Meaningful Relationships In Remote First Teams
More and more companies are switching to remote-first environments. Remote-environments offer employees a lot of flexibility and convenience that they simply don’t get going into the office. Although there are many added benefits to remote work, working remotely presents unique challenges such as building relationships with your coworkers.
We’ll walk you through some tips and techniques on building meaningful relationships with your coworkers so you can be a happy and more efficient employee.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to build meaningful relationships remotely, let’s chat about why building relationships with coworkers is important in the first place.
A business exists to improve its customers' lives and create value for those within the business, i.e., YOU! Think of relationship building as the fuel that gives organizations success in a connected world.
It’s hard to sit in front of a computer all day without any social interaction. It’s expected that you'll socialize in an office environment because that’s just part of working with other humans. Why should it be any different remotely? Well, it shouldn’t! Socialization is still an important factor when it comes to staying happy and productive in the workplace. Let’s dive deeper into how to build these relationships in a remote team.
Create a Culture That Values Work Relationships
First, if you’re an employee, look for a company that values meaningful relationships. Yes, your superiors want to see you being productive, but what helps with productivity are breaks and socialization. If your employer wants you to be “all business” all the time, then recognize that this isn’t an environment that will support building relationships.
If you’re an employer, make sure your team knows that you value socialization. Working for 8 hours straight isn’t sustainable for the majority of people. Human connection is a need! As your employees know that connection is okay, and even better, encouraged, they’ll be less scared to take some breaks and get to know their co-workers. This will improve their productivity and work satisfaction in the long run.
Create this environment by BEING the example. As you get to know your team, share fun things about yourself and ask about them. Look for common ground where fostering connections will be easy. Be genuine as you do this. You don’t have to enjoy every hobby that someone shares with you. But overtime, the more you get to know those you employ, the easier it will be to find common ground.
Write With Personality
Most remote jobs encourage the use of team collaboration tools such as Slack, Trello, Google, or Microsoft Teams. Here, is where a lot of communication is misunderstood and relationships are harmed.
When speaking with coworkers, it’s easy to understand the emotion behind what is communicated. Cues such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice make it easier to understand how something is being communicated. Unfortunately, none of these social cues are available when reading what someone else has written, and the emotion behind a message is often misconstrued. Take a look at this example!
Your co-worker John sends you a message, “I need your stats by Wednesday at the latest. Thanks.” The message is clear, but it’s a bit abrupt and lacks a sense of kindness and team unity. It also communicates that John can’t be bothered to at least try to communicate that you’re on the same team and working together to accomplish the same goals.
One way you could rephrase this to support a meaningful relationship is “Hey Jane! How was camping with the fam this weekend? Make lots of ‘smores? I just wanted to check in since the final project’s due Wednesday. Please send over your stats before then. Thanks a ton!” See how much nicer that sounds?!?
This way, John is showing that:
- He remembered something specific about Jane (that she went camping this weekend).
- He is genuinely interested in how Jane’s weekend went.
- He is kindly reminding Jane that a deadline is coming up and asking for her contribution.
- He’s thanking Jane. Although this is Jane’s job, he doesn’t come off as entitled by commanding something from someone else.
More ways you can show personality is through using punctuation, emojis, GIFs, etc. Regardless of how you convey tone, emotion, and personality, make this a priority if you hope to build meaningful relationships with your co-workers.
Consider Using “Working With Me” User-Manuals
“Working With Me” manuals can be a fun way to introduce yourself, and give your team some ideas for connecting with you. Part of building meaningful relationships is connecting with people in the way they prefer. What’s their communication love language? Include something like this in your “manual”.
This is really just a fun way to get to know and connect with your co-workers. Here are some more things you could add to your manual:
- A little bio about you (education, work experience, where you’re from, etc.)
- Favorite books
- Personality Test results
- How you like to receive feedback and include some good and bad examples for extra credit!
- Work strengths, and weaknesses
- Favorite food/restaurants nearby
- Favorite TV shows and movies
There are SO many random things you could include in your manual. From reading someone’s manual, you could now invite them to lunch at their favorite restaurant, start a watch party for a show you both love, review your favorite books together, and so much more!
Take Personality Tests
This is another fun way to get to know your co-workers. It’s almost inevitable that you will clash with certain work personalities. But, you can also mesh with work personalities and find life-long friends as well. Take personality tests as a team to learn more about the motivations, strengths, weaknesses, and defining characteristics of those you’re working with.
Here are a few common personality tests you can use and take as a team:
- Big-5 Personality Test
- Color Code
- SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire
Use Video Platforms
Finally, one of the easiest ways to build meaningful relationships with co-workers remotely is getting as close to a real-life office environment as possible. Video chat is the best option. You don’t have to guess tone or infer meaning, you can actually see and hear your coworkers as you interact with them.
In work meetings via video, you could set apart time to give weekly highlights, share fun facts, or just socialize together. You could also have lunch together or take breaks via video calls.
Hopefully, you’re adjusting alright to working remotely. We know it can be isolating at times, but hang in there because it will get better! Use these tips to speed up the process of getting to know your team and build meaningful relationships with your coworkers.