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How to Build Strong Relationships Working Remotely: A Guide

With more than 12.7% of full-time employees working from home and 28.2% working on a hybrid model, remote working is a prevalent phenomenon now. It is known to make work more productive, time-saving, and enjoyable. 

However, as fulfilling as your work might be, what truly makes it worth it are the relationships you build along the way. These relationships might be a tad difficult to build remotely, as about 23% of people found loneliness to be a struggle while working from home. 

But remote work doesn’t necessarily have to mean remote connections. This article will explore strategies to help you cultivate strong, lasting relationships with remote colleagues. Learn how to build relationships working remotely and feel more engaged and productive at work.

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Importance and Challenges of Cultivating Work Relationships Remotely

Work relationships are an indispensable part of professional life. In a remote setting, these relationships become even more important as your team members don’t get face-to-face interaction. Therefore, knowing how to build relationships working remotely becomes more crucial.

Most people know that cultivating work relationships is beneficial. However, strong relationships with coworkers have even more significant benefits when working remotely. Let’s go over them.

Improved productivity

Positive work relationships improve individual performance and productivity by encouraging camaraderie among team members. It is quite natural—if you know your coworkers, you are more likely to openly share your opinions and not hesitate to work with them. 

When team members feel connected, they are more likely to share ideas freely, offer constructive feedback, and work together efficiently, leading to increased productivity. So, learning how to build relationships working remotely will pay off in the form of a more productive you.

Fosters collaboration 

Team collaboration is essential to the success of your projects. Strong work relationships help foster a sense of trust and open communication, which are crucial for effective collaboration. They also reduce the chances of miscommunication and ambiguity. 

Further, real-time collaboration ensures everyone is on the same page. So, there are fewer chances of confusion and more chances of everyone being clear about their work. 

Learn how to build relationships at work by bonding over shared interests
Building work relationships through shared personal interests via Unsplash

Better mental health and well-being

Your team members’ mental health and well-being directly impact their performance. Since they spend a large part of their day working, they must bond with each other, get to know each other, and develop good relationships. This will boost their morale and even improve their creativity. The chance to improve mental wellness makes learning how to make relationships working remotely quite critical.

Better employee engagement

Gallup has found that having best friends at work significantly impacts employee engagement. Your employees are likely to be more motivated, engage better with customers, share innovative ideas, and, most importantly, have fun while working

Having a friend means you have someone to support you during big project days or when facing tight deadlines. They provide a sounding board for your ideas, help you navigate challenges, and celebrate your successes, thus improving overall satisfaction. Having these kinds of supportive relationships with your coworkers can be a great source of comfort.

Challenges of cultivating work relationships remotely

Working remotely offers greater flexibility, a better work-life balance, and reduced costs. Yet many people tend to feel lonely while working from home. So, it is fair to say that remote working has its fair share of challenges, particularly in cultivating work relationships. 

Communication barriers

Remote work completely changes our experience of interacting with people. As we all know, communication is about more than just spoken words. It is about tone, body language, facial expressions, and more. And while remote collaboration tools are great, they cannot replace physical interaction. 

With digital tools, there is a possibility of communication becoming less effective because of:

  • The lack of immediate feedback, especially with asynchronous communication
  • Technological issues that impact the quality of communication.
  • Loss of tone in written or async communication leading to misunderstanding 

Less team interaction

When you work in a shared space, share the same lunch hour, attend events, or get coffee together, it is much easier to bond and connect. But the same doesn’t happen as easily in remote work. You only get to spend time together while working or during a meeting, which doesn’t create the same experience. 

Further, your chances of connecting and networking with people from different departments are reduced. This ultimately impacts your collaboration with coworkers and across departments. 

Lack of in-person meetings

The lack of face-to-face interactions is one of the biggest challenges of working from home. Non-verbal cues, spontaneous conversations, and informal socializing are a huge part of building relationships in the workplace. Water cooler talks often help build meaningful connections and share innovative ideas. 

All these opportunities are diminished in a remote environment, making your team members miss out on valuable insights and the chance to bond with their peers on a personal level. 

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How to Build Strong Relationships in a Remote Work Setting

Relationship building in a work-from-home setting requires some effort and dedication. Here are some effective strategies that’ll show you how to build relationships working remotely.

