We recently shared 3 easy steps to managing virtual teams, and now we’re adding the secret sauce; that finishing touch to making global teams work. We’ve discovered five essential ingredients that help your global teams thrive, by making remote work much more enjoyable!

While having the right work from home platform is essential for improving team collaboration and productivity, acknowledging employees’ individual needs within that platform outside of their work roles is just as important.

Employees have different personalities and with that individual preferences, interests and workstyles. It’s crucial, especially in global teams, to have a versatile platform that offers virtual spaces where employees can share more about themselves and feel comfortable when working.

When you’re working inside an office, it’s easy to run into a colleague at the watercooler, swing by someone’s office or catch up in the lunchroom. It’s almost effortless to build positive relationships when you have multiple opportunities for informal interactions every day. It’s different when you manage employees who are solely interacting with each other online. It’s much easier to “skip the small talk” and get right to it and sometimes avoid any interaction altogether. Yet, it is those casual conversations that are key to building global teams that work.

For this reason, we’re sharing our secret sauce with 5 essential and fun ingredients to help your global team thrive!

1. Customized profiles

Having the option to add a bit of personality to online work profiles is super beneficial to global teams. When employees customize their profiles, they  share a little bit more about who they are and what they like. They become more approachable, and they also feel like their personalities and needs have a place.

Working remotely might make us feel like faceless avatars and electronic-sounding voices. Customize your profile and you  can partially replace the subtle human interactions that would take place when meeting: facial expressions, body language, direct eye contact, friendly gestures, and small talk. This can help employees feel closer to each other, even while working remotely.

Global teamwork: virtual coffee

2. One-on-one virtual coffee dates

Scheduling one-on-one time between colleagues for the purpose of building relationships is a must. After all, good relationships build a strong team, and a strong team grows and succeeds together. When working remotely, a team member might become isolated from the team, and people might rush off after calls to get more work done. Scheduling coffee dates helps bridge those gaps. In addition, these dates help relieve stress employees might be holding on to from working remotely.

With a customizable profile, employees can add a conversation starter section such as, “You can ask me about _____,” and include 3-5 things they’d be happy to discuss. This information becomes useful for when their virtual coffee date comes around to help them start building those more intimate connections!

3. Fun discussion threads

Pre-set some discussion threads such as #watercooler to help get your employees started. Engage some of your employees in the pre-set threads that focus on interesting ideas and topics, and encourage them to start threads of their own.

Just like with the coffee dates, this is an important tool for building personal team relationships and for creating a fun and friendly work environment.

4. Personal announcements

Did Sarah get married? Did John recently have his 50th birthday? Internal newsletters are great in general, but when you include employees’ personal announcements, it builds deeper connections and takes your global team culture to a whole other level. Personal announcements ensure employees are seen, and that they matter as a whole person — not only because of what they contribute to work. This works the same for remote teams.

Share these announcements across any channel: newsletters, company chats, mobile phone groups, etc. If you can, include a small token of appreciation like also sending over a bouquet of flowers or some chocolate. Most employees love this – and they may even post a photo of the gift in a company communication channel, adding to a culture of appreciation and employee engagement.

5. Emojis & gifs!

At monday.com, we love them! Emojis and gifs are a great way to express your individuality and they add a little spice to any casual conversation. They also make the “formal” text writing feel more “informal”, creating closeness between the remote employees and encouraging more connection and collaboration.

We hope these fun tips will make remote work more fun and cozy for your team. Please reshare and add any additional tips you might have.