Woman taking notes during an online meeting

It’s almost been a year since the work from home trend surged and many question marks still hang. Technology has helped people stay connected, but along with it came a brand new social dynamic that’s causing uncertainties. How do you ensure team cohesion when everyone’s miles apart?

Tanya Meck of the Forbes Communication Council has five tips for better team engagement.

1. Structure time to “show up”

Long meetings strain our patience, and remote meetings only amplify that monotony. Without immediacy, the cold glimmers of the computer screen exacerbate the feeling of disconnection and loneliness. Meck says that companies need to put in more support for employees to feel engaged, especially in informal environments so they can decompress.

2. Offer options for different personalities and preferences

Introverts and extroverts have varying degrees of social energy. They also have vastly different preferences in communications style. Companies need to tailor their social environments so introverts can freely express themselves outside of a group, like engaging in smaller, intimate pods, as well as 1-on-1 meetings with or without video.

3. Explain new policies with transparency and detail

Some companies are still deciding between having their workers return to the office or leaving them at home once the pandemic ends. Whatever they decide, however, Meck said that they need to communicate transparently about their decision. Clearly explain to your employees why one approach was favoured over the other and what new guidelines apply.

4. Acknowledge the challenging circumstances

Don’t forget that the juniors and interns are having a harder time adapting to their new work environment. Up the ladder, leadership also keeps silent on the challenges they’re facing and try to internalize their issues. Periodically check in on your peers even when unprompted. Everyone has their own struggles whether it be management or performance.

If they need to vent, just listen.

5. Create space for better relationships

Communication between coworkers doesn’t have to be austere. To foster better relationships, Meck says that teams should share their personalities with each other. Dedicate a few chats to pictures of your lunches, art, books, and entertainment.