Relationships, especially healthy ones, are the fuel that keeps the human community going. The “hellos” and friendly comments from other people are sometimes what we need to get our day running. If you’ve ever worked in an office setting, you probably recollect moments when you left your desk for your colleagues. Maybe for little talks or help with a particular work task—you may remember those moments as what kept you going against all odds.
With the popularity of being able to work from anywhere, it seems like workplace connections are fading away. Let’s face it. Remote work will be around for a long time, if not to stay. The best bet is to adapt—find ways to connect and build relationships even while working remotely.
The Challenges of Working Remotely
Yes, remote work undoubtedly comes with several benefits including greater flexibility, improved work-life balance, and reduced commute time. But with every pro comes a con. One of the biggest challenges of remote work is social isolation and loneliness. According to Zippa’s “Trending Remote Work Statistics”, 50 percent of remote employees say that working remotely makes them feel lonely at least once a week.
In fact, 19 percent of respondents identified isolation as their biggest struggle with remote work, and 70 percent say they feel left out. Despite the benefits that come with the freedom of work, 6 percent of employees say they would gladly return to onsite jobs just for reconnections with colleagues.¹
Communication is a key ingredient for effective collaboration and relationship building. However, GitLab’s 2020 survey reported that 35 percent of employees working remotely said they have difficulty collaborating with colleagues.²
The lack of in-person meetings makes it challenging to read nonverbal cues, leading to miscommunication and disengagement in some cases. Remote work relies heavily on technology for interaction. If these technologies are leveraged appropriately, employers and employees alike can bridge communication gaps and build effective work relationships.
Making Remote Workers Friends: 5 Tips for Building a Remote Community
As the employer or manager, a lot more responsibility lies on your shoulders in setting the tone and culture of your workplace. If you promote a welcoming atmosphere where team members can interact freely, team members will subconsciously build on this. Aside from creating a positive workplace culture, here’s how you can leverage your tech stack to build a friendly environment for employees:
1. Set Up Virtual Social Spaces
Virtual social spaces are designed to facilitate ongoing communication and collaboration between teams. Your workplace can leverage messaging apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams, or social media platforms like Workplace by Facebook or Yammer, and virtual offices like Gather. These spaces allow team members to share information, ask questions, collaborate on projects, and engage in casual conversations.
However, it is essential to recognize that these platforms are primarily designed to track individual task completion rather than complex and ongoing assignments that require collaboration. Employees should not only be involved in their individual work but also find ways to support one another.
2. Organize Online Events
Just because people aren’t physically in the same space doesn’t mean they can’t connect socially. Since everyone might be working from different locations and time zones, dinners and social gatherings may not be an option. However, you can spice things up by creating virtual coolers—set up a chat room or channel where remote workers can “hang out” and chat informally.
This can include casual conversations about their lives outside of work, meme-sharing, or can be just about anything. From time to time, schedule regular video calls for team meetings, coffee chats, or happy hours. You can also organize a variety of forums like a book club, fitness group, or game tournaments. This helps foster a sense of camaraderie and create a more relaxed and social atmosphere.
However, when planning online events, be sure to keep in mind the different interests and personalities of team members. You can ask them for suggestions or create polls to determine areas of interest. Also, make sure to schedule events at a time that works for everyone. That way, no one is left out.
3. Encourage Participation in Industry Groups and Forums
Industry groups and forums serve as another way to build connections while working remotely. This can include joining industry-specific groups on social media or participating in online forums in line with the organization’s work focus.
These groups provide opportunities for team members to connect with other professionals in the workplace, share knowledge and insights, and build relationships that can lead to new opportunities and collaborations.
4. Foster Pair-to-Pair Mentorship
Mentorship programs provide a valuable opportunity to bridge gaps between individuals of varying backgrounds and levels of authority.
By offering a platform for experienced members to impart their knowledge and guidance to less seasoned colleagues, mentorship programs enable mentor figures to feel a sense of appreciation and fulfillment. Meanwhile, mentees gain insights into the organization that they may not have been able to access otherwise and are supported in their personal and professional growth.
5. Initiate Meetings with Small Talk
While everyone in the team has meetings at different periods, a useful tactic is to begin every session with some small talk. Getting to know team members more—asking questions about how their day is going, how the weather is where they are, or questions about their culture—may seem unnecessary. However, these are minor things that foster good work relationships—it’s a reminder that the individuals you’re collaborating with are actual people.
Benefits of Building Work Relationships Especially in The Era of Telework
When everyone gets on their toes and work together to build positive work relationships, it:
- Closes communication gaps, ensuring teams are on the same page. Yes, working remotely can make communication challenging. But when team members build strong relationships with one another, miscommunication becomes a thing of the past. There’s better rapport and an environment of trust where people feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas.
- Improves individual performance. In addition to enhancing collective productivity by fostering camaraderie among team members, cultivating positive workplace relationships can enhance personal productivity and augment job-related competencies. Individuals who relish collaborating with their colleagues typically exert greater effort, both consciously and unconsciously, as they take pleasure in their current work environment and desire success for their organization.
- Individuals are motivated to perform better. Building personal connections with others can create deeper relationships that result in personal fulfillment. It can also create a community where individuals and teams can learn, grow, and develop together. This can in turn lead to overall job satisfaction.
WHAT’S A WORK RELATIONSHIP WITHOUT AN ACTUAL TEAM? LET DAVIS COMPANIES HELP YOU LEVERAGE REMOTE WORK!
If you’re looking to tap into the benefits of remote work, there’s probably something left—you need the right people on your team, or an employer that shares the same values. Not to worry, DAVIS Companies takes pleasure in putting great people together.
We provide an extensive network of candidates and job opportunities that allow you to have quick access to the right candidates or job positions at the right time. Get in touch today and let’s get you connected!
- Zippia. “25 Trending Remote Work Statistics : Facts, Trends, and Projections”. https://www.zippia.com/advice/remote-work-statistics/. Published October 6, 2022. Accessed March 23, 2023.
- GitLab. “The Remote Work Report by GitLab: The Future of Work is Remote”. https://page.gitlab.com/rs/194-VVC-221/images/the-remote-work-report-by-gitlab.pdf. Published March 2020. Accessed March 23, 2023.