Human Connection in the Virtual Realm: Building Strong Remote Teams

You've spent years perfecting your craft and honing your skills to build an impressive career, but lately something has been missing. Maybe you've been working remotely more often or your team has gone fully distributed. 

While the flexibility is great, you're craving more meaningful connections with your coworkers. Don't worry, you're not alone. Many professionals today struggle to build strong relationships with remote colleagues. But it is possible to foster human connection, even from a distance.The key is making relationship-building a priority and being intentional in your interactions. 

With the right mindset and strategies, you can create a tight-knit team that transcends physical location. Read on to learn how to strengthen bonds, boost trust, and cultivate a spirit of collaboration across the miles. Togetherness is within your reach, no matter where you and your colleagues call home.

The Challenges of Remote Work

Working remotely certainly has its perks, like avoiding traffic and staying in your PJs. But it also brings challenges, especially when it comes to building connections with your team.

Communication barriers

When you can’t see your colleagues face to face, it’s easy for messages to get lost in translation. Body language and tone don’t come through via email or chat. Take extra care to be clear in your communication. Ask follow up questions and reiterate important points to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Loneliness and isolation

Humans are social creatures, so spending long hours alone can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation or even depression. Make an effort to regularly chat with your co-workers about life as well as work. Set up virtual coffee meetups or after-hours video calls. Having that social interaction and camaraderie will make the remote experience much more fulfilling.

Lack of work-life balance

Without a physical separation between work and home, the lines can start to blur. It’s easy to end up working longer hours when your office is just a few steps away. 

Make sure to set clear boundaries for yourself like designating a workspace, logging off at the end of the day, and avoiding checking email once you’re off work. Take real breaks to rest your mind and avoid burnout.

While remote work does bring difficulties, focusing on open communication, social connections and a healthy work-life balance can help ensure you and your team feel engaged, motivated and happy in a virtual work environment. With the right strategies and mindset in place, you absolutely can build strong remote teams.

Fostering Trust in a Virtual Setting

When your team is distributed across locations, building trust is essential. How do you foster strong connections when you can’t meet in person?

Make time for regular video calls. See each other face to face, even if just on screen. Schedule weekly or biweekly video meetings to catch up, collaborate and simply connect. Non-task focused conversations are just as important as project discussions. Ask open-ended questions and listen to build understanding.

Share personal updates too. Send quick messages updating your team on life events, hobbies, pets, kids, travels, etc. While work-related communication is key, personal connections strengthen bonds. Keep things light and casual.

Be transparent in communication. Explain your thinking and decision making process. This helps build confidence in your leadership and direction. Ask for input and be open to feedback. Address any concerns promptly and professionally. Honest, ongoing conversations foster a sense of shared purpose.

Recognize your colleagues' work and value. Send a quick message of thanks or share a win with the wider team. For bigger milestones, consider a small gift card or treat. Knowing you notice their dedication and hard work motivates and inspires your team, even from afar.

Make an effort to be inclusive. In meetings, encourage everyone to participate by asking more reserved members for input. Follow up with them separately if needed. 

Privately message new or shy team members to make personal connections. Your effort to engage the whole team helps create a welcoming atmosphere where all voices are heard and respected.

With the right focus and commitment, you can build trust and strong relationships with your remote colleagues. Keep communication open, share updates, recognize achievements, ask questions and truly listen. Your team's success depends on the human connections you forge.

Encouraging Team Collaboration Remotely

Working remotely can make team collaboration challenging, but with the right strategies, you can build a cohesive team environment even from a distance.

Schedule Regular Meetings

Make time for both formal and informal virtual meetings. Host weekly or biweekly calls to provide updates, give kudos, address any issues, and allow for open discussion. You might also organize optional “water cooler” chats for people to connect casually. These consistent interactions will help combat feelings of isolation and strengthen interpersonal relationships.

Promote Transparency and Shared Values

Share not just work updates but also information about team goals, priorities, and values. Explain the reasoning behind key decisions and strategies so everyone understands how they fit into the bigger picture. This transparency builds trust and helps align the team around a common purpose. Discuss your team’s core principles and values openly and often.

Use Collaboration Tools

Take advantage of tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, Trello, and Slack to facilitate cooperation across distances. These platforms make it easy to communicate, share files, track projects, and work together in real time. 

They break down barriers between offices and time zones, enabling constant connectivity. Familiarize your team with the available apps and explain how each can benefit their workflow or collaboration with colleagues.

