Many of us remember a time when we worked with others and created a strong bond. For me, that was meeting one of my best friends while making coffee and sandwiches at cafe. For others, that could be the person in the cubicle next to you, or someone in the other department that you always run into at the water cooler. Either way, making friends at work is extremely important.
Science shows that making friends at work will lead to higher job satisfaction and decreased stress. It also leads to more effective teams, which is why working remotely — away from coworkers — can be difficult.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Even if you are working remotely, and on the other side of the worlds from your coworkers and boss, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice work friendships. In truth, there are a couple ways to create meaningful bonds and therefore a more effective team, even if you are working thousands of miles away.
How? Just as you tell your boss what you are doing, talk to your coworkers — both should be seen as a must in any job setting. Being remote means not talking face to face, but with so many apps and new technology out there, don’t let that be an excuse to not chat it up with your coworkers.
Here are some ideas on how to create bonds with your coworkers and hopefully create an effective team, no matter where you are.
Gone but not forgotten.
Even if you are thousands of miles away from all your other coworkers doesn’t mean you should simply cut yourself off from them. Don’t let them forget that you are an integral part of the team. Instead, every so often send them messages about what you thought of their work, ask their opinion on things, or just send a funny meme. Anything to remind them that just because you are working in Bora Bora does not mean you don’t care about work or that you are just doing your own thing.
Quick, easy conversations are a good way to stay a part of a team and to create bonds with your coworkers. This can be especially useful down the road if you want their advice or a recommendation.
Create your own water cooler.
A water cooler has always been an important part of an office: it is the perfect place for people to meet and discuss things on their mind, both work-related and not. But if you are gone how can you create place to talk to others? Luckily, with so many communication apps it is actually quite simple. Use Google Hangouts or Skype, or if you can’t use a video app for some reason, simply go back to basics and just call.
Finding a way to do it is the easy part. The hard part is actually following through and making it an important part of your day. But it is integral to have a time and place to talk to coworkers about things, so just try to make it a habit.
Develop your own office environment.
While making friends at your actual office is important, even when you are away all the time. There is something to be said about having a support system or office friends in your new office environment — we are talking fellow digital nomads and remote workers who often hang out at the same co-working spaces or coffee shops as you do.
No matter where you are, having some support system is important — at No Desk Project we strive to create an atmosphere that allows everyone to work hard, bounce ideas off each other but also to create bonds that hopefully last long past the month long retreat.
Schedule it out.
With so many communication apps out there it is easy to think we can talk to each other all the time, not matter what the time is. But there are definitely times that are more acceptable or more helpful than others. For example, messaging your boss at eight or nine their time (or whenever the office usually opens) is probably smarter than messaging them at seven o’clock at night. When working remotely, it can sometimes be hard to remember time differences.
So instead of worrying about whether your boss saw your message, just plan a specific time to talk to each other. It might also be smart to come prepared with important questions you want to ask and a list of things you want to do or have done. Scheduling short, simple check-ins is a smart idea since it helps you plan ahead, think critically about ideas you have and figure out things that were bothering you.
Be in-person when you can.
Are you planning a trip back to the office between your next amazing world adventure? If so, make the time to just talk to your coworkers face to face. It doesn’t have to be a long talk, just a time to catch up and put a real face to all the online messaging. Sitting down, grabbing a coffee or drink is a great way to build on the relationship you have been sowing for the past couple weeks a part.
To make a great impression, go back and look at old messages or work they have done recently and bring that up. Anything to make it seem that you are completely in touch with all the offices happenings, even if you just arrived from some distant, exotic land.
Building bonds at work is an integral part of office life. The average American spends 40 hours a week at work (sometimes more), meaning around 23 percent of their adult life will be in an office. That likely means you will spend more time with your coworkers than your friends. So it just kind of makes sense to build a relationship with your coworkers. Now we aren’t saying they need to be your only friends, but it doesn’t hurt to learn a bit about them and figure out if you have anything in common. Or at the very least, just send them a couple cat memes.