Office setting

Building healthy relationships at work can improve our mood, stress levels, productivity and overall well-being. However, forming meaningful relationships and working together in a hybrid office can be challenging. 

Here are some tips you can use to build meaningful team relationships whether you're in person or remote. 

All staff and faculty 

Practice patience. All relationships take time and consistency. While we may feel pressured or anxious to make connections quickly, this may actually hinder our ability to form meaningful relationships that go beyond the surface. If you’re having trouble forming relationships at work, remember that it’s okay to seek out groups or communities outside of the university. 

Be accountable. We’re never going to get along with everyone we meet or work with. However, it’s important to take responsibility for the attitude, openness and grace you offer both yourself and your colleagues. If you find yourself preoccupied by bothersome or biased feelings about a colleague, take ownership of your feelings. It’s also a good idea to determine if these feelings warrant action, like having an important, albeit potentially difficult, conversation with them. 

Recognize successes. Expressing appreciation, empathy and gratitude for our teammates can have a positive impact on how we collectively show up at work and how well we work together as a team. However, expressions of appreciation and recognition can also be some of the first things we forget about when we’re busy or stressed. Looking forward, try to make a habit of publicly and privately celebrating the successes and efforts of others.


Outline lines of communication. If your employees work in a hybrid or remote setting, it’s important to outline what types of communication channels your team will be utilizing for work-related tasks. For instance, you may rely on Teams, Outlook, calendar app or other channels. Standardizing what forms of communication you use can ensure that in-person and remote employees are included, aware and able to collaborate. It can also be beneficial to help employees access training or support for different platforms if they don’t feel confident in using them. 

Create an equal playing field. Office culture can be difficult to navigate, especially in hybrid or remote work environments. However, it’s important to ensure that all of your employees are on the same page and are treated equally. The perception of fairness is a crucial part of fostering a culture of trust, especially if you’re not always meeting in person. Here are some tactics you can use: 

  • Acknowledge that in-person and remote work is valid and productive. You may need to create measures for productivity if they do not already exist. 
  • Be specific and timely to acknowledge the growth and efforts demonstrated by all your employees. 
  • Be clear about expectations related to work schedules, workload and other factors across your team. 
  • Invite employees to have open and ongoing dialogue with you and their coworkers. 
  • Be wary of allowing rules to differ from employee to employee. For instance, you should ask yourself, “If I am flexible with this employee, can I be equally flexible with all my other employees?” If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to consult leadership, Human Resources and colleagues at your level before committing to a decision. 

Be mindful of university policies. Before you offer an employee flex time or alterations to their pre-arranged schedule, it’s important to speak to Human Resources for guidance. This will ensure that you can stay within university policies, avoid abrupt changes and prevent overpromising.  

Identify potential burnout. Burnout is a liability when it comes to developing healthy workplace dynamics. If you don’t have a system in place, identify and develop methods to help track the distribution of work among employees with similar functions. This can help you maintain a balanced workload for all employees. It’s also important to remember that total equality in workload may not be possible, but we can try to operate in a way that minimizes major differences. Two simple questions to ask your employees are: How will I know you’re feeling stressed? What do you need from me when you are feeling stressed? Let them know that you may not always be able to provide what they need, but it’s important to know how to better support them.

On-campus employees 

Be inclusive during meetings. If you’re part of a hybrid meeting, avoid having side conversations or speaking at the same time as another colleague. This can make it more difficult to hear what’s happening for others who are on the call. Additionally, it can be helpful to check in every so often with remote attendees to make sure they can hear the discussion. In-person attendees should be mindful about speaking up and speaking clearly over Teams or Zoom. If materials are only available in person, describe them or use built-in features to display what you are seeing. 

Include remote employees. Be forward about including remote employees in projects, dialogue and brainstorming sessions. If you’re getting together with other in-person colleagues, reach out to see if any of your remote coworkers would like to join and if so, figure out a creative solution to help them feel more included. 

Remote employees 

Communicate consistently. Working remotely means that you may miss out on in-office conversations. That’s why it’s important to stay in the loop and communicate consistently with your team through approved channels. Ensure your team knows when and how they can reach you by keeping your calendar and Teams status updated. 

Remember to socialize. Office dynamics often offer casual interactions through idle chat, group lunches or other opportunities to socialize. One of the risks of remote work is that interactions may become transactional, without the opportunity to bond the same way as in-person employees. If you’re working remotely, try to proactively seek out virtual meet-ups or walk-and-talk breaks with colleagues that are not solely about work. 

Seek out opportunities to collaborate. Working remotely can sometimes make us feel isolated from other members of our team, especially if we often work on projects alone. If this sounds like you, try to proactively seek out opportunities to collaborate with others across your unit or department. This may mean partnering up on projects or inviting others to help you during a brainstorming session. 


If you are struggling to form relationships or need help having important conversations with your employees or colleagues, there are resources on campus that can help. 

Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP)

FSAP provides a variety of free mental health services for CU Boulder staff and faculty, including workshops, support groups, same-day appointments, short-term counseling (including family and couples counseling) and more. Staff and faculty can take advantage of FSAP services without taking sick leave or paid time off. 


The Ombuds office can help staff and faculty identify options to resolve disputes, determine appropriate courses of action and aid in the informal resolution of workplace conflicts or other concerns. They also provide confidential consultation services. 


WorkWell helps oversee a variety of health and wellness programs that are aimed at supporting staff and faculty and fostering a sense of belonging on campus. You can get involved by attending classes, events and more. 

Learning and Development Workshops

Campus HR offers free workshops to support hybrid staff and faculty. Topics include hybrid team leadership, hybrid performance, critical conversations, inclusive meetings and more. 

Wellness Workshops

The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) provides free workshops to help staff and faculty find support and improve their wellness. Workshop topics include sleep, healthy eating, support groups, parenting, estate planning, homebuying, retirement planning and more. 

Mentorship programs

Did you know that staff and faculty members can work with a professional mentor on campus? Here are a few to check out: 

*Some programs may not be open to all employees.

Collegiate Recovery Community (CUCRC)

The CUCRC provides weekly support meetings, substance-free activities and other resources for those considering, pursuing or actively in recovery from drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, self-harm, other addictions and unwanted behaviors. 

Thriving Campus

If you are looking to connect with a local provider in your area, Thriving Campus can help you connect with a variety of providers based on specialization, needs and insurance. 


AcademicLiveCare provides access to free online counseling, psychiatry, nutrition and medical appointments. Students can access all services for free, regardless of their health insurance plan or coverage. 

*This program does not provide emergency or crisis services. 

Published: Feb. 22, 2024