Here is my trick to building cross team relationships in a remote workplace:
Be one minute early to every meeting
Always say goodbye and be the last one to leave the meeting
That’s it. That’s the trick. You’ll always be the first person at the meeting, and then you get to make small talk with whoever shows up before the rest of the people arrive (try to work in a real compliment1). It’s done wonders for me at keeping in touch with assorted people around the company.
It might sound hard to do, but this is one of those rare cases when a bit of software can actually improve a human interaction situation. Set up one of these apps that reads your calendar and auto joins you to your remote meetings one minute early. It’s not creepy, it’s amazing.
- Meeting Bar (mac only) - this one is my favorite, but you do need to keep your schedule accurate as it will auto join even if you’re not at the computer.
- Tandem (mac, windows, linux) - this is actually a video based collaboration tool, but it’s got a really nice auto joiner that confirms before it joins. It’s free for teams of less than 5 people, and works great even if you’re the only one on your “team”2
At the end of the meeting, hang out and say goodbye to people. Sometimes people will hang around and you can make more small talk. Doing these things will help add a lot of your humanity to the slack messages you’re going to be writing at some point in the future, and you’ll be more accurately perceived.
I wish I could say that I came up with this purposfully, but it happened because I kept being late for meetings and needed something to help me. A magical moment of serendipity in remote work life.