The Importance of Work Friends on Remote Teams

As a distributed team that designs solutions for teams like ours, we at twine are constantly looking for ways to improve the remote work experience.

Our keyword has always been “connection.” Connection isn’t one simple thing that you can measure; it’s an evolving goal that encompasses different facets and layers of belonging.

One of these layers: individual friendships.

At a webinar I recently attended hosted by Welcome, the theme of workplace friendships was discussed not only as something positive for general employee wellbeing, but also as a source of productivity. There are actual business outcomes that arise from friendships.

The logic behind this is fairly simple: 

  1. Friendships make people excited about work;
  2. Friendships create loyalty;
  3. And in remote work environments, friendships make the company feel real. 

That last point is particularly relevant for distributed teams. Without that most basic layer of connection, logging onto a remote job can make employees feel like they are entering an alternate universe– one that’s totally disconnected from their real life. 

When a job doesn’t feel embedded in a person’s reality, it makes it that much easier for an employee to quit. 

I’ve worked for companies that did prioritize connection, and those that did not. The business outcomes were drastically different. 

When Covid first hit, I googled “remote job paid.” I ended up getting hired by a five-person startup as the company’s sole marketing employee. It was my first remote job, my first time working for a startup, and my first time leading an entire department. I was 21 years old, and I was terrified.

Aside from the CEO and CTO, the business functions of the company were run almost entirely by myself and two women my age: Cessie and Sara. 

We were on Zoom calls with each other every day. We bonded over our shared imposter syndrome and the work that we were drowning in. We talked about our relationships, our families, our feelings of loneliness in the pandemic. 

We complained to each other about work sometimes. But instead of collectively giving up on our work, our shared commitment to one another had us volunteering to do even more work if it meant helping each other out. We were loyal to one another, and as a result, loyal to our company even during the hardest times. 

We helped lead our tiny team to acquisition within a year. We were all sent to different departments after the acquisition, and our new department heads made no time for socialization or connection. I had no real relationship with anyone in my team, there was no company culture, and there was a distinct lack of motivation to contribute for the sake of teamwork.

Within a few months, Cessie, Sara, and I all left the company. That company continues to lose employees at a strikingly fast pace.

Companies that do not make space for connection pay the price. Teams that are intentional about workplace relationships, on the other hand, reap the benefits.

It is essential that remote work leaders view employee connection as a business function just as important as the rest. Unless your team wants to cycle through employees at a tremendous rate, it’s time to start connecting. 

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Our team makes time for connection by dedicating 5-10 minutes of every Zoom call for using twine, an app that connects us for small, themed Breakout discussions. It’s a lightweight addition to our culture that makes a huge difference (and it’s free for up to 5 people!). 

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Foster camaraderie & connection

Teams that use twine see higher engagement, increased productivity, and strengthened connections amongst employees.

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