It’s Hard To Build Strong Relationships When You Work From Home

Work from home all you like, but don’t be surprised when your requests for more resources and attention are ignored.

Whether you like it or not, you’re playing the relationship game.

Your success depends entirely on you being able to build powerful internal relationships.

It’s really hard to do that if you’re going to work from home while the rest of your colleagues are having lunch together.

Whose problems do you think engineering will fix first? What do you think marketing will devote more promotional resources to? What do you think management will pay more attention towards?

Yes, there should be independent criteria for all of the above. But I’ve yet to work with any organization where priorities weren’t heavily influenced by relationships.

And the more you work from home, the harder it is to build and maintain strong relationships. If you’re determined not to work in an office, then work on the road, meeting as many of your members as possible.

Comments

  1. Robert McIntosh says:

    I don’t disagree with the premise, but you might be addressing the issue for only one type of person here.

    Not all of us work from home by choice, and may not be in a position to be “on the road” instead. What if you have mobility issues, or childcare issues, or maybe offer services to a business with offices (and members) in another country or timezone?

    The larger point is that if you don’t, or can’t, work in the office, then you need to establish habits that build personal relationships with colleagues as well as community members as best you can.

    One option is to visit the office regularly (a schedule helps to avoid it being a surprise each time, even if it is infrequently), and build in time for personal as well as official business.

    Another is to have regular conversations with people that go beyond “meetings” and replace those “water cooler / smoking room / coffee machine” interactions. I’ve used regular skype chats (over a glass of wine) but you can also have back channel links to individuals through social media and networks such as slack that allow you to exchange personal information to build relationships that are not just ‘work’. You need to build presence and that often means finding areas of commonality and shared experience that do not relate to the working environment.

    The key to building these relationships is that if you are the remote worker, it is your responsibility to also build strong relationships that will help you and your community as best you can, but you can be creative as to how you achieve this.

  2. Rebecca Braglio says:

    I’ve experienced this first hand, but I think it was partly my own fault. I found myself less likely to reach out to others when I was working from home full time.

    For me, it’s just must easier and more effective to be in the office where I can grab someone to follow up or talk – especially when it comes to building relationships with other departments.

  3. Richard Millington says:

    Hi @thirstforwine - agree with everything you’ve said here.

    Part of the challenge of writing a blog most days is not being able to write for everyone. I wish I could do more. I should be doing more for those with accessibility challenges. Our content doesn’t cater to them well at all.

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