Connection is a vital part to being human. We thrive because of our love and connection to each other. In 2020, our world has shifted as we’ve been forced into social distancing.
I was recently speaking to Garry Ridge, CEO for the WD-40 company, and he said that they are calling it “physical distancing” instead of “social distancing.” His exact quote was “We need physical distancing but social connection.” This hit home so much. We are social creatures and we need each other. Our connections are vital to our emotional and mental well-being.
We defined the 5 Cultural Keys in our book Engage! in order to make organizational culture more tangible and measurable. The 5 Cultural Keys are Collaboration, Creativity, Connection, Celebration and Contribution. Connection is more important than ever right now!
Connection is about having a deeper emotional connection internally to the employees and externally to the customers. This happens through the values, the purpose, and the communications that happen within a company.
When you know that connection is vital and we are living in a much more digital world these days, you can start to take a proactive approach to creating the feeling of connection as much as possible. Nothing is going to replace the feeling you get with the face-to-face meetings, the hugs and the handshakes, and the direct eye-to-eye contact.
We must be creative to find new ways to feel connected. Here are seven virtual engagement activities for connection that we’ve found work well:
- Use video whenever you can for online meetings. It helps to see the faces and have that non-verbal communication come through. Our non-verbal communication is 55% while tone of voice is 38% and spoken word is only 7% of our communication.
- Call someone just to see how they are doing. So much of our communication is written these days via email and messages. Calling someone the “old fashioned” way using the telephone is becoming rare, so it actually stands out. It’s a great way to show you care.
- Send an appreciation email each morning to someone new. One of our first activities is often checking emails. Before you dive into them, write a short 2-3 sentence email showing your gratitude and appreciation for someone—for no reason other than to show how you feel. If you create a habit of this, you may be surprised at how much you get out of this activity yourself! Be prepared to receive wonderful emails back!
- Volunteer your time to a cause you want to support. It doesn’t need to be physical during these times but giving to others (contribution) will not only support those in need but it will make you feel wonderful for doing something nice for someone else. Be creative on how you can support; besides just donating money—be active!
- Be a Secret Santa at work. You can do nice things for co-workers in stealth mode, so they receive without knowing who is behind it. This is always fun as you can see their joy and wonder as to who is doing nice things for them.
- Have a virtual dinner together. Everyone can have the same ingredients and cook the same meal at the same time. Make it a little competition and determine who wins based on the presentation of the meal. Then sit down and enjoy the meal together. (Garry Ridge shared his managers have been doing this and it’s been a hit in their company.)
- Virtual coffee breaks. Take a coffee break online with a colleague in a different department of your company. This is a great way to connect people who might not otherwise have a chance to chat. You can learn a lot about each other in 15 or 20 minutes and it’s a good break from non-stop meetings.
The last note for this virtual working is be aware of screen fatigue. Make sure you schedule time between meetings so you can take care of yourself. Try to have a view of something from your computer and if you don’t have a view out your window, then have a poster, picture or calendar of nature scenes nearby to rest your eyes.
We will have a world where we will be able to connect physically again, shake hands and hug. But for now, we will make the best of it. And just remember how much we’ve learned and grown during 2020. We can take those lessons and turn it into something good for the future!