The Power of Rituals in Connecting Remote Teams


Those of us who work and lead in the remote-first, virtual world are fortunate enough to know the pros. We have access to the world’s best talent, the flexibility to do our best work asynchronously, and more time with the ones we love (less time wasted in traffic and freedom to work anywhere). There is, of course, a list of cons: at the top of this list, loneliness. 

Our remote first makes it more difficult to organically create office culture. For remote and distributed teams, employee engagement opportunities no longer occur naturally; leaders have to thoughtfully invest time in connectivity strategies.

Enter: rituals.

When thinking about rituals, Casper ter Kuile, author of “The Power of Ritual” encourages readers to reflect on meaningful practices that exist outside of our awareness, back into our awareness. 

In remote and distributed workplaces, this means considering important rituals that used to occur in the in-person office, and trying to recreate the same effect virtually.

For example: a ritual we had in the office was centered around brewing our office coffee pot. It was a shared responsibility. Each morning someone different brewed coffee (as it turns out, getting caffeinated is an across-departmental need for high performing teams). The coffee pot became just one place where we broke down company silos without even thinking about it. We chatted as we poured, learning about each other and becoming more connected every day at what served as our company watering hole. 

So, what does the virtual coffee pot look like? 

As we think about rituals for our remote team it’s important to review how our teams work. We know it’s easy to exhaust our teams in endless online meetings (Zoom Fatigue is so prevalent it now has its own Wikipedia page) but we also know that face time with each other is important. How do we find a balance? 

Annie Dean, a remote work expert and Head of Atlassian Team Anywhere, discusses the opportunities introduced by the distributed workforce and how she views the future of work. She shares which virtual meetings you should keep and which meetings you should cancel: keep synchronized meetings that initiate, ideate, converge, or connect, and cancel the rest. Status update meetings and readouts can all be done asynchronously. 

At twine we’ve taken this recommendation to heart and introduced a new ritual to our team: we use our own app, twine for Zoom, at every company meeting larger than ten people.

twine’s virtual speed networking mode recreates those coffee pot conversations by pairing us in 1:1 or small group conversations. As a result of this ritual I look forward to our Monday all hands– oddly, it’s my favorite meeting of the week. I know I’ll get to connect with a few colleagues in a more intimate setting as I ease into the work week. From the leadership side, this isn’t a huge lift. In a few quick clicks the entire company is meeting with each other, creating a virtual pre meeting office buzz. 

What ritual was meaningful for your in-person teams, and how can you try to recreate those virtually?

A simple, yet effective, way to help your team is to make twine one of your meeting rituals. I promise you’ll notice a difference in team morale. Try it free!

Written by Lawrence Coburn, CEO and Co-Founder
Zola Zermeño

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