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7 Tips for Staying Connected When You're Running Out of  Ideas and Still Social Distancing

7 Tips for Staying Connected When You're Running Out of Ideas and Still Social Distancing

By Erica Berg and Megan Toal

Connecting with your staff is always important, but during uncertain times where your team is remote or social distancing, it’s even more crucial to keep your staff engaged, connected, and, in turn, happy. We have been working remotely for 3 months now and  know it can be challenging to come up with creative ideas. Here are our 7 tips for keeping staff connected when you feel like you’ve used up your best ideas:

1. Try photo contests. Many -people love sharing photos and even more love voting on the best ones! Photos can be of their pets, their artwork, or their favorite mug—anything goes! You can even take it a step further by asking staff to vote for the cutest pet, silliest mug, or best artwork. We found that our ֱ team really loves sharing photos of their pet coworkers, and we were amazed at not only their cuteness, but also their fun names—Sigmund Freud, Butterscotch, and Chesterton (Chet for short).Just remember to   be very clear about where the photos will be shared: internally, externally on social media, or both. Be especially cautious if you’re thinking about asking staff to share photos of their children; parents might be comfortable sharing their cute kid photos internally on a company intranet but not want them posted publicly on social media. We’ve made it a policy not to share photos of staff’s children publicly.

2. Ask staff to share something personal, but not too personal. Some people might not like sharing a photo of their child, but they might love to tell you where they went to college. Survey your team to find out what city they would most like to travel to, what comfort food is getting them through quarantine, or what is the most surprising new skill they had to learn while sheltering at home (we were amazed to learn one of our colleagues had to take on at-home orthodontia repairs for their child while sheltering in place). It’s ok to ask people to send a photo of their favorite mug (a personal element), but avoid asking for a “who has the messiest kitchen” photo (too personal—don’t do it).

3. Don’t push it—some people aren’t into it. They may not feel like sharing a photo. That’s ok; don’t force or coerce your colleagues into participating. Let them come to you in their own way.

4. Seek input from coworkers and accept recommendations: let your team tell you what they want to participate in sharing. That’s the best data you can use! Additionally, promoting staff buy-in and showcasing that their thoughts and ideas are valued will help your team feel more connected.

5. Try a theme day. Weird hat Monday meetings? Favorite book Thursday? It’s easy to get burned out by video chats, so find a way to help your staff look forward to a meeting and share their creativity. Look up different “national” days (like National Donut Day) and see how you can incorporate them into your meetings.

6. Shake up work-related and non-work–related content that you’re sharing. You want your communication pieces to be a resource AND engaging. Sometimes staff may want to use the tools you offer, and sometimes they might want to share a picture of their pet because it’s fun. Start with a 50/50 ratio of work-related vs non-work–related content to see how your team responds and adjust the percentage if their more responsive to one type of content more than the other.

7. Have fun! If you want your staff to have fun and connect with each other, you should participate too! Sometimes you might feel like you already participated by virtue of creating the activity, but don’t forget to send in your own submission if you’re comfortable!

Erica Berg, MSHR, is an HR coordinator and Megan Toal is a content marketing associate on the Creative Media Services team at ֱ.

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