• Jeff Doolittle

How to Build Connections in a Virtual Workplace

Working from home can make reading the room during a team meeting more difficult. And have you really had a meeting if no one said 'you're on mute?' Leadership is a relationship. Without human connection, leaders rely on positional power to influence others. Using power can appear to work, but it comes with harmful personal and business side effects. Genuine relationships are not easy to achieve online. Studies reveal that contextual clues and emotions are more difficult to discern online. Mastering the intangible art of building virtual connections is an essential skill for leading a hybrid workforce.

One of the five global leadership megatrends identified in the 2021 Global Leadership Forecast by DDI is that leaders crave more time to spend building connections with their teams each day. The hybrid workplace has increased feelings of isolation in the workplace. Leaders need real connections to influence and engage their teams. Also, they need real connections because limited in-person interaction negatively impacts mental health.

What is the meaning of building connections in a hybrid workplace?

Building connections is establishing meaningful, committed relationships between two or more people. A hybrid workplace is a flexible workplace model that supports distributed employees that work remotely and those that work in a shared office. A synonym for connection is relationship.

Virtual workforce challenges

Psychological distance and the use of technology present hidden threats for anyone trying to establish real virtual connections in the workplace.

Increased psychological distance decreases feelings of belonging that are fundamental to trust and communication. Being virtual increases the degree to which people feel removed from each other. Additionally, increased distance limits the ability to read the room and get a feeling for the atmosphere when building a connection.