It can be difficult to maintain business relationships when you are working remotely. The lack of face-to-face interaction with your colleagues can leave a big gap in productive communication. This blog offers some ways for you to stay connected to your colleagues and business connections when working from home.
1. Less Emailing, More Video Communication
When you’re emailing all day long without actually speaking to someone, it can feel redundant and unproductive. Zoom, Skype and Facetime offer a better solution to professional workplace communication for someone who is working remotely. Video communication keeps you connected with your colleagues while being face-to-face and able to talk freely. Being able to have one solid conversation about all the things you need answers to is much more effective than a day of emails back and forth. Of course, emails are fine for casual questions, but solving an issue or brainstorming solutions/strategy is best-done face-to-face. Video communication can also keep you motivated because you and your colleagues can easily bounce ideas off of each other while feeling connected to the outside world.
2. Schedule One-On-One Time with Your Boss Each Week
You want to make sure you are on the same page as your boss, so scheduling time to speak frequently is important. Write down all the things you want to speak about leading up to the meeting and use this time to have a productive conversation. Meeting one-on-one allows you to ask questions, uninterrupted, and get that human interaction. You can meet as much as you need to throughout the week, and email is also open if the questions can’t wait.
3. Stay Available During the Work Day and Communicate Work Hours
Being at home where your bed, couch, animals, and TV are can offer some distractions, but it’s crucial to stay available during the day for any work emergencies and responsibilities. It’s best to set a specific time to work, in a specific place that way you have a dedicated time for work. You should communicate your work hours to your colleagues so they know when you are available, and make sure you stay available during that time. Scheduling a specific time for work allows you to stay focused and put all your energy toward your work tasks. You can check out our post on 12 Tips on Working from Home Efficiently for more ways to avoid distractions at home.
4. Work at the Same Time as your Colleagues
Setting a schedule that corresponds with your colleagues can help make your workday more productive. Emailing questions to people is no help if they are already logged off for the day. If you are working opposite hours of each other, you may not be able to get the answers you need, when you need them and likewise. You want to be able to be there for your colleagues when they need you and them be there when you need them.
5. Utilize Slack
Slack is a valuable communication tool that allows you to share new ideas, brainstorm and communicate with your colleagues or potential new connections. It provides a channel to talk freely and socialize professionally or casually with other slack users. Slack allows you to find groups by searching any topic or hashtags relevant to you.
6. Join LinkedIn Groups Relevant to you
LinkedIn acts as a business and employment-oriented service to network professionally through job postings, groups and social posts. You can utilize LinkedIn to portray yourself professionally and get your name in front of other people by posting engaging content.
Engaging with others on LinkedIn brings great opportunities for finding new connections and networking with people you may have never got a chance to meet in a real-life scenario. The ability to digitally connect allows you to expand your network and further your knowledge in your industry/the professional world. LinkedIn offers groups, which are virtual meeting spaces, for people with similar interests to hold conversations to learn more and share their knowledge. These groups allow you to form and grow relationships with people who have the same interests as you, which can lead to many opportunities. It may be a good idea to start your search for relevant groups by connecting with your former classmates and go from there.
7. Volunteer at Local Charities
Volunteer work can be another way for you to meet and build meaningful relationships with people who have similar interests to you. You likely share some things in common with the people volunteering with you because you all chose this place for a reason. Put yourself out there at volunteering events and make an effort to have conversations with those around you.
8. Work from a different environment other than your home
Working from home can feel lonely when you are there 24/7. With all the distractions, it can be best to step away from your home for a few hours when you’re trying to work. Even with video communication, you may need a new place to work every once in a while to spark creativity. Getting out of the house can be essential to staying focused and motivated. Coffee shops, libraries or cafes are great places to take a break from your home and get some work done. Another place that some cities offer is co-working spaces.
Co-working spaces are office spaces that people from different companies and industries can go to and work from. These spaces are designed for cost-saving and convenience through the shared use of equipment, utilities, custodial and receptionist services. They offer affordable office space for people who are looking to escape the self-isolation of working from home. This can be a productive way of meeting new people and build relationships with people in different industries and companies to expand knowledge and gain opportunities.
Co-working spaces, coffee shops, libraries, etc. can serve as the host for a co-working session with your coworkers. Set up a day to invite your coworkers to come and work with you. Setting up an in-person co-working day can help keep you feeling involved in the company and allow a different way of communication with your colleagues.
9. Network at Industry Events and Conferences
Industry events or conferences provide an opportunity to build relationships within your industry and gain more knowledge. It’s important to keep learning about the industry you are in so you can be the best possible version of yourself. To achieve that you have to continue learning and evolving with the industry. Things very rarely stay the same for a long time with the evolving technological world and constantly changing work environment. Put yourself out there and attend events even if you don’t have a direct interest in them. Ask questions, listen, take notes, and mingle with your peers.
10. Participate in Hobbies
Participating in your hobbies may seem like it doesn’t relate to work or business connections, but a lot of people can build professional relationships over things they enjoy. Finding a genuine connection with someone over performing a hobby and then networking with them professionally is likely to create a meaningful relationship.
Putting yourself out there to make connections is essential to networking. You won’t be able to meet people if you are not willing to put yourself in an unfamiliar situation. Step outside of your comfort zone and try some of these tips to help maintain and build relationships while working from home.