There is that old-fashioned saying that warns us that we don’t know what we’ve got until it is gone, and though millions of us might have periodically complained about coworkers, we also miss them greatly during the current pandemic. As the coronavirus has spread and forced companies around the globe to send workers home and transition to the telecommuter model, a huge number have found it difficult to maintain the friendly relationships they once enjoyed at the office.
So, how do you connect with your coworkers as you work from home indefinitely? Experts from all industries have already dug deep into this issue and offer the following tips:
Virtual Coffee Breaks
If you have a smartphone, you can Facetime a work friend and enjoy your morning or afternoon coffee or tea break with one another. However, as CNBC reported, employees “at the education company General Assembly, which is headquartered in New York City and has campuses worldwide, are trying to take a positive approach to the situation and find ways to inject levity into the day,” and have a “video chatroom link set up for workers to join in the morning for watercooler chat over coffee.”
Just those few moments of chit chat and small talk can make all the difference in the world to people feeling fearful, isolated, or simply homesick for their office environment.
Virtual happy hours can work in the same way, as the team at GitLab has already discovered. They simply invite people to pour a glass of wine, make a mixed cocktail, or pop open a beer and join in on a company-wide chat session at a fixed hour (usually after hours). As one worker said, “Sometimes, it’s just a coworker and me catching up over a glass of wine at the end of the day. It’s something I’d typically do in my normal routine, and being able to mirror that and not feel so alone has been really meaningful.”
That same report noted that a lot of companies are gamifying communication and connection. For example, company-wide trivia games through resources like SLACK and TRELLO make it fun and easy for people to keep in touch, and in a fun and carefree way. The way these games work is very simple and begins with a single question posed to a group. The players then post their answers until someone gets it right. The individual overseeing the game does this for up to ten questions, and then a winner is determined.
Group yoga sessions or other exercise classes can also be done via video technologies or even through Instagram or Facebook live options. It is a good idea to find someone on a team or in the company that is certified in a fitness specialty, otherwise fine an external professional to run the session. Youtube is a great free option.
Uphold Team Rituals
Those with co-workers know that there are spoken and unspoken team rituals. It could be as simple as meeting over lunch every Wednesday to troubleshoot or discuss stuff that has slipped by in regular work routines, or it might be sharing articles and information. Whatever little rituals your team or your co-workers have enjoyed in the past, it is essential to keep them going after the transition to working from home.
Overcommunication is a Must
And lastly, one of the best ways to remain connected is to communicate, and then communicate more. As one article at Zenefits noted, “it’s important to over-communicate whenever possible. This can mean repeating your messages several times, or reposting content and announcements on several channels and platforms to make sure they reach everyone.”
Share more, and personalise with news of families, pets, weather, nice views while out in nature or gazing out a window…all of the human interest stuff will always matter, too!
It can be challenging to feel connected when we are collectively practising social distancing, but with the tips above, you can remain in close contact with your co-workers until you return to the office and enjoy in-person meetings again.