Building Relationships Virtually

Can we build trust and relationships virtually? People say it can’t be done at the same level as face to face relationships. After an entire year of working remotely due to COVID-19, I have built strong relationships with people I have yet to meet in person.

Think about all of the moments you have and use to build a relationship and get to know someone in the pre-COVID-19 world, the pictures in their office, what time they come and go, the car they drive, what’s in the car they drive, what train they take in, how they like their coffee, and what they eat for lunch. You learn about them in the moments that are shared in the break room, in the elevator, or standing at a shared printer.

We underestimate the amount of effort required for building relationships, which is why so many virtual relationships fail or feel dissatisfying.

Here are some tips to build strong relationships:

  • Make time to check in with virtual colleagues.

  • Really listen. Stop multi-tasking. If you’re checking-in on Slack or via email, stop and absorb the information your coworker is sending you. It’s not only your job to listen to them, but think about what this means personally to the other person.

  • When a person speaks, you can hear the other person’s personal values and strengths in what they are saying. Be sure to reflect back on what you heard so they know you were listening and you appreciate their point of view.

  • Book a time for a virtual coffee break. How could you replicate a shared drink at the bar at the end of the conference in the virtual world?

  • Share office celebrations with virtual team members. Make sure remote workers know about the birthdays you’re celebrating, the engagement, baby shower, promotion, new hire, or other events. Make the announcement personal and include a picture.

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