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Culture & Employee Engagement

4 Tips for Building Strong Relationships in Hybrid Teams

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When you work in a hybrid environment, building relationships in the workplace can be tricky. Keeping up with team members split across home and office can make you feel out of the loop, which is why employers must have a strategy for building hybrid workplace relationships.

Building strong relationships at work can help your team trust each other and work together. When people know and understand one another, they collaborate more efficiently. According to data from Gallup, having a "best friend" at work can lead to higher job satisfaction and better performance, especially in hybrid and remote settings. The research shows that team members who had a best friend at work in 2022 were over twice as likely to be satisfied in the workplace and recommend their company as a great place to work.

In this resource guide, we've pulled together the top tips for how to build relationships at work, particularly for hybrid teams. Whether you're working from the office or at home, these tips will help you connect with your coworkers and work better as a team.

1. Make the Most of Your Time In-Office

Being in the office together is a great opportunity for building relationships at work. Planning team activities and meetings on in-office days can help colleagues connect, which is important for collaboration, productivity, and company culture.

According to Forbes, most remote and hybrid employers are more concerned about costs and profits than employee satisfaction. This disconnect especially impacts team members who work primarily remotely, as leaders may not have as much faith in their productivity. Therefore, in-office team bonding shouldn't just be about the team members — leaders need to get involved too.

A great way to get everyone on the same page is to plan team meetings on in-office days. Physically being in the same room for a meeting can restore a sense of unity and make everyone feel included. These group meetings can even be paired with other activities, such as lunches and games, to help your team bond and get to know each other better.

Alternatively, in-office days can be used for one-on-one meetings. Working together in-person can help coworkers communicate more efficiently and comprehensibly, which builds trust and understanding.

2. Encourage Virtual Watercooler Chat

Building relationships in the workplace is essential for fostering unity and trust among team members. One way to establish rapport is by engaging in casual conversations similar to those that occur around the office water cooler. Even in a hybrid work environment, these informal chats can still occur virtually to encourage team bonding.

Consider setting up online chat groups on platforms such as Slack, Discord, or Microsoft Teams. By creating dedicated channels for different topics, such as movies, books, or pets, you give team members the opportunity to share their interests and connect with colleagues with similar passions. As a manager, participating in these conversations demonstrates your support and helps maintain the flow of discussion.

Another approach to reinforcing work relationships in a hybrid environment is scheduling regular virtual meetings during work hours, such as coffee breaks and lunches. These video chat rooms allow team members to take a break from their tasks and engage in casual conversations with their coworkers, much like they would in a physical office setting. Organizing these virtual gatherings can help your team bond and feel more connected, even when working in different locations.

3. Make Virtual Meetups a Regular Habit

Finding ways to connect with your hybrid coworkers is crucial for engagement and company culture, even when you're not in the office together. Regular virtual meetups, from lunch breaks to online game nights, can help team members get to know each other better and build strong relationships at work.

To make virtual meetups successful, you should schedule them regularly around people's schedules. One strategy is setting up specific days or times each week to meet online. Maintaining a set schedule lets everyone know when to expect the meetup, making them more likely to participate.

Encourage team members to take turns hosting and choosing activities to keep things fresh and engaging. Virtual meetup activities can include:

  • Coffee breaks
  • Lunch breaks
  • Game nights
  • Movie/TV show nights
  • Book clubs
  • Holiday gatherings

4. Get Breakout Rooms in the Mix

Breakout rooms are a helpful feature found in most virtual meeting platforms that let you split your sessions into smaller groups. Breaking out into smaller teams can make it easier for people to communicate, work together, and build better rapport, even when they're not in the same place. In these smaller settings, people may be more likely to share ideas and hear one another's perspectives.

One of the best places to use breakout rooms is within larger meetings. Breakout rooms can be used for fun activities and games, such as those under tip 3. You can split your team into smaller groups to compete against one another in friendly competition, such as for virtual cards or chess tournaments. Whatever you use them for, breakout rooms are a simple yet effective way to help your team members connect and build trust in a hybrid environment.

Building Relationships in the Hybrid Workplace

Developing strong work relationships in hybrid teams might take more time and effort than traditional office settings, but it's essential nonetheless. Remember, building trust and fostering collaboration doesn't happen overnight. However, with patience, persistence, and the right strategies, you can create meaningful connections with your coworkers, even when working remotely.

As you navigate the hybrid work landscape, remember to prioritize both virtual and in-person interactions. By following the tips we've shared about how to build relationships at work, you can create more opportunities for connection, collaboration, and trust. As a result, your team will become more cohesive and better equipped to tackle challenges and achieve success together.

In conclusion, building relationships in the workplace is essential to creating a strong, resilient hybrid team. It may take time, but the effort you put into fostering these connections will pay off in the long-term, leading to happier and more engaged team members. Embrace the challenge and watch your team thrive in the ever-evolving world of hybrid work.

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