“Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about.”
Sheryl Sandberg

One is the loneliest number. Whether you run your promotional products business on your own, or you work as part of a remote team, it can be hard making work friends when you’re not in a traditional office. Establishing friendships at work is important for many reasons — and they’re not all social reasons. Work friends can help you stay connected to your company and the industry, they can help increase your overall happiness at work and they can help you boost your overall productivity.

The good news is that even if you work remotely part or all of the time, you can still make meaningful friendships with your colleagues. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight tips from writer Meena Thiruvengadam on how remote workers can build valuable friendships.

Set up a virtual coffee or lunch. This works when you want to get to know a colleague one-on-one or you want to get to know a whole group. On the call, talk about more than work, Thiruvengadam recommends. Some conversation-starters include favorite podcasts, books or movies.

Connect on social media. This tip works only if you’re connecting with peers, she says. Employees may not feel comfortable connecting with their boss on social media. Also, keep in mind that some people keep their networks on social platforms small or separate from their work life.

Be consistent. In real life or online, friendships don’t happen overnight. If that first virtual coffee goes well, consider planning another, Thiruvengadam says. If that goes well, consider making monthly coffee chats a regular calendar item. When you’re not on a video call, you can fill in the gaps by joining conversations in Slack, sharing emoji reactions and liking social posts.

Be human. You need to be yourself and be vulnerable sometimes if you want to build authentic friendships at work. This doesn’t mean you need to reveal deep secrets, but you should try to talk about things other than work.

Join or create a social Slack channel. If your company has employees working in various locations, a social channel could be a great central place for everyone to engage in fun ways. Don’t be afraid to start this kind of channel if one doesn’t already exist at your company.

Meet in person when possible. You may work remotely, but if you live in the same city as your co-workers, try to grab lunch or a coffee occasionally. If you are converging with your team for a trade show or other event, use the opportunity to meet for drinks or dinner.

Remember that not everyone wants to be friends. Even if you’d like to get to know your colleagues better, they may not be in the market for new friendships. Keep in mind they may have a full plate at work and at home, so don’t take it personally.

Work friendships are important — and not just for the extroverts or social butterflies. If you work remotely, try some of the tips above to begin to build some new work friendships.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Meena Thiruvengadam is a writer, media entrepreneur and founder of Travel with Meena, a travel site working to center the stories of travelers of color.