In the past few weeks, millions of people around the world have adjusted to a “new normal” of working from home. Teams and companies have been strengthened by a resolve to dig in and make things happen, and inside jokes are popping up in Slack channels – thanks to the interruption of kids and pets on conference calls.
And, while companies and individuals have been getting individual systems together, something many haven’t figured out (or, even realize they need to figure out) is how to stay connected to team members and clients virtually.
How Can We Help? - Knack Series on Remote Work
The Knack Team has been publishing resources on remote work for the last couple of weeks, focusing our energy on creating actionable resources for Knackpackers. Today, we’ve shared strategies on how to build interpersonal relationships – when you can’t schedule a team activity or travel to meet clients.
We’ve organized this post by “internal” and “external” tips, as the way you foster community within your internal team is going to be different from external efforts!
Internal Team Building Strategies
It’s easy to fall into the not-so-helpful habit of being transaction-focused when working from home. That is to say, it’s easy to only reach out to people when you need something from them.
Here are a few ways to develop lasting relationships in a virtual environment:
Humor-Focused Slack Channel
One of the top tools for any workforce, Slack is an excellent place to facilitate authentic connections amongst a team. Create a humor or news channel, where team members can drop pictures or links through the day.
- Work from Home Pet Channel: Create a channel for team members to share videos or photos of their pet antics.
- Parenting Fails: Create a channel where parents can share what their kids are up to, as well as support one another.
- Meme Drop: There are a lot of great memes about your industry, and team members can share them in a channel like this.
If your company culture hasn’t included humorous Slack channels, it’s probably a good idea to ask your team members if they’d like a channel – and let them pick the topic. That way, everyone is invested in sharing!
(Note: It’s important to make sure your new channel is not abused, meaning typically only 1-2 posts per week.)
Get on The Phone
“If I can't meet face-to-face, the next best option for me to feel connected is a quick phone call (or a video call) about both Knack and non-Knack issues,” shares Knack founder, Chad Mellen.
Not all emails need to be meetings, but many emails could’ve been more effectively handled with a 5 minute phone call! We recommend that each of your team members have an hour marked on their calendar for “Quick Chats,” where people can ring them without setting up an appointment.
“Go ‘old school’ and call someone on the phone to discuss a topic, especially if you think it would be faster than setting up a meeting or Slacking back and forth. Hearing a voice keeps you connected,” says Knack CDO, Keith Bristol.
Talking on the phone often prevents misunderstandings that can happen through email or Slack.
Share Compliments in Google Docs
At Knack, we’re 100% in The Cloud, which means a LOT of commenting on Google docs. A great way to build rapport is by sharing authentic compliments or kudos in docs you’re reviewing. “If I’m reviewing a document,” shares Knack team member, Brianne, “I make sure to include a kudos every page, ish. That way, the person reviewing my comments knows they’re doing a good job – I don’t want people to only read critique in the comments!”
You can take this one step further with other communication. Shares Chad, “I intersperse my Slacks, Google doc comments, texts and emails with personal questions and observations so my written communications are not all business.”
External Rapport Building Strategies
Many Knack customers work in a B2B environment, and staying connected with clients is a primary concern. Normally, we’d be able to go to lunch or travel to meet them. That’s not always possible, so here are a few strategies for maintaining those relationships without face-to-face interactions.
Send a Physical Card
A check-in email may go unnoticed, especially during busier seasons. For this reason, we recommend standing out from the crowd and sending a quick note via mail. You don’t need to write a treatise, a few short sentences will do just fine! It could be a thank you note, a “checking in” note, etc.
At Knack, we like to use 3x4 cards on a higher end paper. Jot a note, and send it off! You can print off postage, and stick it in your mailbox for pickup!
Email Helpful Resources
You don’t want all of your emails to be about your business or products, as they’ll likely be deleted. Instead, take a service-focused approach, and send helpful articles on business trends, strategies, etc. This post could be a great resource to send! ;)
Saw this post on (topic), and I thought it would be useful for (issue you’re having/company goals). Have a great (day of the week).
Engage on LinkedIn
While you’re (probably) not Facebook friends with your clients, you are connected on LinkedIn! Spend ~15 minutes a day going through and engaging with your customers and clients on LinkedIn. You can also go the extra mile and share their statuses, or a congratulatory status tagging them on a recent successful initiative.
Keep it Authentic
Above all, these interactions should be authentic, and come from a place of providing value or service. Don’t slip in mentions of your products or try to upsell –keep the focus on your client and their goals.
How Are You Staying Connected?
How are you staying connected with your clients and team members? Share your helpful tips in the comments below!
What to Read Next - Remote Work Series
Here's a list of the other posts in this series:
- Pace Yourself: How to Avoid Burnout When Working from Home
- Honest Tips for Parents Working from Home
- No Home Office? Here’s How to Create a Workspace at Home
- From the Founder: How Leaders Can Ensure Results for a Newly Remote Company
- How to Manage Operations & Customer Service as a Newly Remote Company