Remote work offers numerous advantages for employees, such as increased flexibility and the elimination of commuting. Because of benefits like these, many people are opting to work remotely when given the choice to do so.
This trend is expected to continue in the future as more people recognize the benefits of working from home. However, there are also some major disadvantages associated with remote work. One of the most notable drawbacks is the negative impact that remote work can have on employee socialization and professional networking.
According to recent studies, when it comes to work-based relationships, employees who work from home full-time tend to have smaller professional networks and often report feeling disconnected. Networking is highly important for both personal and professional development; it allows employees to build confidence, learn from their peers, and discover new career advancement opportunities.
Trying to build and maintain a professional network can be more difficult when you’re working from home. Fortunately, thanks to the evolution of technology, there’s a wide range of new ways that can help you establish personal and professional connections with your peers while working remotely.
Finding New Ways to Connect
Interpersonal interactions are critical for professional networking. Through these interactions, you can develop key communication skills and build connections with others. Because you’re not physically present as a remote employee, you often have significantly fewer opportunities to interact face-to-face with your peers during a typical workday.
However, effective interpersonal communication is still very possible for remote employees in the digital age. New communication technology is making it easier than ever for team members to connect and share information from a distance. There are several notable types of digital communication tools you can use to interact with your peers and build professional relationships.
Slack and Microsoft Teams
Instant messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams have become popular communication methods for many organizations with remote and hybrid employees. These tools give remote employees the ability to interact with their coworkers and share important business information in real time.
Additionally, many modern instant messaging apps allow users to create new individual chat groups dedicated to specific subject areas, which can be personal or work-related. This may make it easier for remote employees to glean key professional insights and bond with their coworkers over shared interests in a comfortable setting.
Internet Message Boards
Regardless of your industry, your professional network should not just be limited to your immediate coworkers. Internet message boards are excellent tools for remote employees to network with people outside of their own company. Using message board sites like Reddit, you can join specialized discussion groups related to your interests and make connections with other professionals in your field.
By fostering these connections, internet message boards can help you identify potential career opportunities outside of your current workplace. You can discover information about trends in your industry, practice socializing with new people, and learn how to develop valuable skills from more experienced professionals, all while working from home.
LinkedIn, Facebook, and Other Social Media
Social media is another extremely valuable tool for networking. Sites like Twitter and Facebook can help you form personal and professional connections with people in your industry who share your interests. Other sites, like LinkedIn, are specifically designed for professional networking and can be directly used to showcase your skills and hunt for new job openings in your field.
Whether studying information technology or nursing, students in virtually any field can benefit from using social media to proactively build their networks before entering the workforce. Student clubs offer a variety of benefits for professional networking, such as the acquisition of new skills and the formation of lasting social connections. Social media sites allow students to easily identify and join student clubs or other organizations that most closely relate to their interests, which can help them build connections that will establish the foundation of their future professional networks.
Offer Help When You Can
Your reputation among coworkers can have a major impact on your ability to network. It’s often more difficult for remote employees to build a reputation because they typically have fewer opportunities to interact with coworkers. In these cases, it’s important to ensure that each interaction is as impactful as possible.
By regularly offering help to coworkers who need it, remote employees create more memorable interactions and establish a reputation for being thoughtful and hardworking. Building a strong reputation will allow you to gain favor among coworkers and attract positive attention from management, which can help you meet new people and open up new opportunities for career advancement.
Pursue Your Interests
Oftentimes, coworkers can form lasting professional relationships based on shared personal interests. Pursuing personal interests in the workplace, such as joining a company book club or fantasy sports league, can help remote employees form new connections by introducing them to coworkers who share the same interests.
Discussing these shared interests in a virtual group setting will allow you to bond with coworkers you wouldn’t normally see during a typical workday, such as employees from different departments. Fostering these personal connections can help you expand your professional network by establishing strong relationships with a wider variety of coworkers.
Keep in Touch With Former Coworkers and Classmates
In professional networking, it can be highly beneficial to maintain strong relationships with former coworkers, classmates, and teachers. These relationships can help you look for new job opportunities and learn about trends in your field, which can be especially useful in highly competitive career areas like healthcare and information technology. For example, if you worked in the healthcare industry previously, keeping in touch with former coworkers can make it easier to find a career in telehealth if you ever wish to return.
Working from home can make it more difficult to regularly network with coworkers, but it also offers numerous benefits for businesses and employees alike. Fortunately, many employees in the digital age no longer have to choose between professional networking and remote work. With the right approach and the help of technology, it is very possible to expand your professional network while enjoying the advantages of working from home.