As we come to grips with COVID-19 and social distancing becomes an integral part of our daily lives, Canadian workers are learning how to work remotely. We’re perfecting our home offices and workspaces, organizing our days, and trying our best to remain productive. We’re staying home and staying safe, but working from home can quickly become disheartening without the social context of a traditional office.
Remote workers face a number of challenges, chief among them is staying connected with your team when you’re not in the workplace each day. Let’s face it, work is as much about building meaningful connections as it is about helping our employers reach their business goals. Our colleagues inspire us and our leaders support us. So how do we stay motivated, stimulated, and connected when we are limiting physical contact?
schedule daily meetings
An easy way to encourage team spirit is by staying involved in each other’s work. Schedule a 15 minute meeting with your colleagues to discuss company updates, urgent projects, and priorities for the day. Given the context in which most of us are working from home, it’s crucial to stay on top of new information. This will ensure that you and your team are in sync and feel included in the company’s work.
prioritize video conferencing
We’ve all complained about that meeting that could have been an email. But when we’re social distancing, meetings are one of the few times we’re able to connect with others. So have that meeting even if it’s maybe not 100% necessary! And make it a video-call. Seeing your colleagues’ faces, and maybe even their pets and children, will add a human element to your calls. This is especially meaningful for those of us who live alone and who are feeling disconnected during this difficult period. Even if you’re camera shy (or dressed in sweats or comfy work from home attire!) turn on the webcam a few times a week. It will help you feel close to your colleagues and involved in your work.
create a group chat
In between meetings and calls, remote work can get lonely. You can tackle this by staying connected with your team in a group chat. It’s almost impossible to virtually replicate the social dynamic of being at work, but having all your colleagues in one place can help keep the connection alive. Many of us already have an office chat, so now it’s time to truly leverage it. Keep in touch throughout the day by sharing tidbits, anecdotes, and a steady stream of memes (we know you’re doing it!)
put mental health first
The reason why it’s so important to prioritize communication during self-isolation is not only for the sake of efficiency, but also for the sake of our mental health. Social distancing is hard on everyone, but it’s especially difficult for those suffering from anxiety and other mental health issues. So make an effort to stay in touch with your co-workers. Reach out to your colleague who is shy, your colleague who has been quieter than usual, and even your colleague who seems completely fine. As humans, we’re social creatures and, in an effort to protect our communities, we may find ourselves struggling. Offer your support openly and ask for support when you need it.
keep up with social interactions
For many of us, work is a big part of our social lives. Our colleagues are our friends, and being disconnected from them can take a toll on our enthusiasm for remote work. Staying social can help bridge the gap. Plan a virtual team lunch, a Skype coffee break, or a digital happy hour to nurture the feeling of togetherness. By continuing to foster positive relationships between team members, we can address some of the challenges of working from home.
In 2020, most workers have the technology to be fully operational from home. We’re able to keep up with daily work while prioritizing the health and safety of our communities. By supporting each other, remaining available, and keeping communication lines open, we can dismantle the barriers of remote work and ease the mental strain of social distancing. Staying connected is a reminder that we’re all in this together.