Is social distancing making you feel disconnected?
Don’t get caught up in trying to be productive and disconnect yourself from everything else around you.
These are especially trying times. Our current situation is a whole new ballgame with entire workforce going remote overnight. There are so many benefits to this new way of working but since we’re still adapting to it and partly because of the nature of remote itself, the lack of direct interactions can make you feel alone and left out.
We humans are naturally social. Workplace is the same. Social interactions in the workplace ensure everyone in the group is on the same page. They play a vital role for everyone in the organisation to feel connected.
Coworkers not only possess work related knowledge and expertise, they are also in a similar boat as far as the work environment is concerned. Seeing how we were spending more hours in office than everywhere else combined, it may come as no surprise that they can be incredibly helpful and supportive. It could be help, guidance, advice or feedback on various work or non-work related matters.
Organisations benefit from good social interactions and workplace relations too, not just in setting a positive environment, but they’ve proved to reflect tangible performance-related outcomes as well.
- A study on peer effects in the workplace, found that productivity improved when employees were assigned to work alongside faster, more knowledgeable coworkers.
- Higher levels of employee engagement indicated lower business costs, improved performance outcomes, lower staff turnover and absenteeism.
- Strong ‘within-group’ ties with coworkers provide opportunities to facilitate innovative thinking too.
- Employees who are satisfied with the overall quality of their workplace relationships are likely to be more attached to the organisation.
Non-task interactions are necessary. They give an opportunity for peer relationships to exist between coworkers with no formal authority over one another or structure and act as an important source of informational and emotional support for employees. This becomes a strong pillar for your workplace culture too.
However, when you’re working remotely, it is a challenge to be in a loop with your coworkers not just in work but in sharing the office buzz too, if such a thing exists at the moment.
How about we encourage ourselves to take time and bond with our coworkers? You’ve been spending over 10 hours a day with these people 5 days a week. Remote work need not turn them into strangers.
We’ve compiled a list of creative and fun ways you can stay connected with them.
Make video mandatory
Get over the awkwardness of the video calls and have them often. We probably look equally messy. But video adds a human touch to a digital meeting that is otherwise missing.
Schedule frequent catch-up sessions over video calls even if they’re for a short period of time. Block some time in your calendar and send a reminder to all. Even if it is not an office related call, make yourself decently presentable.
Talk about what you did last weekend, take suggestions if your coworkers are reading any good books. Seeing your team on the other end of the screen assures you that they’re relatable humans and not just distant coworkers.
Schedule virtual coffee sessions
Have a cup of coffee with your team during breaks. You’re anyway going to caffeinate yourself, why not use that time to bond as well.
Make time in your calendar for having coffee over video calls with your office friends. Discuss the news, some fun facts, or good old gossip too over these virtual coffee sessions to stay connected with your teammates. Few little breaks can turn into happy hours. You could use the time to discuss all about the TV series and movies you’re watching as well.
Conduct team activities
How can you bridge the virtual gap and bring your team together?
Meaningful interactions are necessary to strengthen relationships and support personal well being. Conduct some exciting sessions which gives everyone something to focus on, and people can get involved easily.
Since we’re at home staying all day, maybe putting on a few pounds too, we could obviously do some exercise. You could probably do with some motivation as well now that your gym trainer isn’t around to glare at you. How about a group fitness session?
If you haven’t had time to work on your hobbies lately, now is the best time. Unite around shared hobbies, while also sharing insight into each others’ lives.
How about starting with the book that you’ve been putting off and discussing it with your co-friends later? Play that movie that you’ve been wanting to watch, start a photography competition, maybe even knit. While you’re at it, bring some of your colleagues on board with you so you can do it together.
There was a time when we thought PUBG couldn’t get any more overrated or Call of Duty couldn’t be played enough because of the length of the game.
Enter lockdown, we’re all looking for ways to spend our time indoors. PUBG seems to be on it’s second wave, we can’t begrudge it though. If it keeps you in and occupied. Staying at home with nothing more than following the office routine, it can get on people’s nerves and become monotonous and boring.
Teams that play together stay together. Play some online games with your teammates. You’re never too old for gaming. There are plenty of games out there, pick what suits your office group. Scribbles, Psych, Ludo, Monopoly, Uno have already moved online. Keep it lighthearted though. Don’t get too competitive and pick fights over these because you got too invested. Beats the purpose.
Join group chats
Make use of Slack to keep connected, not just to work. We could all use 5-minute breaks and little pick-me-ups once a while. But there’s only so much of ‘how was your day’ or ‘what did you do today’s that can go on before you start tuning it out.
Get creative. You can make custom emojis that have to do with your organisation’s vernacular or trusted vocabulary words. You can make the people engaged in the conversations by sending GIFs also. Talk about the issues you’ve been having if you find that helpful.
Connect on different social platforms
Connect with your teammates through social media platforms to know them personally and little better. Share memes, make use of emoticons or GIFs while having a chit-chat over social apps if your coworkers are witty, fun-loving and into comedy or share daily buzz.
Instagram, Whatsapp, WeChat, Houseparty are some platforms where you can have icebreaker sessions with your coworkers not involving “work” obviously. You could engage in skittish Instagram challenges, host poll sessions or add a dose of humour, or start something of your own too. You never know, you might just find a new best friend here.
Set personal goals
Work can easily stretch well past your designated hours if you’re not capable. Over time, it can feel like it’s all you’re doing. Give yourself some personal time. Setting some goals or pursuing some side projects can help you there.
Your colleagues are the best accountability partners in this regard. Be it upskilling or personal growth, they can keep you motivated and aligned, maybe even join you in your pursuit.
Give rewards or awards
Recognition is one of the best motivators. Being recognised and appreciated pushes us to work harder and stay content.
Rewards are the best way to show this. You could have titles like “Employee of the month” or “Best target achiever” to recognise and applaud people for the work they put in. It encourages growth in the work to keep them motivated. It also improves team morale and productivity and enhances loyalty to the company.
Arrange mentorship programs
Mentoring programs leverage existing resources and talent to help everyone grow and thrive. Mentorship or buddy programs are especially useful in bringing a new employee into fold in a remote setting. Your current team could benefit from it as well. Here’s the core idea behind a successful mentorship program.
- Guide and groom your associate for the current as well as future positions.
- Support upskilling and development courses that will help them grow personally as well as professionally.
Of course, these are just some of our ideas. There are innumerable ways in which you can stay connected to your office friends and build a strong bond working remotely. The idea is to make your teams more flexible and inventive, create virtual analogues for in-person interactions is the way to do it.
Can you think of some better ideas or create your own? If you feel like sharing your ideas, you can drop them in our comment section. Also, you can email us at at email@example.com.