Working remotely is an amazing perk. You spend less on your commute, you don’t have to change out of your pajamas (if you don’t want to), and you can shut yourself off from the world to crank out some work.
But, while working remotely is great at first, it can get lonely pretty quickly. When you’re used to working in an office and seeing your coworkers every day, there’s a bit of culture shock as you transition to only talking to your pets.
Feeling connected to your coworkers is such an important part of loving your job. So how can you keep that connection with your team when you don’t see them in the office every day?
Have an In-Person Meeting to Look Forward To
Depending on where you work in relation to your main office / where the rest of your remote coworkers live, this may or may not be possible.
I personally live about 2.5 hours away from our closest office (in Toledo), and about 5.5 hours from our main headquarters (in Cincinnati). This means I’m able to see my coworkers about once per quarter. The whole team (or at least part of the team) drives to our Toledo office, which is just about in the middle for all of us.
Even if you can only arrange for an in-person meeting once per year, try to have it on the calendar as soon as possible. Then you have something fun to look forward to! It makes it a lot easier to know when you’re going to see everyone.
Do Video Meetings and Video Conferences Whenever Possible
When I first started working remotely, one of the ground rules our senior leadership team set for me was that I’d do video conferences and video meetings as often as possible. Short, unplanned phone calls typically aren’t via video call, but almost all of my meetings are.
Not only are video conferences easier than phone conferences (seeing everyone’s face means you aren’t talking over each other because you can tell when someone is trying to say something!), they’re also much more personal. It’s closer to the vibe you’d get at an in-person meeting because you get to see the person you’re talking to.
Send Each Other Mail
This piece of advice is more geared toward the supervisors of remote employees, but if you’re the one working remotely, you can pass this along to your boss!
For my birthday a few weeks ago, my whole team got together and sent me a birthday card in the mail. It was a small thing, but it was so nice! One of them wrote “you do realize that if you were here, we’d have cake, right?” It was so funny and made me appreciate her that much more!
When you work in an office, you get a lot more handouts (literally!). Free food in the kitchen, cards on your birthday and work anniversary, etc. When you can, send those to remote workers, too. I guarantee they’ll appreciate it.
Allow Time for Personal Check-Ins During Meetings
When you’re in the office, it’s natural to have small talk about people’s lives. You run into each other in the kitchen and ask how they’re doing, or when you’re waiting for everyone else to join a meeting you catch up with the coworkers who are already there.
When you’re remote, that isn’t as easy to do. The only coworker you’ll meet at the coffee pot is your cat begging you for treats. Whenever you’re talking, it’s typically for a meeting with a specific purpose. And at those meetings, you want to be ~as productive as possible~ so chit-chat is typically discouraged.
To account for this, request time for some small talk at the beginning of your team meetings. Share good news, talk about weekend plans, etc. These short conversations will help you really feel connected to your team, because you’re getting to know everyone as people, instead of just as coworkers.
Working remotely is both a blessing and a curse. But with a little forethought (on your part and your boss’s!) you can diminish quite a few of the downsides.