Making time to get to know, develop and show appreciation for your team is incredibly powerful and motivating. When people are valued and respected, they feel masterful and purpose-driven; both key elements of a high-performance team.

This is even more important for virtual teams, including those who may be new to working remotely and are doing so as part of the effort to “stay home and stay safe”.

Of course, not all workplaces or industries are able to offer this option but it has certainly become the norm for many. And despite all the benefits associated with working from home, it can also lead to teams who feel somewhat disconnected from each other and team members who feel lonely.

Here are 3 tips to help you stay connected with teammates while working from home.

1. Take a few minutes at the beginning of meetings for casual conversation, as you typically would in the office. Seemingly idle chit chat is not only healthy but it is also a productive and meaningful contributor to our satisfaction at work. It promotes team bonding, makes leaders appear more approachable and it can offer a reprieve from high-pressure situations.

2. If you’re missing the day-to-day connections like chatting in the hallway or at the water cooler, you can still keep this up. Some organizations use a group chat throughout the day to share pictures, stories, memes, etc. This helps with team bonding and allows an opportunity for people to get to know each other outside of work, which is vital to a high-performance team.

Of course, we still want to maintain the balance between our “chat” time and our focus work. I wouldn’t recommend keeping the group chat open all day, just as I wouldn’t recommend keeping your inbox open all day. But you can schedule time to check in and re-connect with your colleagues in the group chat, as you would in the office.

3. Now is a great time to set up standing “office hours”. This type of recurring appointment helps everyone stay in touch and provides a regular time slot for catching up on items that may not warrant an email or a standalone meeting but do need to be addressed. This also gives team members a chance to connect at regularly scheduled intervals and engage with other colleagues they may not otherwise have an opportunity to meet with.

We use office hours at Clear Concept, where we have always been a remote team, and we find this highly effective. What may have been four or five emails often gets resolved in a five-minute chat. And we get to see each other at the same time!

Yes, we’re all feeling stretched thin. It can be challenging to make time for these types of activities. But ask yourself what is the cost of not strengthening connections across your team? How will a lack of motivation affect the performance of your team as a whole?

Over the last few years, many workplaces have made great strides in recognizing and supporting the importance of mental health. We don’t want to lose this momentum.

Considering these factors may help to justify the valuable investment of your time.

We are all in this together and we need to keep the conversation going. What’s working for you and your team?