Thriving Digital Connections: Reconnect With Your Team

We created the Thriving Digital Connections series to share with you the latest tech tips and tools that help us build, grow, and enrich the many threads that make the tapestry of our digital life. After taking a look at how to enrich connection by sending great newsletters, setting up healthy online habits, and refreshing your nonprofit’s online presence, today we turn to another fundamental aspect of a thriving digital life: (re)connecting with your team members.


Making Decisions as a Team 

While most of us have, by now, mastered the art of the remote meeting, the equally fine art of making decisions as a group may still require some fine-tuning. For many nonprofits, the past year has brought a number of challenges and urgent decisions requiring a level of comfort with holding space for dialogue that most of us still more readily associate with in-person communication. At the same time, workplaces have been permanently changed by the pandemic, so finding new ways to facilitate meaningful exchange, show care, and nurture participatory input is more important than ever. In this section, we highlight a number of tools designed to make decision-making as a team more inclusive and streamlined for all:
 

LOOMIO: Loomio is an open source platform built and maintained by a worker-owned cooperative based in New Zealand. In their words, “Loomio exists to make it easy for anyone, anywhere, to participate in decisions that affect their lives.” For teams, this means that people can participate from anywhere on the web (including via email and mobile) to contribute to group discussions, vote on proposals, rank team or project priorities, keep track of tasks, request volunteer help and more.

 


 

COBUDGET: Part of the Enspiral Network, the same collective behind Loomio, CoBudget makes it easy for organizations and groups to allocate funds collaboratively and transparently. If your team is interested in building more collaborative and inclusive resource allocation processes, CoBudget makes it easy to set up a system for every type of user, from the beginner to the more advanced. Through the platform, your team will be able to “run truly participatory internal innovation programs and call-for-proposals, catalyze employee/member engagement by enabling them to propose projects and allocate resources to them and create more participation and transparency” in your organization’s financial and budgeting processes.

MIRO: Looking for new ways to brainstorm, collaborate on projects, share feedback, and streamline your remote working processes? Miro is an online collaborative whiteboard platform designed to bring teams together––whether that’s through more interactive and engaging meetings or the ability to centralize your team’s distributed workflows. Its impressive suite of features also integrate with popular platforms like Slack and Google Drive to supercharge your collaboration. 

 

Nurturing Team Mindfulness 

In addition to bringing a fresh perspective to collaborative decision-making, (re)connecting with your teammates may also require a new approach to wellbeing, work-life balance, and stress management. To help prevent burnout, the folks over at Headspace have put together a free collection of mindfulness resources to help you guide and support your team’s mental health through this global crisis. Their employer toolkit includes resources such as the working (and parenting) from home guide and mindfully transitioning to a WFH culture.

If you’re a Microsoft Teams user, the company recently announced  new features in both Teams and Outlook to help coworkers with their wellbeing and productivity. Features include a virtual commute experience for better work- and home-life transitions as well as integration with Headspace to track mindfulness and wellbeing analytics.


Based in Australia, the Smiling Mind app is a nonprofit platform trusted by hundreds of globally leading organisations for its evidence-based approach to nurturing team mindfulness. Their platform offers a range of resources spanning Mindfulness & Meditation Training to tools to support workplace culture.


Lastly, if you find that working from home during the pandemic has impacted your ability to focus, you and your team could consider a joint challenge through the use of tools like Forest app, which helps you reclaim uninterrupted focused time alone or in groups––with fun incentives like rewards that lead to planting real-life trees in partnership with Trees for the Future.

For more ideas on how to build healthier online habits, be sure to check our other recent article in the series!



Showing Appreciation 

Since many of us will be telecommuting for a while longer, finding a way to show appreciation remotely is a great way to ensure that colleagues feel seen and supported by their teammates. Appreciation has been shown to reduce stress levels, prevent burnout, and increase a sense of belonging and connection among teams.  

If you are an Asana user, the platform has recently launched a feature that lets you celebrate coworkers directly on the platform. If your organization is looking for a dedicated tool through which to cheer on employees and volunteers, the following platforms may be just right for you:

  • Nectar enables every team member (peer to peer & manager to employees alike) to send meaningful recognition rooted in shared values. The platform integrates with Slack, Teams, and others to increase engagement and make recognition easier than ever. Bonus: Nectar also allows you to incorporate wellness initiatives or challenges that reward employees for participating. 

  • Fond’s platform features a social feed that can be accessed from any device, supporting virtual recognition for diverse teams based anywhere in the world. Through Fond, users have access to a broad catalogue of rewards as well as exclusive discounts for those looking to add a tangible token of appreciation alongside words of cheer. 

  • Snappy is a virtual gift-giving platform that allows recipients to choose from a vast catalog of rewards. The platform can accommodate peer-to-peer gifting, bulk gift sends, virtual gifts, and lots more. 

  • Go Local: If you’re looking for other ways to show your appreciation, consider supporting local businesses by arranging for a gift card or delivery from small businesses in your area. A handwritten note sent in the mail goes a long way, too!
     

Stay Inspired 

If working remotely across a distributed team has you stuck in the same routine day in and day out, starting a group activity is another great way to shake things up while bonding with your coworkers. Popular options include book clubs, recipe exchanges, virtual happy hours, and hobby-based ‘mixers’. However, there are other ways to combine work and play! 

If you’re looking for a way to motivate yourself and others around day-to-day work, try connecting your team through the Wunderlist app. Its clean interface makes it easy to create and organize essential lists, set due dates and reminders and share them with colleagues to collaborate on projects, campaigns or individual tasks. For a bit of extra fun, you could consider creating a challenge and reward individuals or teams whenever they reach an important milestone. 

If you’re looking to expand your horizons, card-based resources like MethodKit and Beautiful Trouble’s Strategy Cards are a great way to grow your changemaking skills while promoting learning. You can turn continuing education into a team-based activity (or game!) by discussing inspiring stories and/or studying best practices from all over the world through platforms like Beautiful Trouble’s story repository, the Solutions Journalism database and MobLab’s team building and organizing resource hub.

Looking for support connecting with your team at the intersection of organizational and personal change? Greaterthan supports teams interested in creating, scaling and transitioning to new organisational forms, such as self-managing organisations, decentralized networks and practice-based communities. Their toolbox of articles, books, tools, templates and practices is free to use under a Creative Commons license!

 

Further Reading

  • A collection of real stories and tools from the front lines of the future of working together. (Enspiral

  • Feedback Circles (The Wildfire Project)

  • Roundtable: How three nonprofits are building collaborative, remote workplaces (Asana)

  • Virtual Crossing Lines: Anti-Oppression Dialogue Facilitation (SeaChange Collective)

  • How to recognize coworkers for a job well done (Slack)

  • How to get started with employee recognition (Human Resources Today)


 

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