casual. Don’t talk about work. Get the conversation started with simple talking points.
4. Over-communicate. With a workforce that’s in-person, fully remote or somewhere in between, it’s important to communicate … and then keep talking. Never assume your coworkers, employees, or managers know what you mean. Follow-up verbal communications with a quick email or message. Update the project management system.
5. Learn together. Research shows that students who are asked to teach or tutor others work harder to understand the material. This is dubbed “the protégé effect.” A writing agency can ask its writers to teach grammar lessons to each other where one person teaches a grammar-related topic each week to the group. This is a great learning tool for employees. It also fosters communication through cheerleading and (virtual) pats on the back.
These are just a few creative ways to bust through communication obstacles and build team spirit at work—whether you are side-by-side in cubicles or halfway around the world.