Keeping the Social in Social Distancing
Even in the best of times, shifting an office to remote operations is no small feat. Those of us who are new to working from home have spent the past month in reactive mode dealing with a myriad of personal and professional priorities. As the digital dust settles, however, we've found more than one silver lining: no soul-crushing commute and no one looking over our shoulders. Certainly, we're all enjoying a more relaxed dress code—what color sweatpants should I wear today? But we've also noticed something else—loneliness.
Whether we're juggling our kiddos along with WordPro or living and working solo, we miss the camaraderie and energy of the office hive. It's a double-edged sword. Along with social loneliness, we're also experiencing a feeling of professional isolation, which can compound career anxiety in these uncertain times.
The good news? We're finding simple ways to connect while apart that say, "we're all in this together." If you'd rather drop and do 100 than do one more team-building exercise, we get it. But at the risk of sounding new age, we are in a new age, and one of the benefits of "intentional" communication is it often leads to more meaningful exchanges.
Where to start? It's helpful to focus on natural touchpoints throughout our workday. Here are a few suggestions:
- Please come steal my lunch
Well, not really. But there are days when a dose of the loud office chatter would taste better than another solitary PB&J. Reach out and invite a co-worker or two for a virtual lunch date. Make it a work-free half hour and catch up on the personal. Introduce your kids or pets if you have them, or just compare work-from-home stories. If there's a new member on the team, this is a great way to break the ice.
- Coffee break? Drink up
In the absence of the real thing, remote teams are turning to dedicated chat channels for break times. Though often consumed with memes and isolation-induced chatter, these channels give way to cool, creative ideas and impromptu brainstorms. Are you a bonafide introvert? Take a risk. If you've been on a deep work roll, a quick check-in can be a welcome opportunity to fill up and recharge before you tackle your next task.
- Say yes to the buddy system
If you've been asked to pair with a team member on a project, embrace the opportunity to get to know your co-worker. Informal mentorships can evolve here, along with the potential for genuine friendships.
Your team may have found its unique social rhythm, and if so, we'd love to hear from you. In the meantime, stay safe, stay well—and stay connected.
Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek is the Chief Marketing Officer at Skillsoft.