Recognize and Value All Contributions

Express gratitude and appreciation for your team members’ efforts and input. Send a quick message of thanks when someone goes above and beyond or acknowledge their contributions during meetings. 

Little gestures like these mean a lot in fostering morale and motivation from a distance. Make a point of recognizing both major accomplishments as well as small wins. Your team will feel more engaged knowing their work is valued.

With the technology and techniques now available, creating close-knit remote teams is absolutely possible. The keys are open communication, shared purpose, meaningful connections, and showing appreciation for the people and work that make the team successful. By putting in the effort to build a supportive virtual environment, you’ll have a collaborative team in no time.

Promoting Work-Life Balance for Remote Employees

Promoting a healthy work-life balance is key to keeping your remote team motivated and productive. As a manager of a remote team, it’s important to set clear expectations about availability and responsiveness to avoid burnout.

Set Core Hours

Establish standard working hours for your team and stick to them. Having core hours when all team members are available online helps ensure key meetings and work can get done efficiently. Make it clear that communication outside of core hours is not expected or required. This allows your team to “sign off” at the end of the day and avoid feeling like they need to be constantly connected.

Encourage Disconnecting

Remind your team to step away from their workstations and unplug. Taking regular breaks improves focus and recharges the mind. Suggest your team goes for a walk, spends time with family, exercises, or pursues hobbies and personal interests outside of work hours. Leading by example and openly talking about your own downtime activities can help set the right mindset.

Monitor Workloads

Keep a close eye on the workloads and schedules of your remote team. Look for any signs of burnout like decreased productivity, lack of focus, irritability, or health issues. Make adjustments as needed to ensure workloads stay at a manageable level. It may help to suggest establishing digital boundaries, taking regular vacations, and using all paid time off.

Promoting work-life balance and self-care for your remote team leads to higher job satisfaction, better mental wellbeing, and a more sustainable work pace. Empowering your team with flexibility and control over their schedules fosters trust and loyalty. 

Keep an open dialog and check in regularly to make sure the needs of both the business and your employees are being met. A happy, healthy team will be more creative, collaborative, and committed to achieving team and company goals.

Tools and Strategies for Building Connection on Remote Teams

Building connection and fostering relationships on remote teams requires intention and the right tools. Here are some strategies and technologies to help strengthen bonds between distributed colleagues:

Make Time for Personal Connections

Schedule time for casual conversation and bonding. Things like:

  • Virtual coffee or lunch meetings

  • Weekly calls to catch up on life outside of work

  • Sharing photos, experiences, or updates on team channels

Making space for personal relationships and small talk, even virtually, goes a long way.

Leverage Video Conferencing

Video calls, like Google Meet or Zoom, allow colleagues to connect face-to-face, read facial expressions and body language, and feel more engaged. Require video for meetings whenever possible. Seeing someone on the other end of the line helps build empathy and understanding.

Encourage Informal Communication

Provide channels for unstructured dialog and water cooler-type conversations. Things like:

  • Slack channels or chat groups for hobbies, interests or socializing

  • An “open mic” call for sharing updates, telling stories or just chatting

  • Photo sharing so colleagues can see each others’ home offices, pets or latest adventures

Informal communication and unstructured social interaction are key to feeling connected, even when working remotely.

Share Work and Life Updates

Require team members to provide regular updates on what they’re working on, priorities, challenges, and wins. Also encourage sharing personal updates, milestones or events. When done consistently, these updates help colleagues stay in tune with each other's professional and personal lives from afar.

Connection and cohesion on distributed teams take conscious effort. But with the right tools and strategies to facilitate relationship building and open communication, remote colleagues can forge meaningful bonds, even across the miles. Strong, interpersonal relationships are key to high-performing, collaborative teams, whether co-located or virtual.


You’ve seen how building a strong remote team requires intentional effort around human connection. Even though you aren’t sharing a physical workspace, you can foster meaningful relationships with your coworkers through open communication, virtual social interaction, and empathy. 

Make space for casual chat, share details about your life outside of work, and be fully present on video calls. Though it may feel awkward at first, these types of genuine interactions are key.

While collaboration tools and efficient processes are important, never forget that there are real people behind those Slack messages and email threads. People who have good days and bad days, personal struggles and wins, hobbies and interests outside the scope of work. 

Get to know your teammates as fellow humans, and you’ll build a foundation of trust and support that leads to a highly productive, tight-knit team, no matter the distance between you. Focus on the human moments, have compassion for yourself and others, and you’ll find connection and meaning, even in a virtual realm.


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