You know that afternoon slump when everyone needs an interruption from the doldrums of the workday and heads to the break room? The water cooler moment when you hear about your co-worker’s grandbaby taking his first steps or the new cute guy in the next office over. These casual conversations in the office are more than just fulfilling workers’ needs to get away from their desks. They also allow employees to build a relationship by talking about things outside of work. Interaction on a social level helps employees to create a bond that establishes trust, boundaries, dependency, and transparency.
When your job is remote, you do not have the luxury of strolling down the hallway to the coffee pot or lingering around the water cooler. You do not have the same opportunities regularly to build those relationships that are not only fulfilling but necessary to develop happy and productive employees. Collaboration among team members is more than just about email messages and transferring data back and worth. It is about creating a human bond based on trust, shared values, personal connection, and emotions.
Because you work remotely does not mean that these types of relationships or bonds are any less important. It does mean, however, that you will have to work a little bit harder to build them. Communication builds trust and the highest performing teams in the world are built on trust. In a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University, researchers have identified that effective teams require social intelligence, or the ability to understand the feelings and thoughts of others[i].
And how do they propose to do that when team members are working remotely?
As remote jobs become more popular and more companies are getting on the bandwagon, human resources personnel have had to get creative to help co-workers to establish these essential relationships. Between company efforts and by following some of our recommended tips, you can build relationships with your team members that will help you to enjoy your workday and be satisfied with your job.
- Weekly meetings are a great way to casually connect with team members. They can be designed around work-related subjects or simply a ‘Monday morning check-in’ that allows co-workers to chat about their weekends, their social lives, and any reasons to celebrate such as birthdays, anniversaries, babies, etc.
- Since you can’t run off to the break room to catch up on the latest news, the next best thing is technology. There are many popular channels that companies use to engage with employees about non-work-related subjects. Employees can post jokes, recipes, motivational quotes, workout routines, pictures of their favorite pets, or beloved vacation spots.
- Technology is what has enabled us to work from home in the first place. Why not use it to build relationships among team members! Rather than email or text conversations, try chatting via video conferencing. You get to see the person’s face, learn to read their facial expressions and gestures, and even get a sneak peek into their own work environment. Maybe it will spark some ideas for yours as well.
- Real-life meetups can do wonders for boosting relationships in the workplace. Although you may know someone’s name and have chatted with them a thousand times, there is something special about actually shaking a person’s hand or sitting next to them during a meeting. If possible, try to do an in-person meeting or meet up at least once per year so that you can see your team members face to face.
- Loneliness tends to set in when employees do not have regular connections with others. You cannot hide behind a screen even if you are not a people person. By building relationships with your co-workers, you might even find that you enjoy being social and interacting with other people. You could even learn something new and exciting about your team member or the company in general. Contact with others and building relationships tend to brighten a person’s mood and even increase productivity.
Just because you are working remotely does not mean that you have to be cut off from the rest of your team or co-workers. It means that you have to change the way that you think about your connections with people and how you go about interacting. As the world transitions to more remote workers, more people will find themselves in need of social interaction and they will see the power of building remote relationships.