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Virtual work with colleagues is hard. Remote relationships with clients are harder

https://www.fastcompany.com/90570211/virtual-work-with-colleagues-is-hard-remote-relationships-with-clients-are-harder

fastcompany.com

Virtual work with colleagues is hard. Remote relationships with clients are harder
Two software executives explain why it is harder to ‘read the room’ on teleconferencing platforms like Zoom.

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Moving from in-person to remote customers

Moving from in-person to remote customers

Travel restrictions and safety concerns irrevocably changed the ability for companies to bond with clients and customers. Many companies still are trying to figure out a good way to connect with clients over virtual platforms.

The lack of in-person interaction makes it much harder for seasoned salespeople and customer-relationship managers to "read the room." It results in missed opportunity and causes a loss in the ability to discover new and transformational ideas and products together.

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Key personality types in every business partnership

There are certain personality archetypes in every business partnership.

  • The decision-makers: In person, around a table, decision-makers are easy to identify. Virtually, it can be challenging to identify the decision-makers and to identify what they need to make those decisions.
  • The skeptics: Skeptics could be engaged with one on one, often after a meeting to ensure their concerns were heard. In the remote world, it's more challenging to identify and share ideas with them.
  • The trailblazers: Trailblazers often get what you're doing and may endorse a strategy and find a way to innovate and fund them. One could connect with trailblazers at coffee breaks or sidebar conversations. This has all but disappeared in the online world.

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Remote work: build trust and develop important relationships

Because remote work is likely to persist in some form, business leaders charged with nurturing customer relationships must find a new way to build and grow transformational partnerships.

  • Rediscover the art of business relationships: We need to make time to socialize. Starting a call 10 minutes early for anyone who wants to catch up can allow for the conversations that would typically happen at in-person gatherings.
  • Get creative: Because you're saving money by not entertaining, other creative ways can be found to impress your partners while still building your relationships, such as a virtual studio tour.
  • Demonstrate empathy: The world has also changed for the decision-makers, skeptics, and trailblazers. Ensure to find time to ask them about their internal relationships.

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Companies need some form of cohesion

Companies need some form of cohesion

During the pandemic and the switch to working from home, companies need ways to keep their teams focused and maintain a sense of togetherness.

But in most cases, virtual team building feels...

Effective team building

Effective team building contains two things:

  • A change of scenery, which makes the activity seem like a break from the normal day.
  • A demonstration that your employer really cares about your wellbeing.

Virtual team-building fails at both because it is nearly impossible to provide specialized attention on a group video call. And if you're attending a team-building video chat from your home office, it won't feel like a change of environment.

Physical experiences are more bonding

It's much harder to achieve the same level of bonding when you're not physically together.

Research shows that teams who experience mutual hardships strengthen connections, such as struggling through bad weather together.

Before remote rebooting your team

... consider:

  • More than 70% of leaders say their teams do not collaborate on their most important business problems, and 70% say their teams are conflict avoidant.
  • 2...

Strong virtual teams

  • Virtual and traditional teams can only succeed if all the members of the team feel like they can be candid.
  • Everyone on the team needs to be accountable, not only to results and to their superior, but to each other.
  • They proactively foster strong relationships (caring, trusting, supportive generous) among members.
  • Teams thrive when they have ambitious goals that have been collaboratively created and jointly owned.

Creating a new culture

Leaders and team members can make a virtue of this global situation and new world of work: you have an opportunity to introduce a totally new meeting culture, one that values candor and accountability.
It's not going to be easy, given the uncertainty we face. But now more than ever is important to work together.