Building Team Camaraderie in the Workplace (Especially if You’re Remote)

by in Best Practices, Mobility

Genuine team camaraderie is key to successfully building a collaborative and productive team that not only enjoys working together but can accomplish goals with ease. Noting research from Gallup, the Harvard Business Review writes, “Employees report that when they have friends at work, their job is more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying. Gallup found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.”

However, in 2020, many companies are finding it especially challenging to promote team camaraderie with the shift to remote work for many employees. In this blog we provide five helpful tips for building team camaraderie, especially with your remote employees. 

6 people embracing with their arms around each other

Team camaraderie is more than just collaboration

Team camaraderie is an essential, but sometimes overlooked, component of company culture. While there’s not necessarily a “one size fits all” approach to building team camaraderie, there are a handful of key components that can contribute to feelings of community and cohesion. 

Beyond collaboration, strongly rooted camaraderie requires honest communication, intentional interactions and a welcoming, inclusive atmosphere. When all of these elements come together, it creates an incredible team spirit capable of revitalizing a group’s energy and workflow, ultimately leading them in the direction of success. 

Trust

Building trust among team members is invaluable to maintaining healthy relationships. By laying a foundation of trust, coworkers feel more comfortable in their communications with one another, providing them with the confidence they need to share more freely. Creating a safe space for employees to express their ideas, opinions and concerns is not only necessary for productivity, but for continued camaraderie, as well.

Appreciation

Too often, the efforts we expend on our work are simply considered expectations met. But especially in seasons of transition, receiving affirmation on a job well done can be incredibly meaningful. Camaraderie thrives on acknowledgement of hard work and expressing appreciation for an individual’s contributions to the common goal. Knowing you are seen and your work is valued is not only an amazing motivator but a genuine morale booster, as well. 

Respect

Mutual respect is essential in any relationship, both inside and outside the office, but a great team knows respect among its members is imperative to a well-functioning workplace. Respecting differences in strengths and perspectives helps assert that every person has something unique to contribute to the conversation, and it validates everyone’s input as worthwhile.

Why Some Distributed Teams Find It Challenging to Connect

Building camaraderie in a time when team members are distributed can offer new, unfamiliar challenges. Unlike having in-person check-ins with coworkers in a shared office setting, remote workers will likely encounter obstacles related to proximity and accessibility. The following examples are just a few of the barriers to connecting a distributed team.

Physical distance

Physical distance is perhaps the most obvious challenge for remote teams. Unlike employees working in the same space, teams who work from home or other remote locations don’t have the opportunity to drop by a coworker’s desk or casually chat during a coffee break. Many of the activities and connections that occur within a traditional office are less possible when physical distance is factored into the equation.

Time-zone barriers

Teams who are newly remote (due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19) may still be working within the same city, while other teams might be spread out across the country or even internationally. Synchronizing schedules can definitely get tricky when two or more time zones come between coworkers. While these concerns aren’t impossible to overcome, they’re important to consider when trying to maximize workflow and get the most out of your workday.

Minimal non-work interactions

Non-work-related interactions are certainly helpful in establishing connection, yet distributed teams experience less of these interactions than teams who work together in person. As noted with physical distance challenges, remote teams don’t have the ability to catch up on their lunch breaks or take midday walks together. Distributed teams might go weeks without a non-work-related interaction, which can cause things to grow stale or strained if they’re not proactive about pushing past these issues.

5 Tips for Building a Stronger, Tighter-Knit Team

Remote teams hoping to establish workplace camaraderie will need to be incredibly intentional in how they interact with one another. Fortunately, building team camaraderie and company culture among a distributed team is not only possible, it’s very accessible, as well. By thinking creatively and reframing interactions to occupy a digital space rather than a physical one, remote companies can cultivate a sense of community just as strong as those in an in-person environment. Here are five tips to help you build a stronger, tighter-knit team. 

1. Make time for non-work 

Carving out time for non-work-related topics is essential to team building. Prioritizing a bit of fun or leisure is great for breaking up the day, boosting morale and encouraging closeness. Since camaraderie can wane when interactions lack any touch points into the team’s personal lives, it’s great to incorporate light-hearted conversation where you can. This is especially essential for remote teams. You can try a few virtual team building activities and host regular virtual happy hours, or even do something as simple as beginning your weekly team meeting with a new question for everyone to answer — inquiring about new hobbies, great reads, Netflix viewing and so on. 

2. Shout out good work

Privately giving attention to a member of your team for their good work is always a great idea, but public acknowledgement might mean even more when working remotely. Offering praise in a team email or during a video conference call is a wonderful way to boost morale and foster camaraderie among everyone. A bit of recognition can go a long way in deterring feelings of isolation associated with distance. In the midst of so much uncertainty, celebrating even small victories can be paramount in creating a strong community and a sense of togetherness for the whole team.

3. Be a guide if you can

If you have a position of authority at your company as an owner, manager, director or team lead, it largely falls to you to set an example for the rest of your team. This can look different for each company, but it almost always involves practicing kindness, offering forgiveness and extending empathy. You should also express appreciation whenever and wherever appropriate and be respectful of every individual. Taking the lead in these areas will encourage others to follow suit and set an incredible precedent for a work environment everyone can enjoy.

4. Give autonomy 

Granting autonomy is an excellent option for enhancing workplace camaraderie. If there’s a team member who’s shown ongoing promise or potential to thrive, assigning them a project to spearhead could really ignite a sense of ownership. If you show trust in someone, even for a small project or assignment, they’re likely to take that trust and run with it because they feel empowered to do their best. Additional responsibility can fuel an employee’s motivational fire, helping to spur their productivity and ignite a sense of pride.

5. Set up a group chat

If your company already utilizes Slack or a comparable chat app, an easy team-building extension to that is setting up a thread for content unrelated to the workday. This could be a space for swapping book recommendations, recipe ideas, custom playlists or any other resource that may be of interest to the group. An outlet with a loose structure like this allows the team to stay connected without necessarily causing interruptions since people can post and check in at their convenience.

Conclusion

Even if your team is distributed, it doesn’t mean they have to be disconnected. Community and camaraderie can flourish from a distance if everyone commits to taking small steps toward togetherness. Camaraderie in the workplace inevitably leads to gains on both personal and professional levels; not only are team members more fulfilled at work, but goals are achieved and even surpassed. This growth may require a bit more effort or imagination for remote teams, but in the end, the outcomes can be as powerful and positive as those that occur in person.