Points North

How to Bond with Your Team While Working Remote

on Jun 03, 2024 in Business

Remote work, work from home, virtual work, whatever you want to call it, it all means the same thing…you aren’t working in an office. According to USA Today, just over one-third of workers in the U.S. work remotely full-time. I joined this category in 2018, trading my water cooler talk for solo trips to the kitchen sink to refill my Yeti, and lunch breaks with my dog. I’ve worked on a variety of teams across various industries and time zones and one truth remains: a team who connects on a personal level works better on a professional level. 

Fostering Relationships from Miles Apart

So, how do you bond with team members when the roots of your relationship stem from a project management platform, Zoom calls, or a Teams chat? Even more so, how do you foster relationships when there are thousands of miles between you and your team? 

Listen. Truly Listen.

As everyone logs onto a call, there’s usually a small amount of off-topic chit-chat. What are people talking about? Their weekend plans? How their kid isn’t sleeping and they need some more caffeine? Did their favorite sports team get a big win last night? Take note of these things. These are the things that make your coworkers human and not just a skill set on the other side of a screen. There’s no easier way to connect by following up on a topic they’ve brought forward.


In the remote work scene, it’s common to only see your team members from the shoulders up. (But come on, I can’t be the only one who’s ever wondered how tall my peers are.) Beyond locking eyes with the person on the screen in front of you, is there anything interesting surrounding them? Do they have an amazing view out their window or interesting artwork hanging on the wall you can comment on? Is their pet lurking in the background? While not work-related, asking simple questions about the things you see can lead to conversations that help you learn a bit more about who they are and what makes them tick.

Encourage Group Activities

I’m not talking about virtual happy hours here. While there are miles between us, our CEO Jess invites our team to participate in an annual “Team Challenge”. Our team likes to flex our creative abilities in the kitchen, and Jess does a great job of selecting a unique ingredient and then setting a “sky’s the limit” approach to what we create. Each person submits a short synopsis and photos of their creation and it makes for easy conversations and bonding. Our initial team challenge was prompted with Old Bay Caramel, and this year’s was Rawnice’s All Natural Color Powders.

Creating Space for Candor

But this type of candor can be accomplished in other ways too. Try things like posting an open-ended question in a team platform or having people submit photos of something on their desk to a designated individual before a meeting. During the meeting, the coordinator can show the photos and have team members guess which peer submitted the picture.

Know Their Location.

And I mean that in the least creepy way possible. We’re not using Google Earth to peer into anyone’s windows here. But hear me out. This is helpful for a variety of reasons. By knowing the general region or city your coworkers live in, you can ask questions to learn more about where they’re from. This leads to sharing personal stories which can lead to finding common ground and passions and a more genuine connection.

Stay on Top of Current Events.

You can ask about current events that you see on the news or on social media happening in their area. On our team here at Points North, this got particularly interesting during the NFL playoffs. I’m from Missouri and will bleed red and gold until I die. I used to live a few miles from Arrowhead Stadium, and saying I’m a Chiefs fan is an understatement. During the 2024 playoffs, the Chiefs played the Baltimore Ravens, making whoever won the game the Superbowl qualifier. Needless to say, this led to some playful banter among team members.

Get on Their Schedule.

Between answering emails and submitting proposals, I bet everyone on your team is grabbing coffee or food at some point throughout the day. Don’t be afraid to send a 15-30 minute invite to catch up over some java or lunch, no project talk allowed.

Follow Them

Connect with your peers on digital platforms outside your entity’s digital realm. Add them on Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook, etc. While still associating with them through a screen, these channels provide a window into who they are and the interests they have when they’re not behind a desk.

Show Gratitude

It takes a few minutes to send an email thanking a coworker for a job well done or letting them know you appreciated their insight on a strategy. Simple gestures like this mean a lot because it shows you’re taking time out of your day to reach out and recognize the individual, something that’s much easier done when you’re passing in the hallway or sharing a cubicle with them. (Bonus points if you Venmo them a few dollars for a coffee or ice cream cone as a celebratory nod from afar.)

Cultivating a Personalized Approach

What about the team members you’ve been collaborating with for a while and easily consider friends? Try these tactics for a more personalized approach.

Send Snail Mail

You probably already have each other’s personal phone numbers at this point and know their birthday, so asking for their address doesn’t seem abnormal. But this analog form of communication is not one to be forgotten. Here are some ways to use it:


  • As mentioned above, know their birthday? Send them a card.
  • Know what they like? Make their day and support your local businesses by sending a care package or a quick pick-me-up. Over the years, I’ve sent teammates chocolate bars from a local chocolatier, received coffee beans from a coworker in NW Arkansas and discovered the only foot cream that has ever saved my heels (thank you Jess, and Mount Royal Soaps). While these are all small businesses, they have websites that have allowed my coworkers-turned- friends into repeat customers and allowed us to not only support each other’s communities, but feel like the world is a little smaller.

Get Together

You’re probably feeling pretty confident in your bond at this point. It doesn’t mean you have to spend the weekend crashing on their couch or in their guest room (but that’s cool too). Maybe you share a love of a specific shared artist, performer, bucket list item, etc. Book a trip, meet up, and hang out face to face. The time you spend together is only going to benefit your digital interactions.

In Conclusion

I’ll admit, when I started working remotely in 2018, I had some concerns that the “people-person” in me would suffer. But this could not be further from the truth. By integrating some of the tactics I’ve shared in this article, I’ve been able to connect with my virtual coworkers in various settings. This has led to fulfilling relationships on a personal and professional level.


Cover photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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