Remote Workers June 8, 2020

How do you get to know co-workers when you're remote?

Matthew Hall @MatthewHall

Hey everyone!

I've worked remotely for my entire development career and have had varying degrees of success getting to know my co-workers. Some teams have been very tight knit and get along great, some haven't been great. The teams that were tight knit always were more productive and was just a better work experience for everyone.

The things that i've seen most effective in the past have been

  • Playing games with your co-workers (Video games, board games with Tabletop Simulator)
  • Doing Coffee Chats every week with a random co-worker
  • Things like Icebreakers
  • And the most important, having in person retreats together

While working on ChatFox we've been trying to automate some of these for Remote Teams to help them build stronger connections. Would love to hear what else has worked for you!

  1. 2

    To be honest, I'd simply use company time to talk with my co-workers.
    The same way you may have a chat face to face in the office before or after a meeting.

    Bonding with your peers is valuable to the organisation, so, really there isn't anything wrong in getting to know the people we work with and talking about non-work related topics.

    1. 1

      Oh agreed 100%! Setting at least 5 minutes at the start of every meeting for normal chit chat is super valuable.

  2. 1

    @MatthewHall have a "watercooler" channel for all the company, where people can talk about anything they want.

    Even better are "private" groups, similar to watercooler, but without management's ability to monitor.

  3. 1

    @MatthewHall Nice of you to bring this up! While working with many teammates I can think of a couple approaches

    • definitely 'social meeting' once per week. We have scheduled meetings for self-development and socializing games. Nice way to bring around good emotions and get to know each other
    • having culture of total transparency. That helps to say and to ask things upfront. Whatever it is we're discussing and solving things up getting to know each other. People often struggle with things not willing to mention that or worse, not being aware of that. Pointing that transparency is the key is very helpful.
    • asking asking asking. I've learned that no matter who you are and who is the person you're working with, questions are the key. They give clarity and make cooperation way easier.
    • thinking less about yourself, more about the others. I've been on this very often. While talking, planning, reviewing I'm trying to focus more on others than myself. I'll find time for myself in the silence and peace of being alone. In the conversation, there's time to help, engage, and feel the other person.

    "having in-person retreats together" - just came from sort of retreat with my business partner and best friend. Maaaan, that solved so many things and gave us huge clarity! Very very recommended. Especially if you control your ego and you're open for feedback and growth!

    1. 2

      "thinking less about yourself, more about the others. I've been on this very often. While talking, planning, reviewing I'm trying to focus more on others than myself. I'll find time for myself in the silence and peace of being alone. In the conversation, there's time to help, engage, and feel the other person."

      This is big for me. I've been in video meetings where people go silent and the conversation is driven by the same person(s) with the most to say. I make it a point to stop and ask for ideas to get as many people engaged as possible.

      1. 1

        @plai113 Nelson Mandela had a great honor to be the son of the tribe leader. Great wisdom and leadership came out of that. He learned one crucial thing - leaders are about to speak last! It might sound strange but the more you experience that, the more you see its value. Most importantly, people around you see it.

    2. 2

      Love it all! In person retreats is definitely the most important thing i've ever experienced in a remote team. It feels like summer camp to all get together!