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Ties that Bind: How to build professional relationships when travel is restricted

Blog post   •   Oct 16, 2020 12:56 GMT

Photo: Tim Mossholder

Whether it’s for work, leisure, or both, traveling to new places and meeting with other people is essential for connection and motivation. It’s not surprising that after a year of restrictions and lockdowns, The Guardian reports that millions of Chinese people are traveling across the country in a spate of “revenge tourism.”

Just as things have started moving, some geographies - including a large swathe of Europe -  are facing another wave of temporary restrictions. It can be hard to stay upbeat while plans are put on hold again, however temporary. “Today marks 5 years since we’ve been in 2020,” reads a meme. Just as companies need collaboration more than ever, how do we nurture relationships remotely?

1. Keep it real

That viral TV interview in which a professor is interrupted by his two kids live on air has lost its shock factor at a time when the pandemic has put a kibosh on separating the personal from the professional. That’s not such a bad thing. Personal conversations are necessary for thinking outside of the - laptop-shaped – box.

“Authenticity leads to trust, and trust can grant major boons to your organization, “ writes the author of Charismatic Leadership, Kevin Murray, “you can innovate faster. And customers, suppliers, and partners will feel more comfortable working with you.”

Share your struggles, hopes, and stories with colleagues or go further and acknowledge the need for emotional connection in a company-wide charter, “The goal is simple,” says Catherine Maguire-Vielle, CWT’s Chief HR Officer, “to make sure we support each other and make life easier and more comfortable for everyone working from home."

2. Love thy tech

I find being on video disconcerting. It’s not because I’m wearing a grubby sweatshirt (I am) but because the sight of my own talking head distracts me from the topic at hand. Others love being on video, complete with comedy backgrounds that make them look like they’re on a tropical beach or outer space (coincidentally, both equally exotic at the moment).

Different tools suit different folks. If your team member insists that “everyone must be on video,” let them know that you prefer audio in certain instances or that you'll go on video for part of the call. You need to feel comfortable for the conversation to flow. 

3. Have more fun

According to consultancy McKinsey, 97% of employees believe that a lack of connection within a team impacts the outcome of a project. If we are not crossing paths in the office kitchen, it is time to consider strategies to bond virtually – such as a catch-up to discuss a book, virtual Friday drinks, or a WhatsApp thread earmarked for jokes and chit-chat. And where guidelines permit meeting up with colleagues, nothing beats doing so in-person through a platform like CWT M&E's easy meetings. 

Blog author: Emma Woodhouse, Global Corporate Communications Manager, CWT 

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