Practice #1: Touch base with one another.
Small talk is BIG talk!
You need to take the time to make it happen.
This is the first practice and it is my favorite. It's all about creating the habit of touching base with members of your team. When you are working remotely, chances to up with each other don't occur naturally. Without some small talk, we lose sight of each other's humanness. A smile and a sincere interest in the things that you are interested in can go a long ways toward feeling comfortable with other team members.
When working remotely, you have to create those opportunities. You can make it part of your routine to call your teammates once a week or even just once a month. The sole purpose of the call is just to chat about whatever is important in their life.
Another way to create an opportunity for small talk is to begin each meeting with a check-in. Each member can share what's new or exciting in their life, or what they are concerned about. The content of the check-in can be flexible, allowing each member to choose what they want to share. One member of my team is into cycling and it is a simple thing to ask about what rides she is planning for the weekend. Another member's daughter is getting married and it is an easy thing to ask how the wedding plans are going. These aren't overly personal questions but they show an interest without being prying.
Since we don't cross paths with others on our way to the copy machine or a meeting, we need to create opportunities for a brief chat. It's the little things that make a difference and knowing a little about our co-workers helps us to see them in a warmer, more trusting light. It goes both ways, showing some interest in others helps them feel more connected and, in return, knowing that others are interest in you feels pretty good. Small talk is BIG talk, so make sure to create some time to touch base with one another.
This practice and the other nine practices are described in more detail in, "The Ten Best Practices for Managing Remote Workers."
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