Not that long ago, there was a time when you could step into someone’s office or swivel in your chair to chat with a colleague on a new initiative, idea, or to follow up with a new member on your team. Today, however, with many teams working remotely, those impromptu conversations are not so easy.
As a leader, it is still essential to help your team members find ways to communicate and connect the dots through virtual hallway conversations.
Here are some ideas for ways to continue these important conversations virtually.
Be intentional with regular check-ins. The amount of time is important. If you only put 15 minutes on the calendar every other day, these regular connections will allow your team members to quickly catch up and get on the same page. These will also prove to be much more valuable than the typical project reviews.
Be willing to reach out to people. Whether you message them on Slack, buy them coffee, or send them a cookie bouquet, take time to connect with colleagues and keep in touch with team members you used to run into in the hallway. It is important to remember that you do not always need to talk about work. Take the time to ask about their lives, their families, and how they are doing. It helps you both feel connected, and it shows that you care.
Do not be afraid to step outside. If you are working in the office, gather up a few of your team members to walk (Richard Branson’s walking meetings) around the block, or enjoy lunch outside. One option is to have your team meet about once a month for lunch in the park in front of their office building. Everyone brings lawn chairs and spreads out six feet apart. They enjoy takeout meals and friendly conversation—but without the stale hallway air.
Create your own version of a sewing circle. In years past, women got together to catch up on the latest happenings while sewing quilts. You can do the same thing by bringing together a group that does not typically meet to enjoy virtual cocktails or socially distanced outdoor lunch. It is a great way to find out what is happening in people’s lives and learn how you might be able to help them.
Always be upfront with information. In traditional hallway conversations, the discussion was seldom one-sided. Both parties got details on the topic they were discussing. The same should be true in virtual hallway conversations. As a leader, make sure you give everyone helpful pieces of information, so they are not left in the dark.
If you miss those chance encounters in the hallway, take some time to put a fresh spin on them. Check-in with team members you may not see every day, work to bring people together in new ways and be open and forthcoming with what you know. Virtual hallway conversations may look and feel different, but they produce the same desired result: connection. Incorporate this–and thrive.
For some additional insight on adapting to remote-work life, take a look at our tips to beat virtual meeting fatigue.