For all the wonderful perks that remote work provides—like money-saving opportunities and positives for the environment—it can also be a bit more difficult to connect with colleagues and team members on a deep level when you aren’t working face-to-face on a consistent basis. There are some ways to get around that, though, and to help foster a more personal and professional connection with your remote work team members.
Consider some of the following ways to connect with colleagues on a deeper level when you work remotely:
Provide opportunities for face-to-face meet-ups.
This won’t always be possible for people who work in different parts of the country, of course, but if your remote team members do live relatively close by, why not suggest something like a monthly lunch or happy hour meet up? This will help everyone gather in a more relaxed setting that’s more conducive to personal relationship growth.
Create a congratulations email chain.
Even if location prevents you from meeting up face-to-face, that doesn’t mean you can’t connect on a deeper level by celebrating outside-of-work achievements. One way to do so is by creating a team calendar that everyone shares where people can include any achievements—professional or personal—that might be nice to celebrate.
Just because everyone can’t sign the same card congratulating a co-worker on her baby’s first birthday doesn’t mean you can’t send team flowers and all hop on a congratulatory email chain that’s fun for everyone to read and participate in.
Build in time for small talk.
Especially for remote workers who generally only hop on conference calls for important meetings or deadline updates, talking with remote workers can often take on the form of a stressful task, rather than the fun water cooler chatter that tends to happen more naturally in an office environment.
To help foster that same camaraderie, try building in a couple extra minutes at the beginning or end of each call, so people can chat about whatever other topics may have come up during the day or during the call that don’t have to do with work.
One of the hardest parts about working remotely is not knowing exactly when you’re interrupting something important. In an office environment, a closed door is a pretty sure sign that someone is busy, but when you can’t actually see the person you want to chat with, who’s to say if they’re too busy to catch up or not? Help ward off potential confusion—and foster a feeling of an open-door policy at the same time—by giving your co-workers specific blocks of time throughout the day when you will try to always be available for whatever they need.
Share your calendar schedule with your co-workers, as well, so they’ll be able to tell for themselves when you’re “out of office,” or too busy with other work obligations to be interrupted.
Have the right tools.
Since phone calls and video conferences are very important for people who work remotely, be sure that all your team members have the proper communication tools available to them so that no one is left out.
Lead by example.
Having the right attitude can go a long way when it comes to fostering relationships with a remote team. If you demonstrate that you view your remote colleagues with respect and that you want to foster a deeper relationship with them, they will be more eager to follow suit.
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