Remote work has become increasingly popular over the past decade, but with the recent pandemic, it has become a necessity for many. As a result, many people have faced unique challenges when trying to work from home, including social isolation, lack of motivation, and difficulty in maintaining work-life balance. However, remote work doesn’t have to be all negatives. Building a community can be an essential aspect of succeeding as a remote worker. In this article, we’ll explore how remote work can help you connect with professionals in your field and how you can cultivate strong relationships online.
The rise of remote work
Remote work has been on the rise over the past decade. According to a study conducted by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, in 2019, 4.7 million people in the U.S. worked remotely at least half of the time. That was up from 3.9 million in 2015, representing a 22% increase in just four years.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend, with companies around the world suddenly realizing the feasibility and benefits of remote work. Millions of workers were forced to work from home, but what started as a response to a public health crisis has now become a new normal.
The benefits of remote work
Remote work offers several benefits to both employees and employers. For employees, it provides greater flexibility and work-life balance, as they have the freedom to work from anywhere and set their own schedules. It also reduces the stress of commute and allows them to save time and money, leading to increased job satisfaction.
For employers, remote work allows them to access a larger talent pool, as they’re not restricted by geographical location when hiring. It also reduces overhead costs such as office space, utilities, and supplies, making it a more cost-effective option. Remote workers tend to be more productive, as they’re not distracted by office politics or interruptions.
However, remote work can also have its challenges. Many remote workers report feeling isolated, disconnected from their colleagues, and struggling to maintain motivation and focus. This is where building a community can be incredibly helpful.
Why community is important for remote workers
Working remotely can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from your colleagues. However, building a community can help you overcome these challenges. A group of like-minded individuals can provide support, encouragement, and advice when needed. It can also help you build a strong network that can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations.
Developing a sense of community can also help you stay engaged and motivated at work. When you feel connected to others, you’re less likely to experience burnout or lose enthusiasm for your job. Regular interactions with colleagues help you stay up-to-date on industry news and trends, which can improve your work and keep you relevant in your field.
How to build a community online
Building a community online can seem daunting, but the truth is, it’s easier than you might think. The key is to be intentional about connecting with others, and to use multiple platforms to create opportunities for interaction. Here are some strategies to help you build a community online:
Join professional groups
One of the best ways to connect with other professionals online is to join professional groups on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Slack. These groups are a great way to connect with other remote workers in your field, share ideas, ask questions, and find support.
When joining a professional group, take the time to read the group’s rules, introduce yourself, and engage regularly. Consistently contributing to the group’s discussions will help you become a more recognizable and active member of the community.
Attend online events
Another way to connect with other remote workers is to attend online events, such as webinars, conferences, or meetups. These events give you the chance to learn new skills, hear from industry experts, and chat with others in your field.
Many organizations have moved their events online, making it easier to attend from anywhere. When taking part in an online event, make sure to attend with an open mind, listen actively, and engage with others in the event’s chat or Q&A.
Use social media
Social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram can also be great places to connect with other remote workers. Follow industry leaders, join relevant hashtags, and engage with others to start building your network.
Using social media effectively means finding the right balance of promotion and engagement. Share interesting content that’s relevant to your field, ask questions, and show support for others. Use social media to start conversations and build relationships, not just to self-promote.
Take advantage of video conferencing
Video conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Meet are excellent ways to connect with others in a more personal way. You can use these platforms to arrange virtual coffee chats or networking events, where you can meet other remote workers face-to-face.
When setting up a virtual coffee chat, make sure to come prepared with some ideas for discussion. You can talk about industry trends, how you got into your field, or even personal interests. Try to keep the conversation light and fun, and be respectful of others’ time.
Offer to collaborate
One of the best ways to build relationships with others in your field is to offer to collaborate on a project or share your expertise. Look for opportunities to work on joint projects or offer to contribute to online discussions or blogs.
When offering to collaborate, make sure to tailor your pitch to the person or group you’re reaching out to. Explain how your skills or experience can help the project, and be clear about what you need from them. A well-crafted collaboration pitch can lead to a long-term, fruitful working relationship.
Tips for maintaining strong relationships
Building relationships online can take time, effort, and intentionality. Here are some tips to help you maintain strong connections with other remote workers:
- Be consistent
Regularly engage with others, whether that means commenting on their posts or sharing relevant articles. This consistency will help you stay top of mind and build a strong, ongoing relationship.
- Be authentic
Be genuine in your interactions, share your experiences honestly, and ask questions or give feedback that shows your interest.
- Listen actively
Pay attention to what others are sharing, and ask follow-up questions to show that you value their input. Understanding where your peers are coming from can help you learn from them and strengthen your relationship.
- Be supportive
Finally, support and encourage other remote workers in your network. Share their projects, highlight their successes, and congratulate them on achievements. Reciprocity is key to building a supportive community.
Remote work can be rewarding, but it can also be isolating, leading to feelings of loneliness and disconnection. However, building a community can help you avoid these challenges while connecting you with other professionals in your field. Take the time to join professional groups, attend online events, use social media, be open to collaboration, and stay consistent in your interactions. By following these strategies and maintaining authentic, supportive relationships, you can create a vibrant community that can help you thrive as a remote worker.
As remote work continues to rise in popularity, building a community online is becoming more important than ever. Whether you’re a freelancer, self-employed, or a full-time remote employee, building relationships and connections with others in your field can be beneficial. Not only can it provide support and motivation, but it can also lead to new opportunities and collaborations.
While building a community online can feel daunting, it doesn’t have to be. By being intentional about connecting and utilizing multiple platforms, you can build a strong network of like-minded professionals. Whether you join professional groups, attend online events, use social media, take advantage of video conferencing or offer to collaborate, consistency and authenticity are key to maintaining strong relationships.
In conclusion, remote work can provide many benefits, but it can also be challenging, and building a community is an essential aspect of succeeding remotely. By taking the time to connect with other professionals online, you can create a supportive network that will help you stay motivated, engaged, and relevant in your field.