Best ways to establish rapport and build professional relationships
Building and maintaining positive professional relationships at work can lead to increased productivity and a better organisational structure. Research shows that workplace friendships help to reduce feelings of loneliness and create a sense of belonging to the company, which can benefit both the individual and the business as a whole.
Working virtually can have an impact on workplace relationships, making it harder to reach out to colleagues you were once sat next to. This can make it more difficult to establish rapport and maintain positive professional relationships. Here we share some top tips on how to build relationships at work and best practices to ensure working from home doesn’t interfere with your relationship building.
When working from home, you can maintain positive relationships with colleagues by reminding them that you are there. An easy way to do this would be to share your schedule with the team so colleagues are aware of your working hours, know when you are occupied in meetings and when you will be available to jump on a call. You could also use messaging tools such as WhatsApp and Slack so that if a colleague is in need, they know that they can count on you to be on hand to help with a query. When people know that you are available, it is much more likely that they will reach out to you, allowing your team to work more collaboratively and support each other in day-to-day working life.
Create a sense of trust with your colleagues
Like in any relationship, trust is a key component when it comes to remote working, especially when establishing a collaborative virtual working environment. Normal working hours and productivity have been challenged now more than ever, and trusting your colleagues by giving them freedom and flexibility to get their tasks done in a timely manner, can not only help eliminate added work stresses and support increased productivity, but also strengthen relationships – every person has their own ways of working.
Boxed co-founder, Chieh Huang touches on how a lack of trust can often create the feeling of being micromanaged and details his own experience of how micromanaging his employees led to their creative ideas taking a backseat. This is just one of the reasons why it’s so important to have trustworthy and positive relationships with your colleagues – allowing creativity to flourish, especially when our working environment is less collaborative.
Chit-chat is such an important part of the office lifestyle and a great way to build relationships at work. It’s super important that we continue having informal conversations when working from home. Meetings with colleagues don’t always have to be formal, there is plenty of time for chit-chat before or at the end of a meeting and it’s always nice to follow up with colleagues, helping to build positive and permanent working relationships. Use visual cues to start a conversation, whether this be a poster in the back of a colleague’s video or even a book on a bookshelf – there is always a chance for a spontaneous catch-up!
Make the effort to understand how colleagues are feeling
When meeting virtually, we miss out on the opportunity to pick up on a person’s body language and stress signals. It has never been more important to check in with colleagues to make sure they are okay with their workload and don’t have concerns or issues outside of work that they may want to discuss. Staying in touch with your team can help boost morale, as well as ensure that no one feels as though they are alone during this time.
Research from Dr Aaron Balick, psychotherapist and director of Stillpoint Spaces, highlights how humans struggle to pick up on social cues when on a video call, as “we lose a good 90% of the cues that we usually use”. A lack of social cues can lead to misinterpretation and someone “might experience a criticism as much more critical than it was intended”. This is a prime example of how communication can affect relationships in a workplace setting; misinterpretation can affect a colleague’s confidence and self-esteem, and damage a relationship, particularly over an extended period of time.
Clear communication, both verbal and non-verbal, is key when building positive relationships. Try these best practices for non-verbal cues in your next video meeting.
Remote team-building activities
Taking part in low-pressure and fun team building activities is another way to help reduce stress, boost morale, and help build positive relationships with colleagues. Working from home can become a very lonely experience, and it is definitely not a one-size-fits-all solution. Virtual events can help to ease feelings of loneliness and isolation, which may come hand-in-hand when working away from the usual bustling office environment.
If you’re struggling to organise a remote session for yourselves, then why not check out our programme of virtual events, which are open to all and free to join. You and your colleagues can take a break from your desks and learn a new skill together in one of our webinars, improve your posture with virtual chair yoga, or virtually meet other work neighbours for a sing-along with the workplace choir.
By taking part in these additional activities outside of your typical working environment, it allows you to establish firm foundations with colleagues and extended members of the Wellington Place community. This in turn can strengthen a team’s bond – making them feel more cohesive and collaborative with each other – which is only going to benefit the business in a positive way. A happy workforce is a productive one!
Ultimately that’s the key reason why building and maintaining strong professional relationships is so important. Those who feel supported by colleagues and those who feel comfortable to collaborate are valuable assets to any business.
If you are interested in getting your team together for a socially distanced meeting or event, The Terrace can accommodate your team in a safe environment.