Anthony Jordick from Cox Automotive shares his thoughts and expertise on forging meaningful connections while working remotely.
I started working at Cox Automotive in 2016, supporting Dealer.com in the Burlington, VT office. With its close proximity to Lake Champlain and a number of popular breweries, the vibrant and unique Burlington office was a strong draw for many recent college grads and people looking to get into the technology space.
I spent nearly four years working in-person alongside a group of talented, driven and entertaining team members. Together we celebrated career milestones, promotions, weddings and even the birth of children. But in March 2020, the bustling hive of the Burlington office was silent, everyone had packed up and started working from the safety of their homes. None of us had any idea how long this situation would last, or how we would adapt to being a remote employee for the first time.
At first the transition was difficult, but over time I found ways to stay connected with my teammates and friends. Here are some of my top tips to stay connected as a remote team member!
Anthony Jordick (Senior Competitive Intelligence Analyst at Cox Automotive)
Find teammates with similar interests
Like many other Americans, I suffer from a fantasy football addiction. Upon joining my current team, I learned of a hugely competitive, multi-department fantasy football league that I could not resist joining. From a live draft session, to weekly debriefs on impressive (or in my case, disastrous) performances, and playoff previews, the fantasy football league was a catalyst for meeting new people across the organization. Members of our league spanned all levels of our department and even included past team members that have gone on to other parts of the Cox business. For team members that have been mercifully spared from the fantasy sports bug, ask your team members if there are book clubs, volunteer opportunities or other hobby groups that to join. It’s a great way to continue exploring your own passions while getting to know the people you work with!
Join an employee resource group (ERG) or club
After joining my current team (shout out to the Research & Market Intelligence team!), I was exposed to several programs that empower employees to cultivate skills, network and even provide input to the business. Networking can be difficult, especially as a remote team member, but joining an Employee Resource Group (ERG) or club at work is a great way to sharpen professional skills and meet team members with similar aspirations.
Don't be afraid to call
Tools like Teams and Slack are great for quickly and easily engaging with team members, but like texting, can lack the emotion of a phone call or video chat. When I have a question that requires more than a one-sentence explanation, or necessitates a longer response, I try to use a phone or Teams call to meet with my team members and stakeholders. Having informal or unplanned calls (when appropriate) with your team members is a great way to stay connected and feel invested in each other’s work. You don’t always need to stay “camera ready,” as a simple phone call allows team members to better understand your question or request. So before you fire off four consecutive messages, ask your colleagues if they are available to jump on a quick call; they too may appreciate some human contact!
Prior to the pandemic, many of us had the pleasure of experiencing an in-person costume contest, gift exchange or holiday celebration. After transitioning to remote work, the idea of a virtual, celebratory gathering seemed difficult and inconvenient, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Sometimes all it takes is a little research and PowerPoint hacks to put together a fun and engaging event. This past winter, one of my teammates set up a gift exchange for all of the remote team members, where we joined a video call and “unwrapped” gifts by way of a cleverly built presentation deck, and afterwards sent our gifts to the recipients at the end of the event. Gift exchange aside, having the opportunity to meet with team members in a similar working situation is refreshing and helps forge bonds.
If you’re a remote team member, or even someone that works with remote team members, try some of these tips to stay connected. Cox has put in place the tools and resources to help foster a sense of community, but you have to take the first step! Submit that March Madness bracket, join an ERG, pick up the phone or join a holiday celebration and get to know your teammates. A little bit of effort goes a long way in appreciating who you work with!