8 Ways to Build Workplace Relationships Remotely
Being able to work remotely has opened a lot of doors. Companies can recruit people from all over the world all while saving money on travel and office space. And employees have more freedom to work on flexible schedules, allowing them to achieve a greater work-life balance.
For those reasons, a majority of companies are staying remote. While that comes with significant advantages, it also comes with some challenges — namely building work relationships.
So in this post, we’ll explain why work relationships are especially critical for remote workers and offer eight tips to foster relationships with your remote colleagues.
Why are work relationships important?
Relationships in the workplace have always been important. Fostering a sense of camaraderie among colleagues can improve communication and reinforce a positive culture. Being able to ask others for honest feedback or advice helps you feel reassured at work, giving you greater confidence and a sense of belonging.
Getting to know your boss and other employees at their level can also help you in the long run. When they know about what you’ve accomplished, they can be an advocate for you during the review and promotion cycle.
In a remote world, work relationships are even more crucial. Communication over email or messaging apps can be misconstrued, and people generally don’t feel like they know you as well as other folks they’ve met in person. Whether people like it or not, remote work—in some form or other— is here to stay. So taking proactive steps to cultivate work relationships now will benefit you in the future.
8 ways to build strong relationships remotely
Building relationships is tough, particularly when employees are geographically dispersed. It’s hard to get to know someone strictly via Zoom or Teams. But if the past two years have taught us anything, it’s that there are many ways you can to develop relationships and connect with others virtually. The key is to work through the awkwardness, be open, and approach relationship building with a positive attitude.
- Host events – Throwing a work happy hour or trivia session every once in a while can be a fun, engaging way to interact with coworkers who aren’t on your team. However, I’d suggest keeping your events small – inviting 40 people to a Zoom can be a mess.
- Set up 1:1s with your direct reports or boss – Having a strong relationship with your boss or the people you manage is a big part of creating a healthy, productive work environment. Set up one-on-one meetings where you talk about big goals and how to get there rather than the minutiae of everyday work.
- Reach out to new people – Many companies send out emails or messages to a Slack channel announcing new hires each week. Use that as an opportunity to make a new friend. In most instances they will happy that you reached out directly. Plus you’ll get to learn more about them, what their new role is, and how you can help each other excel.
- Arrange virtual coffee dates – You’re probably out getting tea or coffee or making it at home at some point during the day — even if you’re not at the office. So why not bring a coworker along? Fifteen to twenty minute chats in the morning or afternoon can be a great pick-me-up.
- Pick up the phone when possible – It’s easy to misinterpret someone’s tone over email or instant message. So when you can, try calling your colleague or setting up a video conference instead. Seeing and hearing the other person can go a long way in enhancing your communication. Getting a sense of how they speak and interact will provide insight into their personality, too. This makes it less likely you’ll misunderstand something they write over email or direct message in the future.
- Schedule in-person meetups – Sometimes meeting in person can be a huge help, especially for new joiners. If a bunch of your team members live near you, arranging quarterly or even monthly meetups can be a fantastic way to stay in touch and resurrect the social aspect of work.
- Start a mentor program – There are so many people at your company that have a ton of knowledge to share with others. Building a buddy or mentoring program can help more junior employees feel comfortable asking questions they may not want to ask their boss, and allows more experienced employees to feel good about lending a hand.
- Ask questions – Whenever you’re stuck on a problem, find and introduce yourself to a subject matter expert. Although they may not have a ton of time to spend with you, but over time, you can develop a rapport with them and know that you have an ally on another team.
Start connecting with your peers
It can feel intimidating to put yourself out there, but making dependable relationships at work is worth any initial awkwardness. Work relationships can propel your career forward, helping you solve tough problems, providing valuable criticism, or positive reinforcement. In the end, forming work relationships is about making people feel more like part of a group, rather than just a number.
If you’re looking for a job at a workplace with a wonderful culture, or if you’re searching for new employees to fit into your existing culture, don’t hesitate to reach out to Planet Group. Our skilled professionals have decades of experience serving all types of candidates and companies and would be happy to help.