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As weeks drag into months of remote working, how do you connect with coworkers you’re missing during the pandemic?

Connecting with Coworkers During a Pandemic

Millions of people now work from home. What do they miss the most? From those I’ve interviewed, it’s their coworkers. They miss the random coffee pot conversations. The bursts of creativity from a spontaneous hallway conversation. Not to mention, they miss catching up during the office “taco Tuesday” lunches.

Not only that, research also shows that 46% of Americans are lonely; and that was before the isolation of working from home due to the coronavirus.

Nothing Replaces In-Person

So, how can you connect with coworkers during the pandemic? For the most part, nothing replaces in-person interactions. But, these five tips can help make the distance seem less, the connections feel closer and the loneliness kept at bay.

5 Tips to Feeling Closer

  1. Add Some Fun. Research shows that work-from-home employees are working efficiently. But they also need some fun as part of their remote work culture.connect with coworkers How about having a fun theme for the virtual weekly leadership meeting or departmental meeting? Examples: Wear your favorite sports team attire; show a wrapper from your favorite Halloween candy, or “bring your pet to the office day” (for a close-up view).
  2. Turn Cameras On! This may seem obvious, but amazingly some people choose to only have their name show in the video box. We want to connect by seeing you! Bad hair day? Throw on a baseball cap? No time to put on makeup? Just toggle the Zoom setting for “enhance my appearance.” Seeing your face and making eye contact, albeit virtual, helps you connect with coworkers.
  3. Reinvent an Office Tradition. Why not still enjoy your normal “Taco Tuesday?” For instance, have one of the foodies on the team send out a recipe in advance for easy-to-make tacos or other ethnic food choices. Those not wishing to cook may order tacos from one of the popular food delivery options.
  4. Promote and Share What You’re Doing for “Self-Care.” Sharing about self-care helps you connect with coworkers on a more personal level. Self-care is part of keeping your cup filled. Ask each team member to share, “What I’m doing to fill myself up and keep my cup full.” We can only give to others and do our best work when we keep our cup full. Both mental and physical health aid in keeping your cup full. Maybe that means taking a 30-minute walk outside in the fresh air every day, taking time to meditate, doing a Pilates or Yoga video, or buying yourself some fresh flowers. And, what you’re doing can inspire another coworker. Which, in turn, creates connection and accountability.
  5. Celebrate Small and Large Victories in Your Personal and Work-Life. First, have each team member create some type of noisemaker to use for these celebrations. (You could even have a contest for best homemade noisemaker!) What to celebrate? Well, securing a new client definitely counts. And colleagues’ birthdays. But, so does reaching a new Fitbit milestone, making homemade pasta sauce instead of using the store-bought kind, or learning to use Zoom annotations or breakout rooms. And, your toddler had three dry nights in a row…celebrate that! Work-related and personal victories are all celebration-worthy. And, celebrating helps you strengthen your work relationships and feel more connected.

Feeling Connected

In summary, the loss of in-person interactions does not mean you can’t feel connected with coworkers. These tips will help everyone feel more connected, and add some fun as well to your remote working environment.

What are some ways you stay connected with coworkers? Share in the comments section below.

Rachel Wagner is a licensed business etiquette consultant, trainer and speaker, and owner of the Oklahoma-based business etiquette firm Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol. www.EtiquetteTrainer.com.Rachel provides onsite and virtual training presentations on a variety of business and dining etiquette topics for corporate clients around the country. As a licensed etiquette expert, she is interviewed and quoted in a variety of local and national media outlets including The Washington Post, MONEY, Forbes, and many more.

Image source: Tobias Rademacher at Unsplash