It’s About Being Intentional

I’ve written before about the importance of communication for any job, but it’s different when you have a remote team.

Being remote is different. You have to over-communicate to make sure that people are in the loop. You have to create collaboration opportunities and build camaraderie purposefully, and they can’t be team trust falls. You have to get creative about how you work together and interact.

Most of all, you have to be purposeful about it. You have to create opportunities for people to interact and allow them the freedom to create their own patterns and relationships. You have to learn how to work asynchronously so that you can have more meaningful meetings.

I’ve said it so often that some of you might even be tired of hearing it, but I want to take that same thought and apply it somewhere else.

I came across an article this week about the isolation of working remotely.

Overcoming Isolation in Remote Work: Building Connections in a Virtual World

They offered some ideas for how to build or maintain connections but as I read them I kept coming back to that same word, intentional. When I’ve talked about the culture of a team or communicating with your team I’ve thought a lot about how we have always been a bit lazy. We’ve simply allowed the culture to exist based on putting people in the same space and communication just magically happened! That’s been true for managers but all of us have gotten lazy when it comes to areas of our own lives. When I read about the importance of workplace friends, for example, I started thinking about intention again. The reason workplace friends have become such an important part of our lives is because that’s the easy place to make friends. We spend enough time working together that sometimes we become good friends. (Side note – I met my wife at work, and have a great number of friends I met at work. I’m not against the idea. I’ve clearly benefitted from it. But, because I could make friends there I haven’t put much effort into meeting people outside of work.)

As I said, it’s not that being a remote worker means we won’t have any friends. We just have to be more intentional about it. We have to find ways to interact socially with our current friends and be in spaces, physical and virtual, where we can meet new people.

You’ll read plenty of hot takes about remote work. Whether it be how difficult it is to build any culture or connect with your team, you’ll get lonely, you won’t get promoted, or mentored, etc. It’s not that the authors of these posts are lying to you, but they are also unlikely to point out that none of these things have to be the way they are. They can all be overcome when someone decides to act with intention.

Spend some time thinking about the things that haven’t happened with your team and ask yourself what action you intentionally took to make it better. If your answer to that question is nothing beyond just doing things the way we’ve always done them, you have your answer as to why it didn’t happen.

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