By: Harshit
April 28 2019

Maintaining connections in a remote workplace

Maintaining connections in a remote workplace is tough and regardless of all the communication tools you have, it is tough to maintain a personal touch with the people you work with closely on nearly everything. Let’s talk about a few things which you can do to make sure you never make your team feel out of the loop or out of the team spirit. 

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Some statistics to give you the chills

There are nearly 1-1.3 billion people with disabilities in the world, as per a report published by the United Nations itself. This is so enthralling. That's nearly the population of China - 1.39 billion and nearly quadruple times the population of the United States of America. In fact, persons with disabilities are the largest minority in the world.

Maintaining connections in a remote workplace is tough and regardless of all the communication tools you have, it is tough to maintain a personal touch with the people you work with closely on nearly everything. Let’s talk about a few things which you can do to make sure you never make your team feel out of the loop or out of the team spirit. 

A sense of connectedness adds some sort of spark to things 

As per Michael Lee Stallard, the author of - Connection Culture and a well-known expert on effective leadership and leadership communication, - The Competitive Advantage of a Shared Identity, Empathy and Understanding at Work cannot be beaten by any work culture , these are some enormous benefits which come out from having building substantial and healthy employee relationships and connections in any office or remote workplace. 

“Employees have cognitive clarity, they give their best effort, they align their work with the organization’s goals, they communicate more, and they engage in creativity to fuel innovation. Customers can feel if it is there or not. When employees are engaged and connected, they naturally want to share that with customers.”

The era of remote or virtual workspaces

As the workplace has evolved over the last decade, there’s been a lot of work into reimagining and shaping the work culture. Traditional offices are a concept of the past and people are all willing to challenge the status quo. 

Talking numbers, the amount of virtual workers has risen 115% in the last decade, according to a report from Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs. Almost 4 million workers (nearly 3% of the U.S. workforce) reported working from home at least half the time in 2015, up from 1.8 million in 2005.

a boy with dos and don'ts sign

Thinking beyond the play area 

A gaming area is just not what builds up to be a company culture. All those ping pong and foosball tables are relaxing elements of the workplace. What does make a great culture in a remote or distributed team? Respectful communication, timely coordination, and business processes. All these factors matter a lot to people who are remotely available for you. 

To unite the team, you can organize some events at venues which are common for everyone to reach. May be take the team out on trip as per their availability or sponsor their brunches or try to meet them whenever you are flying by. That would mean a lot to them, wouldn’t it matter to you if you were remotely engaged with a company?

Because communication is the new water  

Communication tools have become the core of many businesses today. Utilize those mediums to talk something beyond work, something which makes them feel more private with you, something which makes them open up to you, or talk about their past or present. 

Getting to know your remote teammates is the best to network and build a fantastic work environment which helps in making the team more responsible, productive and super proactive towards their roles and responsibilities. Nothing can go great until and unless there is a sense of responsibility and team play within all the individuals of the team. 

Decide and maintain your active hours  

Instead of being available as per your day’s schedule, try to fixate on a more organized routine for being available on communication mediums. This adds to your approachability and candor in the remote workplace. If the work hours are a strict 9-5 or 8 straight hours, you would want to stay connected at least for the first half. It is important to establish your core hours, blocks of time in which you will be present and available to your team.

Second best advice, always be amazingly responsive over emails, slack, anywhere. Don’t leave any message unattended, do your basic courtesy and sent acknowledgment to peers in case the message is just informative in nature. 

Try and keep your schedule public  

Keeping your schedule public is one thing you can do make sure that people feel welcomed to tap into your daily life. In fact, that is the best part about working remotely, you can buckle up on some daily chores, run quick errands and also deliver on time. You get so much better at time management that you take a new toll on productivity. 

You must have some deliverables at the end of the day and making people follow is the last thing you want to do in your daily routine. Instead, keep a calendar which is public so that people do not feel out of the loop. 
Off-work talk is always appreciated  

Normally in an office setting, employees tend to relate to each other and bond over coffee/lunch, or during small talk in parking lots or break-rooms. This kind of personal chit-chat helps employees to trust each other and help each other succeed in the job.

You need to chit chat, you need to go out there and try to strike a contextual conversation. This not only helps you network but also build a helpful relationship in the longer run. This doesn’t mean that you are supposed to be a creepy conversationalist always, be sensitive towards peers and give them your ear from time to time. 

Always communicate to maintain touch  

Understandable there are less opportunities to meet your peers physically and that further leads to a naturally tough bonding process. This shouldn’t hold you from reaching out to them and asking them out for a drink or coffee at a common venue if you are in the same city; less chances they are. But a lot of bonds are solely made on conversations and some do not even require you to meet physically for years. You can be virtual best friends with any one who is of a similar mindset as you. So do not lose out on the networking opportunity you got. 

Understand international practises or cultures 

In this global economy, it has become common to work across different time zones with teams residing across continents which make it even more challenging to build trust. A few things which can be done in order to help cope up with cultural differences are:

Ask how they prefer to receive feedback 

Always consult them how they would like to receive feedback or some particular collaterals. This is more inclined towards creating a better organisation.

Always try to conduct video conferences 

It’s better to conduct video conferences when we can watch their expressions than assume them over a written or verbal conversation. 

Shoulder more responsibilities or at least volunteer  

More than just freedom and flexibility, working remotely is also about personal empowerment. Use that power to learn more about the company you work for, ask to be included in decision making process and volunteer to take on additional responsibilities. Volunteering will give you more visibility, helps you learn new skills or master a new technology, it will increase your connections across the company and helps build relationships with cross functional teams!

The Remainder

These small moves can gain you a lot of appreciation in the workplace, always keep volunteering and always keep helping and reaching out to your peers for trivial to serious matters. They will always appreciate being in touch, make sure to sense their appreciation tough.