5 Ways to Stay Grounded and Find Connection with Your Virtual Team

When news of the pandemic hit, Feedonomics made a quick transition to close our offices and resume operations with a remote workforce. Everybody’s safety was priority number one, and keeping our teams at home has allowed us to accomplish that. However, there are other challenges that remote workers face, including feelings of isolation and uncertainty, especially now in the midst of a global pandemic.

At Feedonomics, our company culture is about fostering community and creating an environment where we support each other. Maintaining that culture during a period of upheaval requires dedication, plus an acknowledgment of the challenges that we’re each facing in our lives. In addition to concerns for our health and our loved ones, many workers around the world are experiencing “Zoom fatigue,” loneliness, boredom, work-life balance struggles, anxiety, and doubts about the future. It can be difficult to feel grounded every day.

To help us find our center and connect as a team, we asked Romy Solomon, a certified experiential learning trainer, facilitator, and consultant to guide us through an interactive workshop at the latest virtual all-hands meeting. Solomon specializes in helping “develop individual emotional intelligence as well as holistic team well-being” through engagement in group activities.

Check out the video at the end of this post to see highlights from our workshop.

By the end of the meeting, our team felt rejuvenated and more aware of our common humanity.

To conclude the workshop, Solomon asked us, “What action are you compelled to take moving forward?”

Here are some of the comments that stuck out to us:

  • “Listen to other people rather than just talk about myself. Hear people as they are!”
  • “Remember that the person in front of me wants to be loved just like me.”
  • “Be aware of my own needs and fulfill them.”

After the workshop, we reached out to Solomon and asked if she could share any additional tips for staying grounded and finding that sense of connection with a virtual team.

Solomon supplied us with a generous selection of valuable advice that could benefit anybody looking for ways to feel more engaged and less anxious throughout the work day:

Take a moment to arrive.

Whether this is something you do privately right before you click “join” on Zoom, or you facilitate for the group at the start of the meeting… take a mindful moment to arrive. We are all jumping between virtual meetings and it can leave us feeling drained and not engaged. A simple act of inviting everyone to close their eyes and do some mindful breathing (even just three deep breaths) can have a powerful impact at the start of a meeting. This exercise helps you shift your energy and get in touch with yourself, which often results in better engagement and contributions in your work meeting.

Check in with your team.

In “Permission to Feel,” Marc Brackett (research psychologist and Founding Director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence) writes, “It is one of the great paradoxes of the human condition—we ask some variation of the question, ‘How are you feeling?’ over and over, which would lead one to assume that we attach some importance to it yet we never expect or desire—or provide—an honest answer.”

“How are you?” is often used as a replacement for “Hello!” We often don’t expect an honest answer, nor provide one ourselves. If you ask someone how they are doing, be sure to signal that you are expecting an honest answer. PAUSE. Take time to listen, look into the camera so it appears you are looking into their eyes, and really try to understand how the people around you are feeling these days.

People may be suffering in silence, especially as they continue adapting to remote work, supporting family and friends that may be ill or recovering, and navigating financial obstacles. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to dedicate some work time to truly check in with your coworkers and offer support. Liz Fosslein and Mollie West Duffy, authors of the Wall Street Journal bestselling book, “No Hard Feelings,” recommend these questions to ask instead of “How are you?”

  • How can I/we/our team best show up for you right now?
  • What’s changed for you or your family this past week?
  • What kind of flexibility do you need right now?
  • What’s one thing I can do right now to better support you?
  • How are you investing in your resilience right now? How can I support that?

Show up with compassion and empathy, not judgement.

We are all managing the pandemic in our own way, and to the best of our abilities. Even if we may not agree with all of the actions of those around us, it is important that we show up with compassion and kindness. It’s like that old adage, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” Give your teammates the benefit of the doubt. Don’t jump to assumptions. Move out of judgement and move towards grace and empathy for others.

The same goes for yourself. Show yourself compassion. The next time you make a mistake or disappoint yourself, ask yourself, “What would I say to my best friend in this situation?” And tell it to yourself instead.

Create an “It’s OK to…” List

What do you want to give yourself and your team permission to do?

This pandemic and our shift to remote work has caused many companies to adjust their cultural norms. Yet, without clear communication, it can cause confusion and doubt within a team, especially one that is spread out around the world.

Giles Turnbull, a writer at the UK Government Digital Service, came up with the great idea to collectively create a list of things it’s OK to do (and not do) at work. Turnbull wanted to emphasize to new team members at the organization that it was always OK to say “I don’t know,” depend on the team, have off days, and more. He encouraged his colleagues to add their ideas to a collective list and then designed posters that were hung all over the office. Co-creating a company-wide “It’s OK to…” list on Google Docs and then posting it on Slack can be a nice and friendly reminder to give your team and yourself permission to feel.

Express Gratitude.

Gratitude is what I like to call the quick mind-hack to happiness. The more we share our gratitude with others—even for small things—the more we boost their mood, and ours as well. Don’t forget to show appreciation to your colleagues for the big and small things they are contributing to your team. We often only recognize people for big wins and record-breaking achievements. We forget to communicate genuine appreciation to a colleague for the “everyday” efforts, even when we recognize it. However, it’s selfish to keep our gratitude to ourselves when we can easily boost morale and motivation at work (ours and others) by expressing genuine thanks. Taking a moment to recognize your colleagues and their actions can prove impactful and contagious.

About Romy Alexandra Solomon

Romy Alexandra Solomon is a certified experiential learning trainer, facilitator, and consultant. Solomon has implemented 1,000 hours of experiential workshops to more than 3,000 professionals and youth in 20 countries across four continents. She has worked with clients such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Points of Lights, Carol Cone on Purpose, Brown University, the Red Cross, and many more.

Solomon is passionate about designing and delivering impactful, experiential workshops that empower individuals to integrate emotional intelligence and personal leadership into their daily lives. She created “The Call to Connection,” an international online community, as a way to foster more connection, emotional intelligence, and belonging online, during these times of social distancing.

You can contact Solomon for an experiential workshop for your group.

Highlights from our team meeting with Romy

Our company culture is a big part of how we empower each other to reach our goals. To see more tips for a healthy mindset, check out the recent presentation from guest speaker Robert Paylor. Feed on!