How to develop rapport with remote workers

More than five million people in the U.S. work from home half the time or more. As this number continues to grow, more employers are adopting new tricks for managing and collaborating with remote workers.

Developing rapport with an employee can be difficult when you rarely ever see them in person. While it’s not impossible to get to know someone through emails and phone calls, the distance will certainly have an impact on your professional relationship and your systems for getting things done. 

Here are some good tips to keep in mind when managing a remote workforce.

Make yourself available

You won’t be able to build rapport with your employees if you’re constantly too busy to connect with them.

Make sure you have enough open space on your calendar for impromptu meetings, phone calls, etc. And let your employees know that they can reach out to you at any time during the workday with questions or concerns. Creating a more open, welcoming environment like this will help your remote workers do their jobs better and feel more respected.

Rely on video conferencing

Video conferencing is an essential tool for remote work teams.

Seeing the faces of those you’re speaking to makes a huge difference, whether you’re hosting a meeting or privately chatting with someone. Video calls enable colleagues to make eye contact, nod in agreement, and use other types of body language to get on the same page.

Share stuff through business messaging applications

There are many team-based messaging apps that will help you and your remote employees communicate more efficiently. Some of the most popular platforms include Slack, Microsoft Teams, Flock and Discord.

These apps can act as a digital water cooler. Remote teams often use them to share music, pictures, stories, .GIFs and more. Engaging with your employees on things that don’t necessarily have to do with work will help you get to know them on a more personal level.   

Get together for company events

You should make an effort to socialize with your employees in person at least a couple times a year. This may be easier said than done, depending on how large your remote workforce is and how spread apart they are.

But if your company’s budget will allow for it, plan company-wide parties, dinners and other events that your team can come together for. After sharing in-person experiences with them, you’ll feel much closer to your employees. 

Check in frequently

Having an active interest in the day-to-day work of your employees will go a long way. Don’t let weeks go by without making any contact whatsoever with your team.

Rather, send short messages to your employees, asking them how their day is going, if they need help with anything, or what their plans are for the weekend. These simple acts will help you create a stronger relationship with your remote workers.