Creating virtual social interactions online can feel awkward at first. We’re used to having chats in a coffee break room, or sharing a little about our weekend at the beginning of our staff meeting as people start to gather. That feels normal. Now that we are all online, we don’t have the same interactions. And although interactions online will never be the same as in person, we need to get creative in how we continue to connect and feel part of something.
Emotional Intelligence for leaders is more important than anything right now. No matter what results your team may or may not be providing, rest assured they are having all kinds of feelings and emotions during these times of change, uncertainty, and unrest. Now is not the time to ignore emotions and the need for connection. It’s imperative that you find ways to create space for your team to interact socially.
5 Tips to Provide Virtual Social Interactions for Your Team
Begin every meeting with just a few moments of social interchange. It can be as simple as having everyone share how they are doing. Other ideas include:
- Have everyone share what they are grateful for this week.
- Ask everyone to describe how they are feeling in 3-5 words.
- Request each person share their biggest win or challenge this week.
- Ask the team to come to the meeting ready to recognize another team member for something they’ve done.
You can keep it short, but don’t underestimate the payoff of allowing your team to feel heard, cared for, and connected to each other.
Schedule a virtual lunch. This can be as simple as everyone hopping on a Zoom call during their lunch hour and visiting casually. In addition, if you have it in the budget, you can offer a paid lunch to everyone and they can have something delivered or picked up.
Suggest virtual coffee breaks. Whether it’s for the whole team at once, or just one on one, a quick catch up with a colleague can also be a great support.
Provide reoccurring virtual support sessions. One of my clients provides a support session every other week. They utilize the time for company updates, checking in with team members, doing something fun together (like guessing baby pictures), reviewing their Employee Assistance Programs, and numerous other things to prevent feelings of isolation.
Ensure everyone has the opportunity to contribute. No matter what you do, always ensure that every team member has had an opportunity to say something. Your introverts may not be able to just jump in as easily as your extroverts. Create the space for them if you need to and ask them if they’d like to add anything.
By providing these opportunities for social interaction, you reduce the feeling of isolation, promote their sense of belonging, and help to build empathy, trust, and camaraderie.