Be intentional 

Work relationships are easier to build when you share the same lunch break and workspace. In a remote setting where none of these are present, and you are alone in your home office setup, it is essential to communicate intentionally to build relationships. 

Therefore, schedule some time every week for informal check-ins and catch-ups with your colleagues and managers. Be creative with your ideas. You can schedule a virtual coffee break where you discuss the latest TV show you’re watching or the book you’re reading. You can also create special interest groups for better connections. 

Welcome new people by introducing yourself, offering help, or asking questions—the idea is to give the other person a space to talk. 

Pro Tip: Integrate your Google Calendar with ClickUp and schedule catch-ups conveniently with your remote team without needing to worry about time zones

Use written communication properly

In a remote setting, written communication becomes more relevant than ever. Emails, quick messages through workplace communication tools, and chats are frequently used. Therefore, it makes sense that you build relationships through writing. 

Writing well is more than just using correct grammar and being coherent. It is about overcoming the lack of verbal cues and conveying the right tone. Ensure your written message is friendly and doesn’t sound curt. 

For example, instead of writing, ‘need the report by 3 pm,’ which (in the absence of non-verbal cues) can come across as demanding or brusque, you could write, ‘Could you please send me the report by 3 pm? Thanks so much for your help!’ This minor adjustment softens the request and shows appreciation, making your communication more considerate. 

Pro Tip: Unsure if you’re striking the right tone in your communication? No sweat, ClickUp Brain’s AI Writer for Work has you covered. It can generate messages to your specifications, including tone, and also help you improve your own writing.

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Generate, summarize, proofread, enhance, and translate your reports, emails, and chats with ClickUp Brain’s AI Writer for Work 

Take advantage of communication tools

Written messages can get a lot done. However, when you’re chatting back and forth with multiple people on various channels, it’s easy to lose context or get confused. Moreover, chats cannot solve everything. 

Therefore, to build the most effective relationships, you need a communication tool that is smart enough not to let you lose context and versatile enough to fulfill all your communication requirements. 

An all-in-one productivity and digital communication tool like ClickUp streamlines your communication and ensures you form better relationships than ever. With ClickUp for Remote Teams, your teams can connect in real time.  

Here’s how you can use it:

  • Use ClickUp Docs to work together on ideas and projects—write, edit, and collaborate in one place
ClickUp 3.0 Whiteboards Collaboration
Collaborate seamlessly and share fun ideas with ClickUp Whiteboard
  • Brainstorm ideas, conduct team activities, and engage with your team with the ClickUp Whiteboards
  • Use 15+ customizable views to get a bird’s-eye view of your team’s productivity and project progress so everybody is on the same page
  • Create and share team goals with ClickUp Goals to build a sense of shared purpose
  • Use the ClickUp Inbox to communicate with your team across all tasks, Docs, Chats, and Lists from a single Inbox 
  • Hold virtual meetings through ClickUp’s integration with Zoom and simplify day-to-day work with its 1000+ other tool integrations
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  • Collaborate in real-time using ClickUp Chat—which brings communication and task management together
  • Use ClickUp Brain to summarize your chats and meeting notes to get the gist of the conversation in seconds
Reach your audience with the best communication strategy using ClickUp’s Communication Plan Template 
  • Leverage communication plan templates like ClickUp’s Communication Plan Template to create comprehensive communication plans. You can improve internal and external communications, ensure consistent communication, organize your strategy, and measure its success. The template is fully customizable and comes with custom statuses, fields, and views

Allow small talk during meetings

Small talk is often considered a waste of time. However, it is an incredible form of intentional communication. Research also suggests that small talk can enhance employees’ positive emotions at work and their well-being. 

The best place to implement small talk is during meetings. So, start or end your meetings with 5 minutes of informal conversation. Ask about each other’s lives, hobbies, fun facts, personalities, food, travel, etc. Don’t go for yes-or-no questions. Try to ask open-ended questions that help coworkers share interesting sides of themselves without getting too personal. 

You can also use icebreakers and other ways of making friends at work. The idea is to encourage some informal conversation and connect with people behind the screen. However, if you feel someone is not comfortable with small talk, it is best to let them be. 

