Career Advice Workplace

Building Relationships When You Join a Company Virtually

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By: Kaylyn McKenna
Sep 15, 2020 • 7 min read

Building Relationships with Coworkers When You Join a Company Virtually

Congratulations on landing a new job! Now it’s time to get to work and build relationships with your team. Here is everything you need to know about forming relationships when joining a company virtually.

Organize One-On-One Introductions

Try to find opportunities to connect individually with your new coworkers. You can ask your trainer or supervisor to help you set up some relevant intro calls. When you work in an office with your coworkers, it’s a lot easier to understand the different teams and roles. Still, when you start a new job remotely, it helps to get an overview and individually meet the people that you may need to interact with. Meeting your new team all at once is an excellent first step, but try to set up one-on-ones afterward so that you can get to know your new coworkers and also learn where they fit into the team. 

Ways To Initiate Introductions: 

  • Visit each new team member’s office to introduce yourself
  • Offer to get coffee after your first day
  • Ask to have lunch together during break time

More to explore: Building Trust With Coworkers 

buttons and thumbtacks beside planner book on table

Set-Up Work Calls

As you jump into your new role, don’t be afraid to request calls. If you find yourself emailing back and forth extensively with a particular person about a project, you can ask if they have time to have a short zoom or call to straighten out the details or answer questions. This can often be clearer and more efficient than a long string of emails, and it gives you a chance to get to know the person that you are working with better.

Example email asking for a call:

“Hello xyz,

I am thrilled to join your team and become a member of this awesome community. I am about one week in and have greatly enjoyed the experience so far. Since I am transitioning to the company remotely, I am hoping to jump on a call with everyone so that I can have the opportunity to introduce myself. Are you available tomorrow at 3pm for a short virtual hello? Let me know what works best for you! I look forward to speaking.

Best,

Name”

Be an Active Participant in Team Communications

If the team that you’ve joined uses Slack or another collaborative communication platform, participate. This can be intimidating to newcomers, but you can start small. If someone shares a professional win or even just a fun photo of their pet or vacation, give it a like and leave a kind or encouraging comment. This is a quick and straightforward way to make a positive impression on others. Work up to sharing your own content or even a simple post wishing everyone a nice weekend. Once people recognize your name, they’ll be more open to speaking with you.

More to explore: Team Brainstorming Tips 

Set a Goal

If you’re on the more introverted side or simply really busy in your new role, it can be challenging to meet everyone at once, and you may feel overwhelmed with too many introductions or calls. If you fall into this category, set a goal for yourself. You can try to connect with one coworker a week for a one-on-one or set up a work lunch.

Join Committees or Groups

Some office groups or committees still meet remotely, especially if your company is only temporarily remote. Lots of offices will have a safety committee or a group that helps plan the office events. Larger companies may have interest-based clubs or groups. Volunteer yourself for these things to become more active socially in the company. This will help you build connections when joining a company virtually. 

Ways to get involved: 

  • Inquire about fundraising groups
  • Learn if your company offers any scholarships or charity you can help with
  • Join virtual happy hours
  • Invite friends to connect on Linkedin and other professional networking sites

two white and beige pens on white paper

Find a Mentor

Most established professionals like to help others grow in their field. If there is someone in the company that you admire or who holds a position you hope to attain one day, don’t be shy or intimidated. Reach out and let them know that you are interested in their work. If they’ve worked on research or a project, you’re interested in, that can be a great conversation starter. If they write a blog or share posts on LinkedIn, let them know which one you’ve connected with most. Even just asking them how they got to their current position and asking for advice can be well-received. It will help with your personal and professional development while granting you a resource in the company to go to when you need help.

More to explore: How to Find a College Mentor 

Find Common Interests

This works in person and remotely! Common interests can lay the groundwork for relationship building. The main difference is that you’ll need to pay a bit more attention and work a bit harder when trying to find common interests with remote coworkers. In the office, you’ll get to observe their fashion, the photos on their desk, what they’re having for lunch, and just generally engage in more small talk. Make a bit of polite small talk at the start of calls by asking how their weekend was and find some common ground. Try to steer the conversation towards topics that people generally like talking about, such as their kids, pets, hobbies, or favorite sports team.

Appropriate things to ask in a workplace setting:

  • Relevant sporting events
  • Music, Tv, and other entertainment
  • Important life events such as weddings, births, and vacations

Topics to avoid: 

  • Inquiring about an employee who took time off
  • Personal questions
  • Office politics, unless you read our blog here first!

Remember Where Everyone Lives (and other relevant facts about their lives)

Not exactly where they live – but the region. If you’re all temporarily remote due to COVID, this won’t help much. Still, if you’ve joined one of the many companies moving towards a permanently distributed workforce, it does make a difference. Talking about the weather in different areas is a classic when it comes to small talk. Beyond just making small talk, it also helps you create a more personal connection and show your support when needed. 2020 has been crazy everywhere, but one of the most thoughtful things you can do as a remote coworker is to take a second to check in over Slack or at the start of a call if there is something like a hurricane or wildfire in the state that your coworker lives in. Also, try to remember things they’ve told you about their families, so you have relevant questions to ask them when you talk to them. See how their kids are doing back at school or what they’re doing for spring break. Simple questions that show you listen and spark friendly conversation.

More to explore: Supporting Co-workers During COVID 

An open empty notebook on a white desk next to an iPhone and a MacBook

Keep It Work Appropriate

While forming relationships at work is excellent, be sure to keep things work appropriate. It’s a lot easier for both sides to misinterpret words when communicating digitally, so be wary of making any edgy jokes or romantic advances. Body language and tone of voice provide a lot of context clues in communication, so keep written communications clear and professional unless you have already formed a close friendship with a coworker. Small talk, jokes, and casual conversation flows best over zoom or the phone where you can get immediate feedback on whether your joke landed or if someone looks uncomfortable.

More to explore: How to Keep Your Personal Life Out Of The Workplace

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