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How I stay connected even when our team is physically apart.

A South African living and working in Ireland.

When I joined Here Near Next as an Account Manager in January 2023, I was over the moon to become part of this exciting creative start-up. But seeing that I would be taking in the role in a fully remote capacity, I wasn’t sure exactly how I would stay connected with my team and clients.

I was used to office chats and post-work socialisation, but now I was faced with a completely different situation. As the months passed, I found that although my working environment is now primarily a digital one, the way people connect to each other looks the same.

As I’m writing this, I’m looking out on winter-bare trees with rain clouds rolling over the hills just outside Dublin. I’m about to jump on a call with four of my colleagues, three of them in the sweltering Johannesburg heatwave, one trying to stay cool in Cape Town. Our surroundings could not be more different but we’re all working towards the same goal. It turns out that staying connected when your team is dotted across different continents, requires a little more effort. However, there are some fundamental things that bring creative minds together to deliver amazing results.

What is connection and why is it important? Connection is feeling safe. Feeling heard. Feeling valued. Connection is trust. Connection is everything when it comes to building long-term relationships. Without this bond to other human beings, it takes only a slight bump in the road or a mean curveball for projects to unravel and creativity to fly out the door. Connection is what holds it all together.

There are a few things the Here Near Next team does to stay connected to create magic for our clients:

Shared goals.

Despite different lifestyles and life circumstances, we all share some common goals. We want to deliver excellent work. We want to achieve balance between work and family life. We want to grow personally and professionally. This looks different for each of us, but we all share an understanding of what this means, and this enables us to support each other to achieve these goals.

Shared interests.

Interests outside of work are equally important and sharing ideas and stories creates the opportunity for the team to connect on another level. This could be sports, our children, art, travelling, humour, plants, pets… And laughing together goes a long way in strengthening bonds!

Taking care of each other.

The HNN team takes care of each other by making sure people are supported professionally to do their best work. But sometimes this also means reaching out and offering support on a personal level too.

Making the extra effort.

Staying connected as a fully remote teams means you often have to make a little extra effort. This could mean picking up the phone and making a call, checking in with text messages, turning your camera on for a face-to-face conversation, surprise birthday calls, etc.

Championing each other.

Connection within a team means allowing space to celebrate achievements but also to process and address disappointments and concerns. When people share goals as a team, and make an effort to look after each other, championing and supporting each other through the ups and downs comes naturally. I believe our clients trust us because we trust each other.

I’m sure I speak for the HNN team when I say I can put myself out there to do my best work because I know there’s a team behind me who supports me, and who are generous with their time, their knowledge, and words

Chantelle Turner
Chantelle Turner
Chantelle leads our client experience team from Dublin. With superpowers in creativity and organization, she keeps our clients and creatives happy. When not crafting budgets and timelines, she enjoys reading, writing, gardening, and addressing educational challenges.

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