It’s no surprise that more than 50% of meetings have been held virtually since 2020. If you’ve been impacted by that statistic, you probably have some feelings about remote work and the difficulty of forming relationships with coworkers. Maybe you’re an introvert who thrives in a virtual working environment, allowing you to use your social “currency” with friends and family at your own disposal. Or maybe you’re someone who thrives from the energy of people working around you and miss the hustle and bustle of office life and the relationships that come with it.
Ever since companies have been making this shift, employees have had to learn how to adapt to a new working environment and how to build and maintain good relationships with coworkers. So whether you’re leading your team meetings or simply a part of a team, you can make a positive impact by following these steps to building better virtual work relationships:
1. Don’t avoid small talk
Connecting personally will enrich your relationship and make it easier to open up while working together. The more open your line of communication, the better collaboration you’ll have. Share personal information—pets are a great way to break the ice! And if you have them, odds are, they’ll be making an appearance in your zoom meetings at some point. You can also try starting your meetings with a quick ice breaker to spark conversation and bring people closer. Some good topics:
- What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
- What are your pets named after and why?
- If you could be best friends with anyone throughout history, who would it be and why?
2. Speak up in meetings
Unlike in a normal office setting, it’s easy to be overlooked in a virtual meeting. Sometimes an entire zoom will go by where you don’t get a word in, which ultimately means most people aren’t going to see your face. This means its more important than ever to make your voice heard and contribute to conversations.
3. Schedule one-on-ones with coworkers
You could meet them for a virtual coffee to get to know them better, work on a joint project over Zoom, or even work on different projects simultaneously. What’s most important is that you’re enjoying one another’s company and making deeper connections.
4. Utilize LinkedIn
Often times you won’t be seeing your coworkers faces or hearing much about them outside of work email correspondence which can and will leave a lot of gaps in your understanding of who they are outside of the office. LinkedIn is a great way to connect with coworkers and see what interests and aspirations you may have in common. Similarly, it’s a great way to expand your own horizons and connect with other professionals in your field.
5. Celebrate together!
Acknowledge birthdays, work anniversaries, and any other big life events to bring everyone closer.
Maybe you love the private nature of working from home, or maybe you do prefer the ease of in-person communication and co-working—either way, staying connected and finding deeper and more consistent means of communication will ultimately benefit everyone on your team and the quality of your own work.