Maintaining Relationships in a Work From Home World
As a strong proponent of work-life flexibility and virtual workplaces, I believe it is a real win-win situation in which the company can save costs while maintaining its hard-to-find talent in places other than mother ships and skilled professionals turn into happier employees with the luxury of working from home without the trouble of relocating or traveling to pursue their dream job!
Happier employees are positively linked to the company ‘s good retention rate, increased morale, and continued success! Working remotely, however, is not easy and requires a certain set of temperaments and skills to succeed as a member of a Virtual Team. This article will be part of the remote work series and will address the value of organizational relationships and basic confidence-building techniques when literally working!
The value of establishing relationships and sustaining them
Let’s start with “why” before we go into how it’s necessary to nurture relationships in the workplace even while working remotely!
The development of high-quality relationships has been positively linked to increased productivity and a psychologically safe feeling at work. People with strong workplace friendships tend to feel less isolated, more focused, and loyal to their business, get sick less often and don’t frequently change jobs. But with all the advantages of providing high-quality friendships in the workplace, it ‘s important that virtual workers make a concerted effort to establish ties.
Here, in a remote work situation, the interactions are much more purposeful and require greater effort, unlike people working in the office where networking occurs naturally when you meet your coworker down the hallway or by water-cooler and brainstorming a work problem together with discussing weekend plans!
Here are some simple strategies for building meaningful relationships in virtual work!
This is where the concept of working at your own pace breaks down and when they need you, it’s really important to be available to your team. They would feel insecure if your team doesn’t see you on a regular basis, and that will trigger questions about your ability to meet project deadlines. During the core work hours, you need to be open and create trust in your team by consistently generating results and being ready to respond to any last-minute escalations. Being in Talent Acquisition, we average more than 3 hours of meetings a day some days more demanding than others, and therefore working remotely requires more planning and scheduling to accommodate my clients’ different time zones. These recommendations below have helped my team to build confidence.
It is important to determine your core hours, the time blocks in which you will be present, and available to your team which is usually 8 hours but can vary depending on your business. Set expectations that the team should expect a pause in response outside of core work hours.
Socialize your time with your team and clients
Some of the greatest advantages of working remotely is the versatility that will allow you to make fast errands or get midday appointments while still being able to fulfill the expectations and obligations of your working day. In such situations, it is always recommended that you socialize with your team in your schedule so that they are aware that you have stepped out. Always give the team ahead for any delays, and be transparent with your commitments.
It’s far easier to be true than trying to juggle multiple commitments while appearing to be present!
Keep up the chit-chat
Employees usually appear to connect to each other in an office environment and bond over coffee/lunch, or through casual talks in parking lots or breakrooms. This form of informal chit-chat lets workers trust each other and help each other achieve success in the job.
While working remotely, however, since networking is not natural, employees need to make time and effort to engage in informal conversations with their colleagues or team.
Short 2-minute casual interactions, like at the beginning of group meetings, catching up with a friend how their holidays went, checking someone who was out sick, exchanging family photos, greeting someone on their birthday-all these little gestures would certainly help break the ice and let your personality show through digitally and improve your relationships!
To your benefit use technology, social media, and collaboration tools
Today, due to technological advancement, we have numerous tools to stay connected that made our life and work much easier than ever. Using easily accessible services such as Lync, Google Hangouts, Skype, and other resources, strong interpersonal relationships can be formed between remote employees.
Remote workers should also use the Video option to gain more visibility during meetings whenever possible. Using Video helps to put a face on your name, making it easier to create a relationship over time. Furthermore, unlike daily conference calls that can cause you to interrupt your twitter or email, allowing video during calls can make you more concentrated and engage more in meetings that, in effect, can produce a report over time. Also, make sure you dress the part; wearing suitable office attire during video calls demonstrates your commitment to the company and helps build confidence with the team.
Most importantly, meeting your team will help you cement the partnership with your manager and colleagues who will then work harder to integrate you into the company’s fabric!
So yeah, even when you work remotely you can create and sustain robust relationships! It requires some deliberate effort and planning, but with the aforementioned tips and the right attitude and collaborative tools, you ‘re not going to be just another name in the email chain, you ‘re going to have a strong presence, you ‘re going to be an influential voice in the team and share the same bond with those working in an office setting!