GEMS for Remote Connection During the Pandemic

By David Hoberman

 GEMS of Connection During the Pandemic

As many office workers remain working remotely for the foreseeable future during the pandemic, organizations have grappled with how to keep their employees connected and communicating. Sometimes even the best-intentioned workplace-sponsored activities or events can feel like yet another obligation, both for the people putting it on, as well as those attending.

I’ve spent five years working remotely for Key Lime Interactive, and spent months at a time working on projects in Fortune 500 companies where I’ve been integrated as a team member often in a hybrid mix of remote and in-person. So I’ve seen a wide range of approaches to keeping remote workers connected, and there probably has never been a time where it has been as important as it is right now.

Tips to Keep Remote Workers Engaged

Keeping employees engaged

I spent some time thinking about what seemed to work best for creating workplace interactions or events designed to foster connection over and above any strictly work-related merit. Not from a prescriptive list of activities, but deeper principles underlying them. Because we need something cheery right now, let’s call it G.E.M.S . for short:

  • Guide: It helps to have an overarching purpose, theme, or reason for the event that goes beyond getting together and saying hi. Topics to discuss, activities to perform, invitations to present all give events a framework which can give people something to talk about. Some of the interesting examples I’ve seen have been people teaching random non-work skills they’ve learned, like how to do pour-over coffee.  Or super-short drop-in meetings with pre-planned questions about what people are reading, or where they would travel if they could. Or even share-out sessions for researchers to brainstorm approaches or present something they’re working on for feedback. 
  • Engage: Whatever your topic or theme is for your event, think about how you can engage people. Really engage them in the discussion or activity instead of relegating them to passive listeners with a brief period of Q&A.
  • Mix It Up: There’s no single winning formula, but one thing is clear. Sometimes it takes several different tries to get it right. People like routine, but especially right now when many of our lives have become more constrained, they also crave a bit of novelty. Don’t set it and forget it; revisit these.
  • Space It Out: The impulse can be to set up a bunch of weekly events, and that can seem overwhelming or intrusive on top of an already busy schedule. Consider spreading these activities out biweekly at minimum to give people space to participate or not as they have time without feeling burdensome.

Your Thoughts on Remote Work During the Pandemic

What has your company done that has worked - or not worked? What do you think is most important to keep in mind about staying connected with your colleagues when working remotely? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Drop me an email at david@keylimeinteractive.com or leave your comments below.

Here are some examples of how Key Lime Interactive has decided to stay connected.

GEMS for Virtual connection-1