Let's talk about digital friendship between myth and reality.
It's easier said than done, isn't it? Digital friendship is the secret ingredient every productive remote team culture needs, but how does it work for real? How remote team members become and stay good digital friends?
It Takes Much More Than Sending A Happy Birthday Email
Just because you know a couple of things about your remote team members it's not enough to build sincere and long-lasting friendships in the digital world. You set someone's birthday reminder, and you feel good about it. In the best-case scenario, you will get a smiley in return.
Digital friendship as a part of the remote team culture has to be built brick by brick, one important step at the time. So, what are the right steps to take?
Five Minutes Right Before or After Your Remote Meetings Are Friendship Boosters
What are you doing while waiting for a remote meeting to begin? Checking your headphones. OK. Waiting for all remote team members to join a call. That's OK too. Do you have to be silent during those couple of minutes? Exchanging a few words it's not only a way to break the awkward silence, but also a friendly invitation. Hey, how are you doing? Does anyone have an interesting or funny story to share?
You should consider this one as well. What's happening after you finish your remote meeting? Isn't it heartbreaking to see your remote teammates saying bye and leaving in a hurry? Why don't you stay online only for a few extra minutes? It's better to end a remote meeting with a joke and smile than an unpleasant feeling that everybody just couldn't wait to get over it. Right?
A Virtual Tour of Your Home or Workplace Is As Good As It Gets
I remember when one of my remote colleagues used a web camera to show me his new state-of-the-art gaming chair. I returned a favor by adding my dog to our call. Isn't this something you would do with your friend from the "real" world?
Invite your colleagues to your home after work. Just because it's going to be a virtual tour, it doesn't mean that you won't make the tangible impact. It will only take a few minutes of your time to create a long-lasting bond with your digital friends. Even better, take a camera outside. What's stopping you from sharing a picture of a beautiful day or an interesting event in your neighborhood or city?
It's Gaming Time For You And Your Techno-Friends
Let's be realistic about this one because true friendship is all honesty. Not all of your remote team buddies are into the same games or gaming in general. However, there has to be some common ground your remote team culture can benefit from. You can't make all of your remote team members to enter the World of Warcraft. That's OK. So, don't push it.
On the other hand, don't take no for an answer when it comes to the movie or TV show recommendations. You don't have to like it, but there has to be something you can all discuss. Some global sporting or music events are simply impossible to ignore, aren't they? That's up to you and your remote team friends to find out first-hand.
Delete A Fine Line Between Private and Corporate Social Media
Are you following your remote company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram? Of course, you are. What's stopping you from doing the same with your remote digital friends? I dare to say that privacy concerns are the oxymoron of our digital age. I already wrote about the phenomenon called - digital credibility. Seriously, what do you have to hide? There shouldn't be any secrets among friends, even the digital ones.
I also remember when one of my former remote colleagues used to ignore my friendship request on social media. It wasn't a big deal and I didn't pay much attention to it. I also didn't take it personally. That's how I failed to notice that he also didn't update his LinkedIn status for as long as we worked together. He eventually left our remote team. Obviously, he didn't want to make any new digital friends in a remote company he didn't plan to put down roots. I'm not judging, but rather just sharing this real-life remote friendship experience.
Are You Ready Player One To Make New Digital Friends?
There's a beautiful quote from the Ready Player One movie:
People come to the OASIS for all the things they can do, but they stay because of all the things they can be.
Well, the same applies to digital friendship and remote team culture. Digital friendship should be the "oasis" of your remote team culture, period. So, invest a little bit of your "private" time and put some extra effort into building digital friendships because it will pay off for your overall remote team culture success big time.