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One of the biggest challenges for thriving in a remote work environment is staying connected when you’re apart.

Isolation looms for many employees who transition to working remotely, since the social glue that kept the team together is no longer present. The water cooler chats, coworkers check-ins, and lunch breaks become a distant memory, and physical distance makes strong work relationships difficult to maintain.

In this guide, we’ll explore some of the best ways to stay connected and strengthen your coworker bonds in a remote team.

Create Employee Profiles

If you’re operating in a fully-remote work environment, chances are, there’ll be many employees who haven’t had the chance to get to know one another. As a result, every time someone needs to reach out to a coworker, there’s a strong probability that it’s one of their first interactions.

First impressions leave a lasting impact, but they’re easy to get wrong.

Say an employee has a question about the creative direction of a project and contacts the team leader for more information. If they’re naturally more direct in their communication, they might ask for the information in a way that comes across as rude to the team leader - which might unnecessarily get their work relationship off on the wrong foot.

To avoid this common issue, you can introduce icebreakers in the form of employee profiles.

Employee profiles can establish the groundwork for online cooperation, as they provide a breakdown of each individual, how they like to work, and what their biggest pet peeves are in the workplace.

Think of it like a Facebook page or dating profile, where you can learn a lot about the person before you interact with them. 

Although it sounds simple, using employee profiles is an excellent way to avoid unnecessary friction and help support productive collaboration. As a side benefit, employees can strike up a conversation if they notice mutual interests, which could lead to healthy work relationships.

Replace What’s Missing

Even if your company has been remote from day one, most of your employees will likely have experienced an on-site job in the past.

They’ll be familiar with the social upside of working in a shared space, and will almost certainly be aware of what they’re missing in a remote work environment.

Here are some of the most important activities that make up the social fabric of the physical workplace, and how you can replace them in a virtual workplace:

#1 Water Cooler Chats

One of the best parts of working from an office is the opportunity to get up from your desk, stretch your legs, and chat with your colleagues over a refreshing cup of water. You’re free at any moment to leave your booth, cubicle, or office space and interact with others.

When you work remotely, it can feel as if you only have your screen for company. You can get up for water, but then you return to your desk sans socialization. 

However, you can recreate these informal conversations online.

Replace with: Casual Slack channel

If you use Slack for communication, you can set up a channel dedicated to informal coworker conversations. You may even want to create several based on different interests, age groups, or other factors.

That way, coworkers can feel as if they can escape work for a moment or two throughout the day and chat with friends. 

This works best when you use employee monitoring software, as you can make sure informal Slack chats are confined to certain times of the day to avoid lost productivity.

#2 Lunch Breaks

Lunch breaks are another time during the work day that many look forward to.

Where some offices would offer catering for employees to enjoy while they chat with coworkers, others would vacate the site and head to nearby lunch spots for food and a conversation.

In a remote team, the best case scenario is often a walk around the block and a sandwich at home. Unless you integrate digital lunch breaks into your day.

Replace with: Zoom lunch

One way to weave socialization into your remote team’s day is to have Zoom lunch hour, where you all jump on a call to decompress and enjoy a brief break.

This way, employees can opt in if they’re in the mood for socializing or do their own thing.

#3 Team-Building Activities

Team-building activities are the lifeblood of many successful teams.

They bring people together, inspire morale, and create strong work relationships. Whether you have someone come into the office to lead a series of challenges or go on an off-site retreat, these activities can help the team work together well.

In place of these in-person team-building activities, you need a digital alternative.

Replace with: Online interactive games

You have many options for team-building online these days thanks to the emergence of companies dedicated to providing remote-friendly activities.

Here are some examples:

  • Virtual escape rooms
  • Online quizzes
  • Puzzle-solving
  • Digital scavenger hunts
  • Online murder mystery

Set Up Social Spaces

Once you’ve set up employee profiles and replaced what may be missing in your remote work environment, you should look to add social spaces.

Social spaces are the conduits for virtual socialization.

They can take many forms, such as the following:

Slack channels - Slack is an excellent tool for creating strong bonds in your remote team since you can create context-specific channels for communication. You can have one chat for a specific work project and another for discussing general interest topics.

Zoom rooms - Having a place to jump on a call and speak with others face-to-face is important in a remote team. Written communication is great, but speaking on a call is a much more personable way to connect.

Project management space - If you use a project management tool like Basecamp, you can set up a social space where team members can chat and leave comments for one another.

The more social spaces you include, the better.


Because different team members will enjoy different communication styles. Some may have no trouble jumping on a call with 5+ others, whereas some will prefer to chat through written messages.

When you implement social opportunities, you might be wondering how to track computer activity to avoid time theft. With an effective employee monitor system like Insightful, you can track employee time down to the minute.

The real-time pc activity monitor gives you insight into every action of your employees, so you can make sure idle time doesn’t get in the way of productivity.

Use User Activity Monitoring Software

If you’re worried about the impact of creating more social opportunities for your remote team, you shouldn’t be.

First, more socialization can lead to benefits such as:

  •  Improved coworker relationships
  •  Better collaboration
  •  Fewer miscommunications

But also because you can mitigate any lost productivity with software to monitor internet activity.

The best employee monitoring software solutions allow you to pinpoint how team members spend their time and draw up productivity reports. With a view all activities tracker like Insightful, you can see what websites and apps employees have been visiting, so it’s easy to infer how much time is being spent on social activities vs. work activities.

You can use Insightful not only to improve employee performance, but to measure the impact of any initiatives you introduce to boost socialization in the workplace. If you find that after introducing a casual Slack chat channel, it’s all that anyone wants to spend their time on, then it might be time to go back to the drawing board or introduce rules around it.

Apps for tracking work hours offer a straightforward solution to tracking every aspect of employee performance, so you can see the direct result of the changes you make.

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