Work Rituals for Remote Work

Communication and Community Resiliency in a Socially Distant Time

“How are you?”

I’ve been asked that more in the past week than in months prior, by friends, family, co-workers, and committee members. It comes with a changed, almost reverent, tone. It’s not the jolly “hey, how are ya?” of a quick greeting. It’s not the light but formal exchange wherein each party asks “how are you?” and no one expects an answer as the whole group gets down to business.

No, this is a moment of genuine pause. A moment of real, human connection in a socially distant time. A moment to check-in in the midst of chaotic headlines and homebound kids squealing in the background and empty store shelves and terrifying numbers and fear and worry. These are rapidly changing, unprecedented times.

“How are you?”

In this “new normal” of Covid-19– however temporary it turns out to be–there’s a rapid evolution of new rituals.

Examples of daily schedules for kids (both the academically rigorous ones and the versions with hefty doses of alcohol for the parents) are floating around social media. Individuals are posting daily images of their garden or their pet or their cooking on their newsfeed to distract from the news. Companies with employees now working remotely are establishing frameworks for maintaining the work week as best as possible. Groups of friends are having virtual brunches or virtual happy hours via Zoom in place of their usual in-person meetups. Physically distant families are having daily group phone calls.

Under usual circumstances, we might call these things routines. The day-to-day activities, the tasks that just need to be done. A ritual is different. A ritual can be those exact same activities, but with a different intention behind the action (not necessarily a religious or spiritual one). Rituals have meaning. Rituals have a deeper purpose.

These daily actions have a new intent behind them: to preserve our emotional health and strengthen our human resilience in a time of great stress, both obvious and latent. Through these new rituals, we are architecting our changed, isolated lives to a framework reminiscent of our prior, communal world. We are trying to feel safe and steady when everything feels like it’s spinning.

At Unitonomy, we believe resiliency is the most important quality a team can develop. Resiliency is what helps you get through the really hard stuff.

Sometimes the “hard stuff” is a particularly challenging project. Sometimes the “hard stuff” is a global pandemic. We know resiliency comes from team members communicating and collaborating with each other, and that the best communication and collaboration happen when individual members feel they can trust the team, that they are emotionally safe with their colleagues.

Work rituals build resilience for remote teams faced with social distancing because of the pandemic. Here are some ideas of new work rituals your team can leverage to foster the bonds that build resilience:

  • Hit the pause button. Pick a time on Friday to hit the pause button as a team and talk about the week. Be vulnerable and talk about your worries, related to work or not. And balance those fears by talking about the things that are going well. Commend colleagues for actions that embody your organization’s values. Celebrate the little “wins” that make things feel less chaotic for a moment.
  • Lunch together, virtually. Pick a day or two for the team to jump on your video conference tool and eat together. Only one rule: you can’t talk about work or any fears related to the pandemic.
  • YouTube happy hour. Pick an end-of-workday moment (before people need to be in family mode). Do this once a week. Have each person grab their drink of choice and (again over a video conference) take turns DJing video from YouTube. Pick a humorous theme and see who can get the most laughs.
  • Townhall. Encourage the CEO to take 30 minutes one morning each week to live stream to the whole company. Make sure 24 hours in advance the CEO asks for questions to respond. This is a chance for real talk.

We’ve designed Unitonomy’s GetCommit system to augment communication inside Slack or Microsoft Teams to cultivate collaboration, especially for those working remotely. GetCommit’s catalog of outcomes allows your team to select the outcomes that you need. Once selected, the outcomes run themselves (you’ve got enough on your plate at the moment) and use research-backed methods to create a cadence of communication within your team. The outcomes foster human connection across digital platforms. They create rituals for collaboration during our new normal. GetCommit helps you build your team’s resiliency.

Just as people are asking “how are you?” with a different tone these days, we know there is new meaning behind your remote work connections with your team. Whether you have been working remotely for years or just started yesterday, the routines surrounding your day-to-day work have become ritual.

Let’s work together better, especially today.

For further reading, we suggest our guide about “How to Improve Remote Work Collaboration” and “Our Favorite Remote Work Tools”

Work rituals build resilience for remote teams
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