5 Tips to Create Authentic Work Relationships in a Virtual Office

Keep it real.

By Lauren McGoodwin

There’s way more to wellness than just eating clean, so we’re taking a holistic approach to restoring our spaces, minds, bodies, and hearts in small but powerful ways. Introducing The RE:SET Challenge—a 21-day plan to a healthier and happier you. Click here for the full list. Next up, how to build relationships at work.RE:SET Challenge blog banner

We all know that being “authentic” is a buzzy term for desired behavior, but what does it really mean when it comes to our workplace relationships?

As our community at large refocuses its lens on defining what is appropriate work behavior, political correctness and interpersonal best-practices, it can feel challenging to build close, meaningful and helpful relationships in the (virtual) office without direction or support.

And as our relationships with colleagues move to our screens and inboxes (at least for the time being), being intentional in the way we communicate becomes even more crucial.

To make sure your office (and remote) dynamics are rewarding and healthy, here are five tips to authentically build your credibility and work relationships.

how to stay focused at work

1. (Inter)Act with intention.

Whether you’re new on the team and looking to build rapport, or hoping to create a closer working dynamic with a department or office you don’t normally work with, it’s important to tap into the outcome you’d like to have and interact with intention. Consider what goals you are looking to reach, and apply the thoughtfulness and strategy you’d take with a project to a coworker.

Making the first move to learn something more about a coworker is a great way to create and strengthen bonds.

work from home setup

2. Actively listen.

Once you’ve earned the attention of your fellow employees, be sure that you actively listen to what they have to say. Many people don’t even realize that they are engaged in conversation, instead of listening, they’re actually nipping at the speaker’s heels to respond with something insightful or funny. Instead, be sure to focus, make eye contact, and pay close attention to what your coworker is trying to communicate to you. Respond with encouraging body language, clarification of details, and positive affirmation. Over time, practicing active listening will not just foster authentic relationships at work, but across your day.

computer, office, home, reading

3. Show vulnerability and self-awareness.

Another technique that builds camaraderie between people is showing vulnerability and self-awareness. In the old-school workplace, emoting and sharing feelings was often frowned upon and interpreted as a sign of weakness.

In today’s office space, responsible leadership understands that authentic and meaningful interactions are built on the foundation of shared trust.

Extend gracious behavior toward teammates you’re working on building relationships by sharing unique details about yourself or your team and be sure to show confidence in your mutually shared work.

phone, lunch, kitchen, raspberry yogurt

4. Be interested and open-minded.

An important extension of active listening is worth calling out on its own – be sure to remain open-minded and interested in your interactions with others, especially if you’re skeptical of the outcome. Being willing to show some patience and curiosity in conversations with colleagues is a critical way to express your interest, as well as show your appreciation of their value. Dig deep and ask questions to gain understanding and learn even more about your work buddy as a person, as well as a professional sidekick.

journal every day

5. Be honest and transparent with yourself and others.

The final tip to create authentic work relationships? Remember that above all else, staying honest and transparent is key to building safe, meaningful interactions with others. Without the safety net of trust in a workplace interaction, how can you confidently rely on your teammate to turn in shared deliverables on time, let alone keep up a friendly and workplace-appropriate rapport? In addition to keeping things above-board with others, remember to also be honest with yourself. Transparency check-ins on how you feel about some of your new work relationships are an important part of remaining authentic, as well.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on authenticity in the workplace! Do you have any tips for keeping it real between your coworkers, especially in this new virtual world?