If you’ve landed a work from home job, you probably already know the benefits of not having to go into an office every day. Extra flexibility, more time, and a custom environment are just a few of the many advantages that come to mind. Even though you’re not present in person, though, it’s important to still maintain strong social and professional connections both inside and outside of your organization.
By staying connected while working remote, you’ll find yourself happier and more engaged in your work and the work of your organization, improving your overall job satisfaction and wellbeing. Unsure where to start? Try these six tips for building and maintaining connections while working from home.
Explore your company’s internal portal
Your first step in staying connected should be to leverage what’s already at your disposal: your company’s resources. Most larger organizations have an internal portal for sharing success stories, socializing, or discussing ideas. For example, at Appen, we have Appen Connect – a portal where contractors all over the world can come together to interact in a shared setting.
Take advantage of your internal portal to share general knowledge and tips, and network with others in your organization. Be an active participant: Reach out to others in your same role to discuss best practices, and start conversations with possible mentors. You never know when you might create a new professional connection or make a new work friend.
Because you’re not in an office, it’s initially harder for others to tell when you’re available – for questions, projects, or discussion. When you start working from home, build a strong reputation right away that you’re available by being as responsive as possible. For example, when you receive an email, reply quickly (even if you don’t know the answer, let them know you’ll check into it). Answer any incoming phone calls if you’re free to take them. Of course, do all this within reason – no need to respond to emails well past work hours!
If you create a reputation for yourself as being responsive, the people you interact with both personally and professionally will know they can count on you and will be more likely to reach out to you in the future. This helps build trust, and makes it easier to interact positively with them going forward. Plus, they’ll know you’re a strong team player, a great professional skill to continue cultivating.
Socialize with other remote workers
We are social creatures, and working remotely doesn’t mean you need to stifle this part of yourself! Take time to socialize with other remote contractors at your company, even if you’re not in the same room as them. Here are some quick tips for building social professional relationships:
- Reach out to other remote contractors on your company’s internal portal (like Appen Connect). Start an ongoing connection by checking in on how their week is going and engaging in friendly chit-chat regularly. You’ll be surprised at how well-received a simple “how are you doing?” can be.
- Get to know everyone in your scope of work influence to ensure you’re expanding your network as much as possible.
- Find a work friend and use them as a connection to the rest of the organization. They can virtually introduce you to other remote workers and even help you get recognized by sharing your successes.
Not only will these ideas help toward satisfying your need for socializing and keep you more engaged throughout your day, they’ll also promote stronger connections with others in your company.
Build a local community
Even if you follow the previous advice, you may still crave meeting people in-person from time to time. That’s why building a strong local community is crucial to helping you feel connected in a remote job. A great first step is to develop connections with others near you who also work remotely. Here are a few tips for doing so:
- Join a local coworking space. These spaces are increasingly common across the globe, and feature several workers from different companies coming together in a shared space to work. This is a great option if you work remotely yet still crave an office setting.
- Attend local professional events. Try a simple internet search with your city’s name and professional events, and see what options come up. You may be surprised at how many networking and skill-sharing sessions are occurring around you each week. Use these sessions to learn new skills and meet new people.
- Connect with local professionals on LinkedIn who are ideally in a similar line of work, and suggest meeting up. You can share with them common experiences, re-energize your work with new ideas, and hopefully learn something new.
Take a break and go outside
If you’re new to remote work, or you haven’t had a chance to build your professional network yet, what’s the one thing you should make sure to do every day? Go outside. It sounds simple, but it can greatly improve your mood and re-energize your day. Walking around your city, interacting with others while you grab lunch, and getting away from your work environment for a period of time allows you to clear your head and feel better connected to the world around you. Social interactions, however brief, can go a long way in helping you feel engaged and alert.
If you find yourself so hyper-focused that you forget to leave your apartment during the work day, there’s an easy fix: schedule actual time on your calendar for an outside break, such as around lunchtime. By the time your lunch break is over, you’ll feel more refreshed and ready to get back to what you were working on.
Work for a company that fully supports working from home
While most large companies are increasingly embracing remote work, some are still ahead of the curve in this respect. Organizations that support remote workers — and better yet, consider remote work an integral part of their company and strategy — will likely have better tools and other resources to enhance your remote experience. What that could mean for you is a more engaging, connected work arrangement, and more accessibility to other remote individuals like yourself.
How can you find these places? Seek out organizations that highlight their flexible work environment as a major perk, and be sure to ask about flexible work arrangements when job seeking.
Interested in exploring flexible, work-from-home jobs? Appen is hiring!