Of course, small talk doesn’t mean your meeting should not have an agenda. It is essential to balance and ensure you achieve the objective of the meeting in the first place. 

Pro Tip: Running out of icebreaker ideas? Just ask ClickUp Brain for a list.

Hold virtual activities 

All work and no play doesn’t just make Jill and Jack dull; it kills the potential of discovery, mastery, and openness to change and flexibility, and it hinders innovation and invention.

That is why, just like you hold team-building activities in an office, it is essential to hold virtual activities in remote offices. 

This is where team-building apps come in handy. You can play online games, hold competitions or workshops, schedule video chats, and create virtual hangout zones for your team to connect informally and have fun. 

This can include creating special interest areas where people can chat about their specific hobbies. You can also schedule regular video calls where your team gets to talk about anything other than work. 

Find a mentor 

Remote mentorship programs are another effective way of increasing social and collaborative opportunities. Having mentors at the workplace gives employees a sense of belonging and a support system. It also benefits employees who may have trouble connecting with their remote teams.

Mentors can guide their mentees, give valuable advice, help them hone their skills, and make them a part of a larger community. 

Mentorship programs are fulfilling for the mentors as well. They get to share their experience, help other staff, and connect with new people in the organization. 

Hold face-to-face interactions

Working remotely doesn’t mean you cannot schedule offline meeting opportunities every once in a while. You can arrange team dinners, retreats, workcations, or informal meetups to connect with your team face-to-face.

This will give you a chance to spend some time with your team, build relationships, strengthen your collaboration, and even improve your creativity. 

You don’t have to overcomplicate your face-to-face meetings. If a retreat is not possible, you can simply meet them for coffee or lunch in the middle of the week. 

Make the transition to working from home easier with the Remote Work Template

These interactions are also helpful if your team has recently shifted online. It helps them adjust to their new work settings without feeling lonely. You can also use templates like the ClickUp Remote Work Plan Template to make it easier.  

The template helps create a comprehensive transition plan, outlines expectations, and tracks the transition’s progress. It provides a concrete structure to hold on to during a time of great change. 

Build effective client relationships remotely 

Building work relationships remotely isn’t just about your teams; it is also about your clients. Inspiring trust in a remote setting can be challenging if not done effectively. Using a smart project management tool like ClickUp can be a game-changer. Its rich features enable you to connect with your clients and ensure everyone is on the same page. 

Dayana Mileva, Account Director at Pontica Solutions, explains how they used ClickUp to build strong client relationships:

With ClickUp, we went one step ahead of the game and created dashboards where our clients can access and monitor performance, occupancy, and projects in real-time. This allows clients to feel connected to their teams, especially given that they are located in different countries, and sometimes even on different continents.

Dayana MilevaAccount Director at Pontica Solutions

Here are some other things you can do to build relationships with clients: 

  • Schedule regular meetings to discuss progress and updates
  • Use video conferencing tools to add a personal touch to your meetings. Start with small talk and then proceed to work
  • Send thank-you notes or emails to express your appreciation for their business. A little gratitude goes a long way in building a positive relationship
  • Pay close attention to client needs and feedback
  • Personalize your communication by referencing previous conversations
  • Set and manage clear expectations regarding timelines and deliverables
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Making the Most of Virtual Meetings

One of the most significant benefits of having virtual teams is that you can work from anywhere in the world. You can connect with your teams across the globe using video communication tools and hold virtual meetings regularly. 

Here’s how these tools help you make the most of virtual meetings:

  • They facilitate real-time conversation, making it easier to clarify misunderstandings immediately and engage in more dynamic discussions
  • Video conferencing can expedite decision-making processes as it allows for instant feedback and discussion
  • Video conferencing tools allow participants to join meetings from anywhere, making it easier to include remote employees, clients, and stakeholders
  • Regular video meetings help remote teams maintain a sense of connection and team spirit, reducing feelings of isolation
  • They enable seamless communication with clients, partners, and colleagues worldwide, facilitating global business operations and partnerships

Pro Tip: Instead of worrying about keeping notes, try to focus on the discussion and use a note-taking app to take meeting notes (or record your meeting). Afterward, you can use ClickUp Brain to not just summarize the notes or transcript for you but also extract action items and inform the team

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Effective Strategies for Team Onboarding and Integration

Imagine starting a new job and feeling like you’re floating in a sea of unfamiliar faces and processes with no lifeline in sight. This is often the reality for remote employees who miss out on the traditional in-person onboarding experience. 

