I’ve been working fully remotely for more than ten years now. The last eight as a software engineer at Buffer, a fully remote company since its inception in 2010.
From all these years, I’ve learned a lot: how to balance my work and my personal life, how to communicate better when I write, heck I’ve even learned how to use the right emoji at the right time; it’s more useful than you think if you’re on Slack each day. 😉
In all those years, I’ve also made many mistakes. Way more than I can count, but among those, one is very common among remote workers: reducing my personal relationships at work to almost zero.
When you start working remotely, you suddenly realize how much freedom you have and how little you need to talk about anything outside work with colleagues. You might have some meetings (calls in the remote jargon) here and there, and if you’re lucky, you start to develop some relationships, but you don’t have those moments when you can talk about anything simply because they don’t exist. Each call has a purpose; each interruption has a cost.
Also, if you live outside a big city, you won’t attend many events related to your work, which will decrease your chances of meeting new people in your industry even more.
Developing relationships in a fully remote company is hard; you’re isolated by design. In-person meetings can help a lot even if they don’t happen so often, but you can also visit some colleagues on your own. The real solution is really caring about others in your work environment, which will naturally nurture those relationships and pave the foundation for great relationships.
Some people find this aspect of remote work so hard that they avoid it altogether, and I get it. We’re social creatures; even the most heads-down hardcore programmer in any company needs some social interactions from time to time. We shouldn’t neglect this important aspect of our well-being and instead develop better relationships there.