September 15, 2021

Video conferencing: how to break the ice remotely?

Intercultural Communication

In a world of work that has become hybrid, videoconferencing has become part of our daily lives. But it poses challenges for the teams that evolve in this new context. How to create and maintain the link to work better at a distance?

Video conferencing: how to break the ice remotely?

Remote work has many advantages: less travel, more flexibility and family time, less disruption from colleagues. But it also poses challenges for teams that choose (or are forced) to work in this new context. How can we avoid seeing interactions reduced to the coldness of a conversation via a screen? How to maintain the link, create and maintain cohesion ... or simply know each other better when working remotely? The first minutes of a videoconference are often decisive.

Leading a team from a distance has become one of the biggest headaches managers face, especially if this spatial distance also implies a cultural, temporal or emotional distance. Without body language, it is not easy to detect disagreements, demotivation or simply a change of mood. And since (according to Winston Churchill) you can't improvise a successful improvisation, it is necessary to formalize the informal. It is necessary to reinvent a way of creating opportunities to talk to each other in a different way, to detect dysfunctions and above all to adjust!

Here are three simple and effective tools to start your remote meetings.

Icebreaker 1: the team's weather

The distance between teams can make it difficult to detect situations of work overload or threats to the psychological health of employees. Asking your colleagues before a meeting what their inner weather is allows you to be interested in their moods... or to access information about their context that we do not know. There are several ways to do this. Directly, if you know each other well enough to speak. Otherwise through a survey, for example via collaborative platforms like Wooclap, Klaxoon, Padlet or Mentimeter.

Be careful, this question must be treated authentically: it is not a simple politeness of the type "are you okay? If you do not take into account the "stormy" answers, it will miss its effect. Or worse, it will have the opposite effect. If successful, it can be an opportunity to talk about what puts us in that mood, how we can help, or simply to be more considerate of our colleagues. On the other hand, if the person does not feel like explaining, do not insist, just take it into account.

Icebreaker 2: the triptych: glad, mad, sad…

This is another simple technique to talk about what makes us progress but also what disturbs us in our work. In the classroom, this tool can be enhanced with visual management. Writing on post-it notes what makes us happy, proud, content but also what makes us unhappy or frustrated is a good way to take a picture of teamwork.

Here again, from a distance, you can develop this triptych thanks to the numerous collaborative tools. Better still, others can recognize themselves by "voting" for the contributions that best express their opinions.

Icebreaker 3  : KISS (keep, improve, stop, start)

This classic tool opens up the space to question our team functioning in a constructive and very concrete way. It highlights what works well in the team, allows us to propose solutions for improvement or new ideas, all this while drawing on the collective intelligence to move forward together. It is also an excellent opportunity to abandon actions that do not bring added value to the team or are even harmful. Here again, to accompany the oral exchange, the numerous collaborative platforms allow you to collect the opinions of your teammates to collectively build an action plan.

And if, as a manager, you are short of ideas to offer informal moments to your team, why not put them to work? You are not the only one who knows! Telework is becoming an alternative modality, partial or total. New teamwork practices have yet to be invented, each time demonstrating not only their acceptability and efficiency but also their harmlessness. They often imply changes in the organizations, with more subsidiarity, a more participative management and a new mode of functioning in network.

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