Early impressions are crucial in any relationship, and work is no different. For better or worse, staff’s first impression of a team member, subordinate, or supervisor can have a significant and lasting consequence.
Unfortunately, for many who are new to the workforce since March 2020, some office interactions may have only occurred during the remote work arrangement companies adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For others, most of their interactions may fall into that category.
These employees shouldn’t wait until a return to the office to start building relationships and cultivating favorable opinions. Out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind.
“Bonding with colleagues in the real world is easy,” writes Zaria Gorvett in an article for BBC. “It’s about group sessions cooing at internet cats, collective eye-rolls at breaking political developments and endless rounds of coffee. But life is no longer so simple. Now that everyone is working from home, the only tools at our disposal are video conferences, group messages and email—arguably the coldest forms of communication invented.”
Gorvett suggests using the following strategies to make a positive impression in a virtual world.
Smile—Just because you aren’t literally face-to-face doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still smile and try to look friendly. Even when videoconferencing isn’t involved, people can often tell when someone is smiling just by the sound of his or her voice.
Find common ground—Shared experiences, interests, and observations help people relate to one another and, therefore, make them appear more likeable.
Be ready—Don’t treat virtual meetings less seriously than in-person meetings. You owe it to your coworkers to show up prepared to contribute and act professionally.
Give people credit for their achievements—Simply acknowledging a coworker’s job well done with even a few words can make a big difference in the person’s attitude toward you.
Tell stories—Storytelling captures people’s attention and helps them get to know you better and more easily understand you through context.
Entering the workforce for the first time or starting a new job can be a daunting experience, particularly getting to know the rest of the team. That situation is obviously compounded when all interactions are virtual.
New staff can help improve their interoffice relationships by using these simple tips, which are sure to be increasingly relevant to all employees as the use of telework continues to grow even beyond the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.