During a time of uncertainty, working from home, and lack of face-to-face interaction, Zoom—or other video conferencing programs—has been a saving grace for many corporate teams around the globe. In this Zoom 101 series, we are taking a look at how interpersonal communication has ebbed and flowed at Dot and how employees use Zoom as a tool to stay connected.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there were already a handful of Dot Foods remote employees relying on Zoom full-time as they completed their work far away from any of our locations. District Sales Manager Matt McPherson, for example, now heavily relies on Zoom to stay connected ever since he moved to Austin, Texas, with his fiancée.
Using technology like Zoom helps remote employees stay up-to-date with office changes, new employees joining the team, and more. It allows employees to talk “face-to-face” versus only communicating over email or instant messaging.
For Matt, a big part of working remotely is navigating how he can continue building upon relationships that are now long-distance.
“Zoom has been vital since I started working remotely,” said Matt. “Especially with keeping internal connections.”
Plus, as a visual learner, Matt heavily relies on visual cues during conversations to gauge how the other person is feeling.
“Being able to talk with someone over Zoom—especially when it comes to picking up on body language and nonverbal cues—makes me feel like I can connect with someone better, even while working remotely,” said Matt.
Suggestions for Staying Connected to the Office from Remote Employees
As a remote employee, one of the most challenging parts of the job can be staying connected with your co-workers and your team. Not only are you unable to have face-to-face conversations, but there is also a lack of networking abilities.
Here are some tips from Matt and Corporate Content Writer Savannah Riese on how they recommend new remote employees stay connected with their peers without seeing them in person.
Schedule Quick Zoom Conversations with Co-workers
“One of the best ways to stay connected with your co-workers and to create new relationships with employees who aren’t on your team is to grab 20 minutes on their calendar to chat via Zoom,” said Savannah.
“Ask them what they’re working on, if their team has experienced any major changes, or if they have faced any big challenges lately.”
But you want to make sure that you are still networking and that the conversation is a two-way street.
“Be sure to also tell them what you’ve been working on and how your team fits into the big picture at your company,” said Savannah. “Especially if you are meeting with someone from a different team or area of the business.”
Join Office Resource Groups or Clubs
Matt was a part of the Young Professionals Employee Resource Group (ERG) at Dot Foods St. Louis before moving to Austin. Once he found out he was moving, he wanted to be sure he stayed connected with the group. So, they made him in charge of recruiting more remote employees to join the group, as well as adding another perspective to the leadership team regarding remote employee relations.
Matt convinced Savannah to join in on the fun, too! Now Savannah is a member of the Young Professionals ERG and participates in the seminars, discussions, and events virtually via Zoom.
Start an Office Book Club that Includes Remote Employees
Another suggestion Matt and Savannah had: Encourage an office book club if there isn’t one already! If your office does have a book club, ask if they can be more inclusive to remote employees and host the discussions over Zoom.
Savannah is a part of the book club for Dot’s St. Louis office and she says it has allowed her to connect with co-workers she otherwise wouldn’t be interacting with regularly.
“When I was brainstorming ways to be more connected to the office with my manager, we came up with the idea of having me join the office book club,” said Savannah. “I love to read and so this seemed like a perfect opportunity to integrate myself into more office activities, even though I live hundreds of miles away from the office.”
It also allowed Savannah to connect with remote employees who live in other corners of the country in places such as California and North Carolina.
Plan Zoom Lunches or Happy Hours
If you’re not in the office very often, you don’t always get the opportunity to catch up with your co-workers on personal life topics. If you are looking for that connection, ask some of your teammates to have a virtual lunch hour.
Lunch isn’t your jam? You could try scheduling a 30-minute or 1-hour Friday happy hour over Zoom. Everyone can grab a cocktail, tea, coffee, or any other beverage of choice and spend some time catching up and chatting about the week.
Overall, there is a lot of technology out there that remote employees can use to stay connected to their team and co-workers. The key is knowing how to take advantage of those resources to optimize your remote working experience.