Building Relationships while Working Remotely

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As we’re a little further into the COVID-19 pandemic, a shift is occurring for those who are new to working from home. Initially, there was adrenaline and chaos, trying to figure out all the moving parts. Now, routines are emerging within this new normal–fueled by intentional efforts to stay sane, productive, and centered.

But how do we sustain and build on our business relationships, remotely? These are more crucial than ever for your business and for the extra strength and support needed for/from your extended community. We are all navigating this transition in our own way and it’s important to give teammates/clients time and space to talk about it as needed. Integrating some small relationship-focused habits into your work routine will go a long way during this pandemic and beyond.

Some tips to integrate into your new work routine:

1. Over-communicate. These three small actions will save time and energy for everyone:

– Prior to the meeting, set clear goals and objectives by email or chat tools to be reiterated at the start of the meeting.

– Follow each meeting with a brief email with bulleted summary and action items.

– During or after the meeting, give everyone the opportunity to ask questions and voice opinions.

2. Stay consistent with communication methods to keep projects organized and streamlined – a key to remote work.

– Learn teammate/client preferences.

– Once a routine is in place, switch it up once in a while for a resilient relationship:

– Emails and chat tools help projects stay on track

– Phone calls bring tone, clarity, and context sometimes missed with emails

– Video calls help with eye contact, body language, and strengthening the feeling of being connected.

-During this COVID-19 time, video calls may increase feelings of connection, even for those who don’t typically do them. However, if either party has a tricky internet connection or does not have privacy, save added stressors and skip the video call.

3. Weekly or bi-weekly check-ins help boost morale, reinforce the connection, and increase productivity:

– 30 to 45-minute video calls are ideal, especially for small teams and more hands-on projects

– Use the first 10 minutes for checking in. Ask how everyone is doing. Now more than ever, acknowledging our mental health is vital to productivity

4. Chat tools such as Slack are key to keeping projects on track, reducing emails, and staying in touch – jokes and daily wins included.

– Whatever your team/clients like to geek out on, dedicate some time to it each week. If operating on your own, include an informal, social note of encouragement in your email or call – a reminder that we are all in this together.

– Some quick, fun approaches to lifting the mood through chat tools:

– On Mondays, each team member shares a photo highlight of the weekend

– For parents working from home with kids, create a Slack channel dedicated to sharing age-appropriate activities/links/inspiration

– For food lovers, create a Slack channel for home-cooked meals + recipes to inspire others

– For folks living in one area: create a channel on local businesses to support, including virtual yoga and exercise, food and special celebration deliveries

5. Build on your most valuable and established relationships. Outside of group check-ins, take the time to check how individuals are doing – the introverts and the extroverts:

– Generally, we hear more from the extroverts, so it is especially important to actively keep the door open for all voices, insights, questions, and needs.

– Whether it’s a 5-minute Slack chat, text or quick email, be sure to connect privately with at least one team member a day.

– For consistency, set a calendar reminder for yourself to check in every few weeks.

At the end of the day, building remote relationships takes a little more effort from the get-go but the overall impact is worth it. Focusing on communication, managing expectations, giving extra attention to logistics, and being flexible – these are great traits to build on whether virtually or in person! Feel free to share recent successes and solutions in your own efforts around this, we’re happy to hear from you.

About Jossie Auerbach

Jossie has worked on distributed teams, built global partnerships and initiatives, and worked remotely for local and global clients, often without ever meeting her collaborators in person. In recent years, Jossie’s family decided to work remotely while traveling for months at a time (with their toddler in tow!). COVID-19 has them grounded in Denver, listening and sharing insights with clients, colleagues, and friends who have all had to transition quickly into the world of remote work.

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