How Online Chats Are The Virtual Glue That Connects Your Team

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Team bonding is a critical component of any successful organization and using online chats for communication can help your team collaborate easily. Not only does team bonding enhance collaboration, it can also support creative commitment and boost productivity.

online chats - work groups - kim beasley - grow visibilityHowever, research shows that having friends at work increase employee satisfaction by 50% — and people who work with a best friend are seven times more likely to be fully engaged with their job. With these types of connections, many are bound to use online chats with those they know.

And while you can try some big, splashy ways to encourage bonding between your team members, like group outings, office parties and so on, there are also some very easy and low-key ways to encourage that esprit de corps daily. Consider how you communicate within the tools you use daily to keep conversations and ideas flowing: text, chat and video calling. Let’s start with texting (and chatting) because in case you haven’t heard…

It’s official: text is our preferred mode of online chats.

Given a choice to hop on a phone call or shoot off a text, which would you rather do?

If you said “text,” you’re not alone – according to a recent report by mobile data tracking firm Infomate, American smartphone users send and receive five times as many texts versus phone calls daily, and they spend about four times as long texting as they do making those calls.

So when it comes to the workplace, it makes sense that what’s most comfortable to your team members, whether they’re remote or sitting a few desks away, is to connect via text versus a phone call. Ditto for team chats. Not only does IM’ing instantly put people at ease, but it also makes room for team members to make more personal connections – which increases the sense of bonding and helps solidify your company’s culture.

Use memes, emojis, and GIFs in texts and online chats to make creative connections.

While you’re texting or maybe in online chats, feel free to swap memes, emojis, and GIFs with your team, as there’s some interesting science behind the mental boost you’ll get (and the bonding that ensues). Abigail Posner, Head of Strategic Planning at Google’s creative think tank for agencies and brands, ZOO, studies how human beings relate to the digital world, and she distils what neuroscientists have proved into a simple explanation of why we love Nyan Cat or a funny GIF from The Office. Synapses, which are the basis of creativity, occur inside the brain when we connect various things – and the more random the connections, the more those synapses fire.

Synapses are firing = a pervasive feeling of creative joy.

In addition to the delight a good GIF can provide, these visual clues give us insight into others’ personalities – for example, you get to know a bit more about your boss when you realize he loves 30 Rock, or discover that Alice in Accounting is into anime or that your client has a dry sense of humor given her obsession with Monty Python gifs.

Selecting just the right meme, emoji or GIF to drop into your text or online chats to communicate your emotions and make that perfect connection with your co-worker helps make work fun – which is a great way to get more done.

Smile on video chat (and in person!) — when you spread happiness, you also support productivity.

There have been countless studies about how smiling is a critical connection builder. Even babies know that while crying gets the attention of their parents, smiling holds it.

So while sharing funny gifs and cracking jokes are great ways to get a grin from a co-worker, actually showing your smiling face on video is an incredibly powerful way to get the best out of others.

Happy people work better together and overall are more creative, motivated, proactive, energetic and optimistic. And even if you’re not smiling, making eye contact and being able to see one another’s body language helps increase understanding, breaks down barriers and strengthens connections.

So in the digital space and the age of visual culture, there is nothing idle about chat. It’s a great way to keep the lines of communication open, foster bonding, ensure that your team’s working well together and is, as much as possible, fully in sync.