Remote work is no longer a remote possibility for most workers.
Long before COVID-19 forced us to shelter in place and work from home, large numbers of workers were finding themselves working more consistently in settings remote from their company offices.
The pandemic just fast-tracked this trend. It brought remote work to the masses and has shifted the expectation for in-person interactions, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t desiring connection to others. As a matter of fact, isolation has increased our desire to be connected to our fellow humans.
We thrive on connection with others. Even though our business is done remotely, how do we attend to the connections that we need to make with our customers and team members?
Here are three helpful ways for you to increase connection with your remote customers and team members:
- Carve out intentional time for personal chatter. When we interact with people face to face, we pick up on contextual cues and tend to more naturally ask neutral, personal questions before jumping to the point. This can feel much less natural in virtual spaces. We have been trained by our devices to get to the point and to be short on words. Such directness cuts out the very real value that “small talk” brings to our ability to connect with others. We might hate small talk, but carving out just a few minutes for this connection-building chatter will serve us well in remote situations.
- Connect with customers and colleagues on social media (if your company allows that). In a way, social media has already created a place to connect across the “social distance.” People are used to “hanging out” online – catching up on what’s happening by scrolling their social feeds. We “friend” people and get to know them through their social posts, so why waste that opportunity to connect with team members and customers? NOTE- You should have a very appropriate presence on social media no matter what, but if you are going to reach out to customers and colleagues, you’ll need to be extra sure of it.
- Touch base with people through texting or emailing. You might already text or email your customers and team members, but what’s the purpose behind those messages? In the world of remote connections, we have to be more intentional about our written messages and use them in ways that help us build on our connections. Did a customer tell you about his daughter’s graduation on your last call? Before your next meeting, ask how she’s doing. Touch base with that team member who mentioned that she was way behind on her current project. Text a “Just thinking about our call and wondering what questions you still have” message to that new customer you met virtually the other day.
In a remote world, we have to be very intentional about our attempts to reach out to people. And since people desire connection, we are serving them by seeking to connect with them.
These tips can go a long way in helping you make connections with people that will show them that you care. Follow them, and there will be more than a remote possibility that your relationships will flourish, even when working remotely.