How do we strengthen team bonds and trust in a virtual world

January 5, 2021
Danielle North

Are we working and operating in an environment that is connected but not always together?

When the conditions of 2020 were thrust upon us, many teams and organisations quickly adapted. We translated our work into an online format and ploughed on. 

Soon enough, Zoom and Teams felt like second nature - we mastered the art of muting appropriately; accommodating the delay; and scheduling back to back. 

From a functional perspective, we won. But what about our ability to connect more deeply with each other and build trust between colleagues that we know is vital to a high-performing team?

How are all those new starters who have never met their colleagues really feeling?

The loneliness that isn’t visible

We’ve learnt in the last year about physical isolation and loneliness. The festive period and the sudden restrictions amplified this for many. 

But what about the loneliness when someone is plugged into a team or organisation everyday, yet they feel completely unseen and unheard for who they are and how they feel. 

As companies prioritise wellbeing - the health hampers; mental health webinars and physical activity advice - are they missing the fundamentals of helping their people to more deeply connect to each other when they need it the most?

Is this just assumed as happening naturally rather than being intentionally created?

Bad for people, bad for business

Without the deeper feeling of connection, colleagues don’t feel they can approach each other. As a side effect, they don’t understand each other and we see conflict arise more often. Decisions stall or face friction and people become more individualised in their roles and tasks. 

Day to day these things are tiny paper cuts for a team or business. They don’t have big consequences at the time, but they cost mental energy, creativity and long term employee engagement. Loyalty to the team or organisation slowly erodes. 

What can be done?

Before retreats were restricted by the pandemic, they were a source of sacred time for those attending them. People that were together for just a week or few days felt such a strong connection to each other, they felt compelled to support each other long term outside of the retreat. 

We can glean insight from this world of retreats and apply it to teams and organisations - how to quickly build that depth and shared connection in a short space of time?

What happens if we examine the activities and facilitation techniques of successful retreats and bring them into the working world. 

Imagine if we could add ten minutes into every meeting as a micro-pause. What if we create intentional space for shared reflection, vulnerability and perspective taking. Would this not be one of the healthiest things we could do for our employees in a limited dimension virtual world. 

Allowing the solution to emerge

Pause. Pause long enough to allow people time to share and listen to each other meaningfully. Pause long enough for people to formulate their own thoughts and thinking so they can uniquely contribute. Pause to cultivate productive space and a shared understanding. 

When we facilitate self-awareness and increased consciousness, this improves the performance of individuals. Trust and respect develops within teams. Communication improves. Suddenly working remotely feels smooth and connected.

We believe leaders and managers have a duty right now - a duty to create enough space in people’s working day for shared connection and inner reflection to take place. So that employees have this insulation for their own mental health. 

The world of 2021 needs it. The world of 2021 needs to be together, not just connected. 

Curious to learn more?

We are delighted to be running the Pause 30 Day Challenge in the UK and Singapore, to strengthen our team bonds and maximise our performance during these challenging times.

Discover more here

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