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Working Remote: 4 Keys Of Happiness & Productivity From An Expert

Tia Graham
Contributing writer By Tia Graham
Contributing writer
Tia Graham is a happiness expert and founder of Arrive At Happy. She graduated from The University of Hawaii and has a certificate in Happiness Studies and a Certificate in Teaching Happiness from Harvard’s Tal Ben-Shahar and The Happiness Studies Academy. She works with companies such as Goldman Sachs, Hilton Hotels and Kashi.
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It has been 13 months since we have all adjusted to working virtually—and for many of us, we're still doing it. In fact, a recent survey from Gallup found that 56% of workers were still working remotely "all of the time" or at least "a majority of the time." Yes, working from home does have some perks—including no commute, more family time, and the ability to get housework done on breaks—yet, team leaders and members are struggling to feel connected and are tired of days filled with Zoom calls

In the office, human connection is the No. 1 driver of happiness—no wonder this year has been challenging! Human connection means spending time with people that you care about and who care about you. In the workplace, this means having healthy and connected relationships with your boss, peers, and direct reports. In Gallup's Q12 employee satisfaction survey, how people answered "I have a best friend at work" directly related to the success of the organization. 

Knowing how important team connection is, here are four strategies to grow your team connection right now:

1. Set it as a priority.

Leaders, managers, and employees have a never-ending to-do list and are constantly battling their inbox, messaging apps, personal priorities, and workload. Team connection is not usually on the official task list, yet it is as important as completing work goals. Leaders can put a "Team Connection" reminder in their weekly calendar to ensure they are thinking about it regularly and planning for opportunities to bring the team together. 

The leader does not need to be the only person responsible for the organization of connecting events and activities. Someone on the team can be selected to work with the leader or create a team committee whose sole focus is to ensure that everyone feels connected. Review the success and challenges of team connection on a monthly and quarterly basis, and adjust when needed. 

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2. Encourage having cameras on at least once a week. 

Yes, being on-camera all day every day can be tiring and draining for employees. (So understanding the balance between cameras on and cameras off is key.) But the goal of this strategy is for people to communicate with each other using nonverbal communication. Body language and laughing together are lost when a team is using audio-only. 

I suggest making sure that your team "sees" one another at least once per week to feel the essence of the team. One-on-one meetings are for coaching, feedback, motivation, and professional development. An employee will feel more connected to their boss when they can see them. Schedule fun and humorous activities to relieve stress and have people feel as if they were hanging out together—do a question of the day, do stress-relieving activities during happy hour, celebrate wins and achievements regularly. 

3. Be a well-being champion.

Go beyond wellness as a leader, and set a healthy example of holistic well-being for your team. Not only will this decrease stress, but it will also boost productivity, creativity, collaboration, and engagement while employees are working! Leaders need to think about how they are supporting their employees' physical, intellectual, and emotional well-being. When overall happiness is a priority for the team, the team will be stronger and more connected. 

Leaders can do this by forming a book club, encouraging people to take walking meetings, giving half-days, having meditations and yoga sessions, bringing in educational and motivational speakers, and being vulnerable and transparent about their challenging emotions. 

4. Communicate meaning.

The No. 1 motivator for employees globally is progress in meaningful work. Leaders can connect their teams by consistently communicating the purpose of their organization. Employees usually learn about this when they are on-boarding, and it may not be talked about very often after that point. Managers must remind and inspire people with the organization's story, why it exists, and how their work contributes. People do not think about why their individual work matters daily, and it is up to the leader to motivate them by communicating this. A team will feel more connected when they are talking about the impact they are making and how they are helping people.

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The takeaway. 

Even though many of us are still apart, we can feel connected to our teams and companies. I challenge the leaders to make this a priority and positively affect every employee.

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