How to Build Relationships When Colleagues are Here, There or Anywhere

homeoffice

Open office. Hoteling. Agile office environments.

Whatever you want to call it, working here, there, and everywhere is here to stay. Without water cooler talk, chance hallway meetings, and idle conversation waiting for meetings to begin, it can be hard to develop relationships with new colleagues or keep existing relationships strong and healthy.

Relationship development often gets overlooked when people are not collocated with their team.  People tend to focus primarily on the tasks and the work and forget to develop a relationship with remote workers like the ones they have with their collocated colleagues. 

Here are three quick tips to stay connected with your colleagues who are officeing elsewhere.

1) Use a webcam for as many interactions as you can. Many times remote workers are reluctant to do this – they may be uncomfortable on camera, not in a perfect environment, or any number of other reasons. When they do get on camera, however, it is much easier for their counterparts, whether located in a central office or remotely themselves – to see them as human. As such, colleagues are less likely to make assumptions, blame, or act negatively toward each other.

2) Make small talk.  It is especially important to do so while waiting for all parties to get on the line on a conference call, WebEx, or videoconference. Make small talk with those dialing in just like you would if they were in the same room.  I’ve seen those who are collocated put the remote workers on mute and have the small talk without them. The remote workers, more than anyone, need to be included in the small talk to develop relationships.  This does a great disservice to the relationship and the project work.  When people have deeper relationships, it is easier to have difficult conversations, deal with problems, and handle conflict. 

3) See each other’s space. If you are not in the main office or headquarters, share pictures of your home office environment with your colleagues. This is another technique for humanizing the remote workers and developing relationships with them.

In the comments below, add the tips you have for staying connected with your colleagues who are here, there, or anywhere.

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