Our founding team came together because we’d all been burned by remote work before. Passive-aggressive emails from a boss. Resignations from low morale. An isolating role that led to burnout. The three of us agreed that remote work could be better.
As three students fresh out of UCLA, we looked to experts to teach us remote work best practices. We interviewed 100 remote managers before writing our first line of code for Kona. We’ve interviewed 600 managers to date, and we’re still talking to more leaders every day.
The biggest data point in our research came as a shocker. The vast majority of remote managers mentioned “relationship building” as their top struggle.
We had always seen relationship building as a nice-to-have. It’s office happy hours, Among Us games with coworkers, and GIFs on Slack. How could managers across every function and seniority agree that relationship building was their biggest problem? Why not mention burnout, miscommunication, or motivation?
Listening to our managers gave us the answer. Relationship building is a team-killing problem. The best managers knew that a team’s ability to build trust directly correlated with their success as a group.
Unfortunately, remote environments make relationships decay at a much faster rate than in-person offices. The reason so many teams want to return to a partially hybrid model isn’t productivity. They miss bonding with coworkers in the hallway and sharing ideas over lunch.
Work in a post-COVID19 world won’t be completely in-person. As a result, managers can’t rely on in-person interactions to sustain their team’s relationships and trust.
Remote team leaders have to build relationships while remote. That's what this guide is for.