Before reading this article, take a look at your Instagram. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.
Welcome back! Now, what did you see?
Our personal Instagram profiles present us each as influencers – traveling to beautiful places, basking in new experiences, eating the most drool-worthy food, and doing it all while looking our absolute best (thank goodness for filters).
But does that paint an accurate picture of your life? Probably not.
The dirty little secret is that the same goes for business Instagram profiles. Everything is shown in the light of having the best time at the office, sharing beautifully crafted words of wisdom, #hustling for amazing results, all with the most flattering filters available. Can someone pass me a craft beer from the company fridge, so I can embark on my mid-day ping pong break?
Remote businesses have an extra advantage in the Instagram game. With teams spread throughout the world, there are ample opportunities to highlight different regions, cultures, foods, and experiences. There’s even the flexibility to really have the time to dive in and enjoy!
But, again, that’s not the whole story.
The truth is that while there is a long list of perks that accompany remote work, there are also some tough aspects. In our first post, we covered how to set boundaries with your remote job. In this post, we want to shed some light on another challenge associated with remote work – staying connected – and share a few steps we’ve taken to try and promote a connected culture at CanIRank.
Remote Work and Mental Health
With eight million workers in the US logging their hours at home in 2017, working remotely is steadily on the rise. The draw to the remote working lifestyle is obvious – fewer meetings, more flexibility, less (or no) commuting, and more overall freedom.
But remote working can take a toll for some.
Working from home can mean travel and adventures, but it can also mean isolation and loneliness. The day-to-day grind is often experienced without actually seeing – or sometimes even interacting with – teammates. Exposure to bosses is minimal – as can be praise or validation of work.
While 82 percent of those who work remotely reported lowered levels of stress, others have experienced feelings of isolation and loneliness. According to Psychology Today, isolation can result in depression, social anxiety, and hoarding.
That’s why it’s so important for remote businesses to take extra precautions to ensure the team feels engaged and connected to one another.
When your team is sprinkled throughout the world, communication is essential. It enables the team to know who is doing which task. It shows clients what work is accomplished and what is in the pipeline. Most importantly, it keeps the team connected. At CanIRank, we use Trello, Slack, and Join.me to interact with each other.
Trello is the project management tool that enables us to keep clients and our teammates up-to-date with tasks. Each card represents a task that needs to be accomplished, so the team can visualize the strategy and progress. This tool provides a greater understanding of how the team can work together to achieve the best results.
Our Slack features channels assigned to each client where we can have group chats around strategy and answer quick internal questions. However, our Slack usage is more on par with the company watercooler. We have channels dedicated to healthy eating, acknowledgment of job success, “humble brags” about passion projects outside of work, weekly icebreaker questions and even one to commiserate experiences with online trolls. These channels enable the team to connect on topics outside of tasks, promoting a deeper understanding of each other and what interests us.
Join.me is a video conferencing tool that enables the team to – well – see each other. We use it for sprint reviews where we talk about what was accomplished every two weeks for a client. But we’ve also used it to simply talk to each other. Every few weeks, each team at CanIRank has a huddle to discuss how they’re doing in each specialty. This gives them the chance to talk about challenges and victories as well as share insights.
Team Building Activities
As one terrifying movie character once said, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Only gathering around work and any stresses associated with it isn’t a healthy way to team build. That’s why we have implemented a monthly social for the team to come together for an activity that is purely – well, fun.
Games are a way to team build where everyone is working together on something (or playfully against each other). However, our games aim to shed new light on the team. For example, with one game, we ask everyone to share their favorite song – or least favorite song. Then we try to match the player to the song. We’ve also had all of our consultants send over a photo of them as a baby and tried to guess who was in each photo.
Another way we learn about our team members is through our CanIRank TED Talks. We have a team with diverse interests, so we had volunteers sign up to present on a passion or hobby of theirs. This helps us take our minds off of work for about an hour while learning about something we otherwise wouldn’t. In our first TED Talk, we learned about dinosaurs!
We’ve also brought in outside experts to teach us fun, new skills, and bond. For example, we brought in the Leadership and Resiliency Institute, LLC to teach the team how to cope with stress, meditate and set ourselves up for leadership positions. This opened us up to an honest conversation regarding stressors and helped us learn how to manage them together.
Connection is so important, but it’s also something that many remote businesses lack. How does your team promote connection in the workplace? Tell us in the comments!