After our team went fully remote, I really struggled with the lack of camaraderie and serendipitous team-building that usually comes with being in the office. This started to take a toll on how I was able to relate to, and engage with, my team. I learned that it’s important to be intentional about creating opportunities for non-transactional interactions because they can help you build trust and figure out when someone is struggling – especially when you have a new joiner in the team.
Here’s how my team starts and ends every day to ensure that we create space for building relationships in a fun and intentional way.
Shortly after we started working remotely, my team had a new lead join, and we formed a brand new team of three individuals. While we spent a good amount of time getting acquainted, we quickly realised that the only interactions we had were relating to work – for example, we only really chatted during standup, planning and when communicating around any big concerns.
The problem with this, was that these kinds of transactional interactions made it hard to:
- Learn more about our new team member, and for her to learn more about us
- Build mutual trust, and
- Gain an understanding about the support our team needed from a non-work perspective
Realising that this could lead to more long-term issues, we decided that we needed to be more intentional in creating non-transactional touch points between us.
So, we started implementing short, daily challenges that would encourage us to talk about more ‘human’ topics, like those that would naturally come up when working together in the same office space.
Setting up the daily challenges
To start the daily challenges, I raised my thoughts with my team during our weekly planning meeting, and asked them if we could test having short, daily challenges that we all contributed to. We decided to set them up was as follows:
- Each day, one member of the team poses a question at the end of standup for the team to think about and prepare an answer for.
- At our end of daily sync-ups, we each take turns answering the question.
Some of the questions that we have used so far:
- Who is your hero and why?
- Bring a passage from your favourite book and explain why it’s so special to you.
- What memory never fails to make you smile/laugh?
- Who/what was your first love and why?
- Who is your favourite school teacher and why?
Impact on our team
We’ve been using these challenges as a way to connect more authentically for two weeks now, and it is currently my favourite part of every day because we get to:
- Learn more about each other as individuals
- Find out how we’re coping with the stresses of everyday life during a pandemic
- Build trust because we know we have real people backing us, and
- Most importantly, have a much needed daily laugh (and often a happy dance too)
Overall, I’m a lot happier that I get to connect with my team in an authentic way every day, and it has helped build the foundation for a trusting working relationship between all of us.