Effective remote team onboarding is crucial for integrating new hires into the company culture and building strong relationships from day one. Here are some strategies you can use for effective team onboarding:

Pre-onboarding preparation

For pre-onboarding, consider sending a welcome package that includes essential equipment, a personalized welcome note, etc. Ensure all necessary tools and accounts are set up and accessible. 

Create a plan

Develop a detailed orientation schedule that includes meetings, training sessions, and team introductions. Set clear, achievable objectives for the initial period.

Pro Tip: Use onboarding templates to create an effective onboarding plan quickly. You can also use ClickUp Docs to build a shareable knowledge base about your company, which can help newcomers onboard faster.

Personalized introduction

Arrange virtual meet-and-greet sessions with team members to help new hires build their network. You can also pair them with a buddy or mentor to provide guidance, answer questions, and offer support. 

Comprehensive training

Provide role-specific training to help new employees understand their responsibilities. It is also best to include sessions on company values, cultures, and missions. 

Effective communication channels

Ensure your new employees are familiar with the team’s communication tools. Also, schedule regular check-ins with managers and team leaders to discuss progress and provide feedback. 

Engaging onboarding activities 

To foster camaraderie and teamwork, incorporate interactive activities like Q&A sessions, virtual tours, online games, workshops, and virtual happy hours. 

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Understanding and Addressing the Challenges of Online Relationships

Building and maintaining relationships has its fair share of limitations. From the lack of non-verbal cues to miscommunication, there are many challenges. Let’s understand some of them, along with how you can address them. 

Lack of non-verbal cues

Online communication often lacks the non-verbal cues, such as body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice, that are crucial for understanding emotions and intent. In fact, the 7-38-55 rule indicates that only 7% of our communication is verbal. 

To overcome this challenge, use video calls whenever possible. This will help add a visual element to your communication. When using text, be explicit with your words. You can also use emojis or GIFs to convey emotions and tone.
If you can’t arrange a video call for any reason, the next best thing is a screen recording! Walk your coworkers through the details by recording your screen and sharing it with ClickUp Clips

How to build relationships working remotely: Use tools like ClickUp Clips
Use ClickUp Clips to record a video and voiceover and share your ideas clearly

Miscommunications and misunderstandings 

The absence of immediate feedback and the nuances of written texts can lead to misinterpretations and misunderstandings. There’s also the possibility of misinterpreting the tone or intent of the text.

To address this challenge, soften the message while being clear and concise. Follow up on important conversations with a summary to ensure mutual understanding

Building trust

Establishing trust can be more challenging online due to the lack of face-to-face interactions and the increased chances of miscommunication. 

To solve this problem you must be reliable and consistent in your communications. Set clear expectations and follow through on commitments. Hold regular video meetings to build a sense of familiarity and trust. 

Maintaining engagement

Another significant challenge of online relationships is that they can easily feel impersonal. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Moreover, it is also difficult to keep everyone engaged and motivated. 

To overcome this constraint, you can hold regular virtual team-building activities, social events, and informal check-ins. Use online tools such as polls, breakout rooms, collaborative whiteboards, etc., to engage everyone and build personal connections

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Build Powerful Online Relationships With ClickUp

If you can laugh together, you can work together.

Robert OrbenProfessional comedy writer

Having positive relationships at work affects your mental well-being, motivation, and productivity, and makes all the difference between satisfaction and disengagement with your job.

Relationship building was easier in a traditional work setting, with many opportunities for informal conversations. However, the same is not true for remote settings. 

In this article, we sought to answer the question of how to build relationships while working remotely. Intentional communication is a must to build relationships in remote environments. 

You have to create opportunities to get to know your team members and bond with them. This can be achieved through virtual activities, allowing small talks during meetings, and using communication tools. 

ClickUp is a project management and collaboration tool that enables you to build lasting relationships and avoid miscommunications. Sign up for free today!

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