London, UK,

Tips for building strong long-distance business relationships

Sunny Goklani, Civil Engineer

In an organisation with more people than the country of Monaco and projects spread across all continents, chances are that not everyone in your team sits in the same office. Long-term relationships, including virtual ones, need effort to make them work. Let me pitch in with some tips.

  1. Get to know each other: You’re not a bot, nor are your colleagues. Don’t be two thumbnails exchanging HTTP enabled text.
  2. Set your expectations: No, you guys aren’t exclusive. They might have other projects to work on, and events to go to. Know their level of commitment and share yours.
  3. Communicate effectively: More is not always better. Be clear and succinct and include them in relevant email chains. Make them feel a part of what’s important. Make them feel important. They’re banking on you, from so far away.
  4. Be creative: Email is not the only medium invented. Sometimes, words just don’t say enough. If they’re in the office and you’re in the field, how about video-calling them when the coolest crane arrives on site? Or sending them a photo of how the truss resembles rays of the sun when it sets?
  5. Fill in for each other: If they’re off on holiday, fill their shoes as reasonable. Coordinate work over time zones and don’t bug them during their sleep. Appreciate the differences.
  6. Stay positive: Difficult times shall come and pass. No blaming. No shaming. No CAPS. No nit picking. And sarcasm? A big no. When you’re so far away, your words are your personality. Be calm, polite and understanding. Have you ever given them a compliment and copied their manager on it? Think about it.
  7. Celebrate success: You can’t talk it over a coffee when things get hard. Nor can you go partying when you win a project that you were working on forever. So celebrate in other ways. If you’re the manager, maybe recommend a pay rise. If they’re always in the office, call them out for a field visit someday.

Have I missed any tips for building strong and successful virtual business relationships? Get in touch to tell us how you connect with your long-distance colleagues.



Meet the blogger

Sunny GoklaniSunny is a civil engineer with focus on construction management and astute understanding of business strategy. He holds a business management certificate.

From being involved in construction of the world’s third-largest steel forging facility in Hazira, to luxury homes in Austin, his experience involves planning, controls and analyses on unique projects from both hemispheres. He currently serves as project controls analyst for projects across the Americas and Middle East.