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Proven Solutions to Build Relationships in Virtual Teams

With more professionals today working remotely, employers are asking themselves the same question.  How can I help my remote team feel more like a team?

The first key is the quality of the remote social engagement. In fact, a recent Gallup study illustrates that workers are highly productive and more likely to remain with a company when they have the flexibility to interact with coworkers on their own terms.  That is to say, they value quality over quantity in their engagements.  So knowing that time is precious and limited, so why spend 9 - 5 in an office away from home and inspiring remote work spots?  We need to ensure that when building remote teams, we strive for quality interactions over the quantity of interactions.

Strategies to Build Remote Relationships

So how are we going to foster quality over quantity?  How will we create those valued remote team-building interactions?  There are dozens of relationship building techniques for remote workforces.  Where’s a good place to start?  Today, we’ll look at a few of our favorite strategies that you can start to consider when creating a connected remote work culture and team.

  1. Remember that predictability leads to productivity

First, create predictability with weekly scheduled team meetings.  Schedule these weekly meetings well in advance with a clear start and end time, allowing everyone to plan accordingly.  Move away from those “surprise meetings” that create team stress and havoc.  Weekly meetings can begin with casual ice breaker questions like, “Tell us something interesting that you did or learned about recently.” These questions are a great way to build relationships among remote team members.

Allow remote workers to share in each other’s lives and begin to see and care for their remote teammates as individuals.

Wouldn’t you feel more motivated to go to work remotely for a team that knew, listened to and cared about one another?

  1. Reward ideal remote behavior

Building positive remote work relationships requires reinforcing the kind of work behavior you want to see.  In each weekly meeting, discuss tasks and make sure everyone understands the deliverables and metrics.  Give them the chance to ask questions or offer one another advice. Encourage collaboration and, more importantly, foster a remote work culture where eliciting advice and asking clarifying questions is not only encouraged but rewarded.

Encourage constructive feedback, validating one another, and tackling challenges “as a remote team.”

You’ll find that your remote staff will begin to feel they are part of a respectful, resilient community of talented peers.  That’s worth working hard for, don’t you think?

  1. Understand this. There is no substitute for facetime

Building quality remote relationships means that you have to get social.  So much is lost in translation when you remove nonverbal communication.  Using Slack for the remote workplace may be a great way to send quick back and forth messages, but scheduling a face-to-face call for remote work allows you to have that quality interaction that can foster real relationships.  Should I use Zoom for my remote work team? Google Hangouts?  Regardless of the technology, give everyone a predictable online work meeting time and allow them to prepare.  They’ll want to make sure they look their best and are ready and enthusiastic to engage online.  This can be extended to meeting in person too.  Many successful remote work companies do one thing: they create time to meet in person.  This can be as simple as a cup of coffee when you know you’ll be in town, or, as companies like GitLab do

An annual company retreat is the ultimate team building experience and attracts top talent from around the globe. 

Who wouldn’t want to work for a company that wanted to spend quality time together just because?

  1. Avoid this common remote work pitfall

You’ve worked so hard to build your remote business.  Perhaps you have a fully distributed team, or it could be that only part of your workforce is remote.  Regardless, don’t let your hard work fall victim to these common mistakes.  

First, recognize that remote work doesn’t mean you’re open for business 24/7.  Your remote team needs a schedule too, so they can find a healthy, sustainable work/life balance. 

Perhaps you’re wise enough to offer them some flexibility in their schedule options, allowing them to choose work hours in which they are at their peak levels of productivity.  Regardless, safeguard your investment by protecting their work/life separation.  Long-term, you’ll have a team that’s energized and ready for anything.  Otherwise, you’re setting yourself up for high turnover and employee burnout.

Let’s take a moment to review these four strategies. Each strategy takes you one step closer to building relationships in virtual teams.

  1. Remember that predictability leads to productivity, so schedule regular meetings.
  2. Reward ideal remote behavior to build a strong remote work culture.
  3. Understand the value of facetime, and meet in person when possible.
  4. Avoid remote work burnout by ensuring everyone has their “business hours.”

Which of these strategies will make the most immediate positive impact in your company?  

Putting plans into action

Ready to see some dramatic changes in employee engagement and retention? Remote IT World offers a wealth of strategies like these with clear implementation guidance and personalized, step-by-step consulting services.

Send us a message at hr@remoteit.world to start this valuable conversation and begin to build the remote work environment you and your team deserve.

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