Five ways to build relationships for remote workers
It is important to build relationships for remote workers
These tips will work to build relationships for remote workers and office workers alike. Use them to overcome the barriers of distance.
From hot-desking to remote working, it's becoming more and more common for people to work separately from their team. Teleconferencing and instant messaging can help you to stay in touch, but there's no substitute for face-to-face contact. What are the best ways to build personal relationships when you never see your colleagues in person?
1) Use video or phone whenever you can
Phone and video conversations allow you to pick up on tone of voice, allowing for more nuance than email or IM. This is great for tricky conversations, like hashing out the details of a complicated project or delivering negative feedback.
But because of this, many remote workers start to dread phone calls, which seem to only deliver bad news. So get into the habit of using the phone for positive things too, such as making a thank-you call rather than sending an email.
2) Focus on connecting with a few key players
Building long-distance relationships takes time and effort, much more than would be required in a shared workspace. For this reason, it makes sense to focus your efforts on building a rapport with a few key players. Often, the best-connected person on the team won’t be the one who’s top of the hierarchy: it’s the administrator who co-ordinates schedules, or your colleague who’s been there for ten years and has met every key player in the industry. Getting along with these people is the quickest way to build your network, since they know everything and can link you to everyone.
It's never too late to return to networking, even after a career break. Try our Returners' session for Getting Back on the Networking Horse.
3) Never argue via text
Text-based communication lacks tone, which means that it’s easy to misunderstand someone’s intentions. A terse, one-sentence email could mean anything. Maybe your colleague is being rude. Maybe they’re on their phone and in a rush. Maybe they haven’t understood that you need further information from them. If you find yourself getting annoyed with something a colleague has written, try to get them on the phone to clarify things.
4) Make time for rapport-building
How was your weekend? What’s the weather like where you are? If you don’t share physical space with your colleagues, you miss out on those hi-how-are-you chats, which are such a big part of relationship building. Consider scheduling a few extra minutes for each video so you can fit in some chit-chat.
5) Don’t look down on emojis
Ten years ago, putting :) into a work email was seen as shockingly unprofessional, but times have changed. Emojis pack a lot of meaning into a small space, and serious scholarly research has been published, describing how they help to add nuance and feeling to writing. Of course, you still need to use discretion (don’t be the person who adds a “Fri-YAY!” animation to your email signature), but emojis can be a godsend for quick casual messages to colleagues. Throwing in an occasional emoji or gif can take the place of a facial expression, allowing you to show warmth or add an extra layer of meaning to a quick message.
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