The social interaction many people get from going into the office is something that is taken for granted until you move into remote work. Many people don’t realize how often they interact face-to-face with coworkers in the office. You might swing by a friend at work’s office to say “Hi” on your way to grab a cup of coffee, or go to ask a question, but stay for a bit of casual conversation. Social interaction is key to having happy and healthy employees, a low stress work environment and more engaged workers, according to Forbes. Once you start working from home, these chance encounters for social interaction decrease.

How to Provide Social Interaction in Remote Work

It’s key that you bake in social interaction to your daily accounts receivable work. Without it, productivity might decrease from employee burn out. We’ve included a few easy ways to increase social interaction, despite distance created from remote work, in your collections work.

Watercooler Talk

Give your team a general area to interact that doesn’t have to do with work. This could be done using Slack or Microsoft Teams and designated a channel to random thoughts. Employees can share articles, life stories or other lighthearted thoughts that they would typically share by the watercooler. This allows your employees to keep in touch and get to know each other outside the confines of shop talk.

Adjust Your Meeting Agenda

Instead of jumping straight into your next online meeting, give your team a few minutes to catch up with each other. Make a point to ask each of your team members how life is going. Even if this takes 5 minutes of time at the beginning of every meeting, it gives your team a chance to get to know each other on a different level. When comradery is fostered on your collections team, you will see the team work better together, share tips and enjoy getting together for the meetings.

This is a great technique to encourage with customers, as well. The better you get to know your customers, the more likely they will put you at the top of their list of payables. Take the time to ask how your customers are doing, get to know them on a personal level and remember details you can ask them about before you start your next collection call.

Encourage Video

Encourage all your team members to keep their video on during team meetings. This provides a level of social interaction because you can meet “face-to-face”, despite working remotely. Even if you only do a required video meeting once a week, it will help give your remote employees a sense of social interaction. One of our customers explained that she Facetimes with her teammate to work out collection issues, “Its kind of nice seeing their face since you miss the social interaction of the office”.

Using video during meetings is beneficial, as well, to ensure your team members are giving you their full focus. It can be hard for remote employees to “turn off” during meetings when they’re getting email notifications the entire time. When everyone is encouraged to use video, it helps the team to stay focused because it will be clear who is not giving their full attention to the meeting.

Schedule Virtual Happy Hours or Lunch and Learns

When everyone is located in one place at the office, it allows for a quick and easy way to all come together and enjoy some non-work activities that bring the team together. This doesn’t have to stop when you’re working remotely. Try scheduling a virtual happy hour on a Friday afternoon when everyone hops in an online meeting, turns on their video, enjoys a drink of their choice and gets to know each other a little better. You can even keep these accounts receivable focused by scheduling a virtual lunch and learn. Schedule the meeting over the lunch hour and encourage everyone to enjoy their lunch together over an online meeting. After a half hour lunch break, spend the next half hour covering a new educational topic for collection techniques.

Just because you are moving to a work from home model, doesn’t mean the social part of the office has to completely disappear. There are numerous ways you can continue to foster comradery in the accounts receivable department, which will lead to happier employees and increased productivity. Taking advantage of tools for video chat and chat communities are key to a successful accounts receivable team.

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