How to Bond with Your Remote Coworkers

How to Bond with Your Remote Coworkers

Outstanding things happen when employees bond. Job satisfaction increases, engagement rises, and workers develop a greater sense of purpose. These benefits hold true for remote coworkers, too. While they may not have physical proximity in their favor to promote interactions, modern technology and a little effort can do wonders.

Consider these ways to bridge the distance and develop relationships with remote coworkers:

Utilize social channels.

Perhaps the most popular image of workplace bonding is a group standing around the water cooler chatting about last night’s baseball game or the newest additions to the royal family. Chat platforms, such as Slack and Google Hangout, provide a way to mimic these random, organic conversations that offer valuable insight into people’s personalities and interests.

Having trouble getting the back and forth to flow? Create some themed channels. Sharing pet pictures in a virtual kennel or giving one’s two-cents on who should be voted off “Dancing with the Stars” can break the ice and energize discussions.

Meet in person (or the next best way).

Putting a face with a name offers a richer picture (literally and figuratively). Managers at brick-and-mortar workplaces often encourage telecommuters to drop in occasionally for face-to-face interaction or invite them to company retreats. Some remote workers make a point of seeking out colleagues they’ve never met in person at industry events. And gathering the courage to ask a fellow telecommuter in your area to go out for coffee might start an awesome friendship.

But the fact remains that many modern teammates never meet in person. Turning to communication methods that are more “personal” becomes a popular alternative.

MaidPro uses visual face-to-face technology to connect no matter where one might be on any given day,” says Richard Sparacio, president and co-founder. “Even if it’s for a quick item, it’s nice to see one’s face to ask a question or to converse on an item. Seeing one’s face, expressions, and cues end up filling in for the nuances that are missed when people are at different locations.”

Adds Lindsay Wissman of The Content Factory, “If we’re working on a project together (especially if it’s the first time), we make sure to talk on the phone or Skype early on. Being able to hear someone’s voice automatically makes an interaction more personal, and I find it goes a long way toward getting to know a person.”

Teams can even turn virtual meetings into bonding events. Simple actions such as everyone dressing in Halloween costumes for an October video conference or ending group calls with each participant sharing something interesting happening in his or her life generates interest in one another.

Make a point of conversing.

Finally, just as in-office colleagues bond by showing interest, telecommuters can do the same. Try something casual yet encouraging for starters, such as ending an email exchange with “Have a good weekend. I’m taking my son to see that new Marvel movie. What are your plans?”

You might find common ground, such as kids the same age or a shared passion for Iron Man, or learn that your colleague spends weekends at a beach house. Follow up next time with the bits you know (“Was the water warm enough for you to swim yet?”), and soon, regular conversation may be the norm.

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By Beth Braccio Hering | Categories: Work Remotely

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