Live & Learn
Working Remotely? How to Stay Connected with Your Team.

Even though some Singaporean companies have made a partial return to the office, the Work From Home movement continues. Qualtrics, an experience management company, conducted a Return to Work and Back to Business study and found that six in 10 Singaporeans are wary about returning to physical offices.

If you’ve just been hired for a SGUnited traineeship, chances are you’ll be working completely online for now (or even for the entire duration of your position). It’s easy to feel lost, isolated, or lonely when you’re remote from the very first day, so we’re sharing a few tips to help you feel connected with your team.

Start with the right perspective

We see it all the time on online blogs and influencer social media posts: “Be mindful.”

This statement may seem like a cheesy platitude, but it’s actually very relevant in the world of remote work. A mindful attitude involves going above and beyond to participate in the workplace. This approach can increase your cohesiveness and satisfaction in the workplace.

Pay attention when you’re spoken to, be actively engaged during meetings, and really take the time to absorb new information. You should also be proactive in learning more about your colleagues—you could open their LinkedIn profiles, catch up with the group chats to learn more about their unique personalities. Another tip is to keep a journal of learnings so that you can grow as a trainee and future employee.

One last tip: if you’re feeling confused, take the initiative to ask questions. Many of your new colleagues are busy with their responsibilities and may not realise that you’re feeling lost. Many will be more than happy to support you as long as you communicate your needs effectively.

Read the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for internal communications

Your company likely already has SOPs in place that govern internal communications. They might be in your company handbook, which could contain rules and recommendations such as:

●    When you must be in front of your computer and able to respond, or ”overlap” hours
●    How to update assignments and share new developments with colleagues
●    Who to notify when something urgent happens

Pay attention to onboarding documents when they are shared with you. Take the time to read through each page and to bookmark any important tabs or resources your colleagues share. Remember: these are here to help you get acclimated to complex processes that have been running long before you arrived. It’s your responsibility to catch up and keep up.

Get familiar with your company’s online tools and software

Team collaboration apps like Basecamp and online software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools like Trello are growing even more popular during the pandemic. But online communication platforms aren’t new to COVID-19—they’ve been around for years. 93% of business executives in a 2016 MicKinsey survey said that their teams used at least one social technology to collaborate with one another.

The Blissfully 2020 SaaS Trends Report reveals that, nowadays, some large companies are using nearly 300 different apps to get work done. And mobile data and analytics company App Annie reported that in Singapore, the amount of time spent on business and video-conferencing apps grew nearly four times in Q2 2020 compared to Q1 2019. That’s a lot of new software for you to get acquainted with!

Chances are your own company will ask you to sign up to a handful of different SaaS platforms and download software to your phone and/or computer. Make sure to follow all of their instructions and create logins during onboarding so that you can get “plugged in” ASAP. They will be critical to your success during your traineeship and will be your primary portals for collaborating with team members.

Source: Unsplash

Schedule regular 1:1s with colleagues and fellow trainees

One great way to stay connected with your team is by scheduling one-on-one video calls with colleagues or a mentor at least once a month. It’s easy to miss out on the personal connections when you’re trapped in the humdrum of work. Much of your communication will be centred around clients and deadlines, erasing the rapport and intimacy you’ve built with the team.

These regular one-on-one calls don’t necessarily have to be about work. Though you can certainly ask about fellow trainees’ experiences and share tips and insights, you could also view one-on-ones as an opportunity to connect as individuals. That means casual discussions about your recent accomplishments, a show that you recently enjoyed, or a meal that you cooked at home are all perfectly fine!


Try joining (or suggesting) team game days

When you’re in the office, you can easily schedule game days or pizza parties. You can also spend time with one another after or during the workday by visiting a nearby restaurant or strolling around a park. But when you’re working remotely, spending leisure time together requires a conscious effort.

Planned “fun” sessions over Zoom or Google Meets are a great way to re-acquaint yourself with one another. If enough people are interested and you’ve grown familiar with your colleagues, you could be the one to initiate a regular team game day.

Someone could be in charge of creating fun virtual Bingo cards for everyone to use, or you could even try online karaoke—pick some classic hits, schedule a call, and relax for an hour.

Pay attention to dedicated channels for check-ins and updates

At the office, you can chit-chat before you start the day, or while you’re brewing a cup of coffee. But where does all that small talk go when you’re working from home?

A dedicated check-in channel increases transparency and boosts trust between your teammates. Try and ask your manager if your team has a space to share regular updates and progress. This channel will likely be the most important source of quick information about what other members of your company are doing.

Join the shared calendar

Life goes on in the midst of a pandemic, which means that your colleagues may have doctor appointments, client meetings, and video calls throughout the day. Ask your teammates if they have a shared calendar so you can see when others are and aren’t available.

If you’re scheduling a meeting or session, Google also has a "Find a Time" feature that can help you find suitable times for all meeting attendees. Remember: shared calendars only work if everyone is responsible about updating their calendar, so if you do join one, make sure to always update your availability on the calendar.

Though you may be new to remote work, it’s possible to find success

Plenty of companies around the world have embraced remote work, with many even saying that the future lies in a hybrid model—working from a combination of home, office, and public places. Successfully completing your traineeship with a work-from-home setup will equip you with the skills you need to do well in future roles.

If you’d like to connect with fellow trainees outside of your workplace, you can join the Young NTUC SGUnited Traineeship Network. It’s a great place for you to rub elbows with peers and ease the loneliness that comes with remote work.

You can join our free Facebook group and Telegram channel for regular updates about the latest career fairs, job opportunities and traineeships.