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How to Make Work Friends When You Work Remotely

Working remotely can come with many benefits to employee well-being. Today, Patricia shares some tips on how to build strong relationships with coworkers from afar.

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Working remotely can come with many benefits to employee well-being. However, it can be harder to build strong relationships with your coworkers when you aren’t in the office. Today, I share some tips on how to build strong relationships with coworkers from afar.

We know that having friends at work can have a positive impact on your work life. So how do you create those bonds when you don’t see your coworkers in person? As you all already know, I work from home and have lots of ideas to share from my experience. I’ve outlined my top 3 tips below.

Make the Call

I’ve shared my tips for working from home before which include the importance of communication. Obviously, if you are trying to build friendships at work, communication is incredibly important. Specifically, I think talking on the phone versus email or IM can really help. Being on the phone with someone facilitiates ‘small talk’, which is really important in getting to know someone a bit better and to check in with them personally.

One way I make sure I talk to my coworkers is to call them instead of IM for quick questions. I want to be respectful of everyone’s time, so I will ask first if they have a second to chat on the phone. Once on the call, I will start with a bit of small talk. I like to ask how they are doing and follow up on any things we’ve talked about before. For example, if they told me they were going to Vegas last weekend, I will ask how the trip went. It’s important not only to just check in with them but to show that you care and are paying attention by bringing up previous conversations. To build that friendship, you need to act like a friend would and care about the person’s life, inside and outside of work.

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Don’t be shy! Call your coworkers to have an actual conversation with them!

Remote Happy Hours

One really fun idea that one of my other remote coworkers came up with is video call happy hours. We don’t do them very often but I find them to be very helpful in creating connections.

A remote happy hour is basically a video call meeting with no actual work agenda! I’ve done a few of them one-on-one and I’ve also participated in some group ones. You schedule them for the end of the work day and everyone can bring a beverage of choice while chatting in the video meeting. People in an office often schedule happy hours right after work so why can’t you do the same if you are remote? While the venue is very different, the purpose is the same – you are there to get to know your coworkers a little bit better and have some fun!

One reason these are successful is because everyone is coming into the meeting ready to chat about things outside of work. Sometimes trying to connect with someone before a meeting or when asking a quick question doesn’t work well when the other person is busy. These remote happy hours are great because you know that everyone is there to chat. They wouldn’t join in if they were busy!

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Remote happy hours make it completely acceptable to drink alone in front of your computer!

Use Your Time Wisely

My last tip is actually about being with coworkers in person. When you work remotely, there are often opportunities to travel to the main office or possibly travel to clients with other coworkers. If you do get to see your coworkers in person, it is important you make the most of your time with them.

When I travel to the office, I actually end up not getting as much work done as I do at home because I’m focusing so much on doing some serious relationship building. I schedule lunches every day with different groups of coworkers. Sometimes I schedule breakfasts and dinners with coworkers that are free at those times too! I also plan a happy hour and send the invite to everyone. I use my time to make the kinds of connections I can’t make while I’m remote.

When traveling for clients, I also try to have quality interactions with my coworkers. It’s a lot easier than when going to the office because we are all away from home and looking for people to have meals with! Obviously, the client meeting I’m attending is important but I think that time with coworkers is equally as important to my success as an employee.

Overall, we know that building those coworker relationships is really important to your wellbeing at work. Sometimes it takes some creativity and effort to get to know your remote friends. Now, it’s your turn. Do you work remotely? If so, how do you work on those coworker relationships? We’d love to hear from you!

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