How to bond with colleagues if you work remotely?
There’s a lot that happens at work. You get to meet different people, plan lunch, coffee breaks and team celebrations, partake in impromptu brain-storming sessions, head over to your colleague’s desk in case you need their advice and so much more. But, here you are working from home and flustered about how to bond with office-going colleagues when you are sitting miles away from them. It is natural to fear not being part of a real-time office environment, especially if you are gregarious. However, all’s not lost. Given the fact that we live in a globalized and digitally-enabled world you can definitely share a cordial relationship with your long distance colleagues. And, here’s how.
Out of sight is not necessarily out of mind, unless you prove that you like to work in complete isolation or in a silo, unaffected by who’s who. When you are a part of a team, it goes without saying that you should be approachable. People should feel comfortable speaking to you even when you are not physically around. You should be there when you are needed, whether it is during crisis or other work-related commitments. Welcome their ideas, opinions and thoughts like you expect yours to be. No matter which part of the world you work from, make sure you mutually agree on a time to connect with each other regardless of whether you are in a leadership position or just a team member. Try not to come across as cold, distant and uninterested. Even on telephonic conversation have a smile on your face because people on the other side may sense your mood and frown.
Embrace technology: Have a virtual chat (no work) once a week
Why should you lose the privilege of not having any sort of candid interaction with team members? Get to know each other over chats or FaceTime. Choose a medium that suits your convenience and genuinely form a bond. It should give you a sense that you may be working remotely, but you still have people to work with. This also helps you overcome looming fear of losing social skills. Talk about your life in general and get to know who they are outside work. There are a million ways to make small talks, but you should be willing to do so. In fact, according to Globoforce’s report, employees who develop quality relationships with their colleagues are more likely to be engaged and happy at work. Goes without saying that it is a perk to be around people you look forward to working with.
Have more face-to-face meetings
With so many inexpensive tools for video chat available, you should definitely switch to videos whenever you can. Nothing quite beats face-to-face communication or one-on-one meetings considering most of our conversations have hidden non-verbal cues, especially when dealing with contention-rich issues. A lot gets conveyed vis-a-vis body posture and facial expression. While you’re talking or listening people talk, a lot of misunderstandings get cleared as well. It also drives participation in addition to improving engagement. So, next time you are sending a meeting request, make it a video conference call. Besides, if you live in the same country, but different cities then make sure you see office folks at least once every quarter and most definitely at off-site meetings.
Work comes first
Never forget that nothing should precede work. Set clear work expectations because colleagues who operate remotely tend to be taken for granted or given a default ‘absentee’ status. You have to stay proactive and ensure that your work is getting pushed ahead and on time. Should it suffer delays, inform your manager. And, if you have a managerial role to perform, with teams split across the globe, let everybody understand that when it comes to work everything takes a backseat. Once you set expectations and people are acquainted of each other’s work style, work will happen seamlessly. Of course, your working relationship will not be hiccup-free which is normal within an office setup too.
Nurture each other
Relationship building takes time and effort from people involved. So, don’t expect bonding with colleagues to happen overnight. Value people you work with and express gratitude whenever they help you. Make efforts to offer help to those who need your support. Don’t forget the power of small gestures as remembering birthdays and anniversaries or sending messages to celebrate small team wins.
Working remotely is not just a passing phase, but a wave of the future. If you are surfing along this wave then you know how not to fall flat now, don’t you?!
Source: People Matters