Today, I received a CD of images from another remote contractor, who included a blank compliments slip in the envelope, but nothing else. As someone who works remotely, I can’t believe people are still doing this stuff! Are you? If so, stop it!
Think about it: You have limited contact with the people you work with. That’s fine, but because you’re not hanging around the office with everyone else, people don’t get to see you in your “peripheral moments” — the times when you’re joking with someone else, making a cup of tea, or heading out to lunch. Although these moments probably aren’t central to the way we’re perceived by our colleagues, I think they really do help to build rapport.
But as a remote worker, your contact is limited, and probably contains a much larger proportion of direct communication, and much less “peripheral” stuff.
So what? So you need to see that each point of contact is an opportunity to build rapport. I promise: This is what makes the difference between remote workers who are fun to work with and really part of the team, and remote workers you’d happily never work with again.
If you’re in a salaried position, don’t leave rapport-building to the week before your performance review. And if you’re a freelancer, don’t think you’ll make up for it by sending a friendly card in the holiday season. You won’t: The damage will have been done by then.
If you’re sending a physical package to your colleague, include a personalized note. It doesn’t have to be a “War and Peace”-length letter — just a quick, friendly note saying, “Here’s the information you wanted. Speak soon,” is far, far better than a blank compliments slip (or nothing at all). If you’re sending an email, don’t rely on the subject line to say what you need to explain, or trot out the old “See attached” followed by your email signature. Take a moment to type a sentence or two — you have the entire keyboard at your disposal, after all.
Include something personal — to connect with your colleagues — in every communication, and your co-workers will be able to fill in some of the gaps that form when you’re not all working in the same office.
What techniques do you use to build rapport with the people you work with?