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Beyond the Office: Strategies for Building Meaningful Relationships with Remote Employees

As technology has continued to advance and the world has become more connected, remote work has become an increasingly popular model for businesses. It allows companies to save on office space, and employees to enjoy the flexibility of working from wherever they choose. With this trend, however, comes some significant challenges. One of the most notable of these is the difficulty of building meaningful relationships with remote employees. Without regular in-person interaction, it can be tough to cultivate a sense of trust, camaraderie, and shared purpose.

Fortunately, there are strategies that leaders can use to overcome this challenge. These strategies centre on creating a sense of community, open communication, and recognition. Here are some approaches to consider when seeking to build more meaningful relationships with a remote team.

Creating a sense of community

In a traditional office setting, socializing often happens organically. Employees grab lunch together, chat over coffee, or catch up in the break room. However, when employees work remotely, these types of interactions disappear, creating a void that can be filled by intentional effort. Building a sense of community is essential in developing trust and camaraderie amongst remote employees.

  1. Virtual Water Coolers: Setting up a virtual water cooler for informal conversations is an excellent place to start. This could be a designated chat channel or an ongoing video conference room where employees can drop in and out as they please.
  2. Shared Interests: Encourage employees to share their interests and hobbies outside of work. This could be done through a forum or Slack channel, where employees can connect over shared passions.
  3. Team Celebrations: Celebrate milestones, successes, and important events with your team. Events could include a virtual team-building event or an online social celebration, such as virtual happy hours.
  4. Company Culture: This is the glue that holds the team together. Foster the development of a company culture by building a shared ethos and values that employees can buy into.
  5. Employee Support: Let your remote employees know that they are valued, supported and their work is much appreciated. Regularly checking in with them and providing opportunities for feedback is a great way to do this.
  6. Mentoring programs: Consider establishing formal mentorship programs that pair remote workers with in-office staff. This can help establish a sense of community, and the mentors can provide valuable insight and support to their mentees.
  7. Virtual Coffee Chats: Consider setting up virtual coffee chats or one-on-one meetings between remote employees and other members of the team. This can help remote workers feel more connected and can also help them build relationships with their peers.
  8. Meet-Ups: Have regular meet-ups with your remote team members. Coordinating a few times a year to bring your remote workers together will help them feel more connected to the company, meet their colleagues face-to-face and strengthen remote partnerships.

    By creating a sense of community and connection, remote teams can feel more engaged in their work and can perform better as a result.

    Communicating openly and frequently

    Open communication is another critical component of building relationships with remote employees. Without the ability to drop by each other’s desks, it’s essential to make communication as easy and seamless as possible. This will need you to leverage a variety of communication channels to maintain an open flow of communication.

    1. Regular Check-Ins: Have regular check-ins with team members to touch base on progress and offer support. Scheduled weekly or bi-weekly check-ins via video conferencing can help keep your team connected, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
    2. Use Video: Whenever possible, use video conferencing for team meetings, one-on-one conversations, and presentations. Video allows you to read body language and pick up on nonverbal cues that might be missed in text-based communication.
    3. Don’t Overload On Email: It’s easy to get bogged down by endless email threads, so try to keep email communication to a minimum. Use chat tools like Slack or direct messaging instead.
    4. Use Project Management Tools: Using agile project management tools like Asana or Jira can help teams stay in sync and ensure that everyone knows what they need to do and when they need to do it. It’s also essential to be mindful of time zones when communicating with your remote employees. Respect their working hours and accommodate their time zone as much as possible.
    5. Feedback Sessions: Encourage feedback from remote employees, and respond to it promptly. This will help remote workers feel heard and valued.
    6. Create a Transparent Workplace: Foster transparency and open communication across the company. This means sharing information about the company’s plans, goals and the metrics you use to measure success. Remote employees must have access to the same information as in-office staff.

    By maintaining open communication with remote employees, you can ensure that everyone is working in sync, and concerns are addressed promptly.

    Recognizing achievements and contributions

    It can be challenging for remote workers to feel like they’re part of the team when they’re isolated from the day-to-day of the office. Recognition can help to bridge that gap, and it can go a long way in fostering a sense of loyalty, motivation, and commitment amongst remote workers. Here are some ways to recognize achievements and contributions:

    1. Public Recognition: Consider publicizing individual or team achievements through email, Slack channels or other communication channels. Doing this helps to foster a sense of community and encourages remote workers to celebrate each other’s successes.
    2. Rewards and Acknowledgments: Consider offering rewards or acknowledgments for excellent work, such as gift cards, extra time off, or public recognition.
    3. Celebrate Key Milestones: Acknowledge birthdays, work anniversaries, and other milestones with your remote team members.
    4. Encourage Personal Growth: Encourage remote employees to develop their skills and pursue professional development. They’re more likely to feel valued if they feel like their company is invested in their growth.
    5. Encourage Knowledge-Sharing: Encourage remote employees to share what they’re learning with the rest of the team. This can be done through group chats, virtual presentations, or articles.
    6. Invest In Online Learning: Consider investing in online learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera or Udemy. This gives remote employees access to a wide range of courses to develop their skills.
    7. Offer Opportunities for Collaboration: Encourage remote workers to collaborate with their in-office peers, this may be on projects, contributing to online discussion boards or leading presentations together.
    8. Encourage Following Industry Thought Leaders and Influencers: Encourage remote employees to follow industry trends, leaders, influencers and participate in group forums to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry.


    As remote work continues to grow in popularity, it’s vital for company leaders to develop strategies for building meaningful relationships with their remote employees. Creating a sense of community, open communication and recognition are all critical in cultivating a sense of trust, unity, and shared purpose amongst teams. Building and maintaining such relationships may be challenging, but with the right approach and effort, it is possible to create thriving and successful remote teams.

    In addition to the strategies mentioned above, leaders must remain open to experimenting with new approaches to build meaningful relationships with remote workers. As technology continues to advance, there will always be new tools and methods for supporting remote staff-adopting a growth mindset will go a long way in supporting a culture of experimentation that prioritizes remote workers’ well-being and job satisfaction.

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