Fostering Virtual Connections

Fostering Virtual Connections

Rebecca Wolpinsky Rebecca Wolpinsky
3 minute read

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It’s the end of the year, and workplaces everywhere are planning get-togethers and celebrations. Headcounts are confirmed, leadership remarks are drafted, and entertainment is booked. It’s a time to reflect on achievements, energize the team for the upcoming year, and thank the staff, partners, and clients. Sometimes, these gatherings are a rare opportunity for colleagues to build personal relationships. But what about those of us who are fully or partially remote?

I advocate wholeheartedly for remote teams to gather and celebrate in the same way. Virtual work has many advantages—flexibility, lack of commute, a broad job market—but personal connections are tough. We jump on and off meetings without the advantage of passing each other at the coffee station on the way in. We fail to notice a colleague’s funny calendar or sports memorabilia because they are out of camera view. We miss the chance to eat lemons from a team member’s abundant tree. 

Some may argue that these casual interactions negatively affect productivity. I disagree. Colleagues who identify as a community work together more effectively—and enjoy their time. It’s much easier to brainstorm solutions, challenge assumptions, and parse the workload when we understand what motivates one another. At Aptly, we intentionally nurture relationships among our mostly remote team through both formal and informal activities. 

colleagues in virtual conversation

For example, just last week, we hosted a virtual escape room, and team members worked in groups to decode clues and solve a puzzle. We’ve previously hosted murder mystery parties and origami lessons—each gives the opportunity for team members to laugh and make personal connections. Another recent team meeting evolved into a conversation about holiday cookies—and I’m stocking my pantry to try some of the delicious recipes my colleagues have shared on our Slack channel. 

Informally, I try to start video calls with a quick check-in: “How was your weekend?” “Did you decide to register for the 5k you mentioned?” “Can I show you the crazy looks my dogs are giving me right now?” Each of these is an authentic and sincere inquiry. I want to know how my team members are doing and what makes them tick. They commit a large portion of their day to making Aptly successful, and it’s important to me that they feel heard, connected, and supported at every level.

For leaders of fully remote teams, or hybrid teams with a few remote employees—don’t miss the opportunity to engage everyone at a personal level. A workplace that is genuine and encourages employees to share their true selves—even virtually—is a successful one. 

As we close out the year, I also want to thank my team, partners, and all of you reading this article for the impact you’ve had on my year. 

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