Feeling Disconnected While Working Remotely? Try These Tricks
Remote work has become the norm for many Americans these pandemic-fueled days, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
And while the arrangement certainly has its perks (hello, no morning commute!), it also has some workers feeling more isolated than ever. There are no morning meetings, no chats at the water cooler, and no much-needed lunch conversations with coworkers.
Are you in this same boat, feeling out of touch and disconnected?
9 tips for feeling more connected while working from home
1. Start a group chat.
Encourage regular communication by starting a group chat, setting up a Slack account, or even asking your employer to invest in Microsoft Teams. You might think about individual Slack or Teams channels — one for each project you’re working on, another for miscellaneous, and one for the fun and funny.
You could also post regular prompts or questions in your chats to keep the conversation flowing.
2. Opt for smaller Zooms and phone meetings.
There will, of course, be occasions for large-scale meetings and video conferences, but try to keep those to a minimum if at all possible. In big meetings, there’s no chance to catch up or talk to each participant in a real or meaningful way. This can leave you (and your colleagues) feeling drained, disconnected, and just undervalued.
If you can, schedule tighter-knit meetings. One-on-one calls and groups of three to five are ideal.
3. Add in social calls, too.
Not all your Zoom meetings should be business-related. Every Friday afternoon, plan a virtual happy hour or show-and-tell session for your department.
You can also pencil in coffee “dates” with a colleague or two throughout the week. Devote 15 minutes to just catching up on the latest news, and enjoying your cups of Joe, along with each others’ company. It can do wonders for your mood. (Lunch “dates” work well here, too, if you’re not keen on caffeine).
4. Start a snail mail exchange.
Staying virtually connected is great, but sometimes, you just want a nice physical reminder of those coworkers you miss so much. That’s where the good old postal service can come in.
Assign each employee a colleague at random, and ask them to mail that person a surprise — maybe a home-baked treat, a new book, or just a pen-pal style letter. Just be sure to put a monetary limit on it, so no one over- or under-spends.
You can also use this idea once the holidays roll around. Do a candy exchange at Halloween or a Secret Santa gift exchange in December.
5. Connect with your coworkers on social media.
Miss getting to hear about your cubicle mate’s kids, pets, or other drama? Find them on Facebook or Instagram, and stay in touch outside of work. It’s definitely not the same as your typical water cooler talk, but it will make sure you’re on top of what’s happening in your colleagues’ lives until things go back to normal.
6. Partner up.
Buddy up, and find yourself a telecommute accountability partner. You can go to each other with your remote work challenges, do quick, daily check-ins to stay on track, and make sure the other is staying motivated and productive.
The longer you’re working from home, the more isolated you’re going to feel, so an accountability partner is especially important as you get further and further into your stint as a telecommuter.
7. Give yourself a change of scenery.
Under normal, non-COVID conditions, a co-working set-up might be good for telecommute workers (places like WeWork, for example). They let you interact with others, you get access to certain amenities and technology, and you just feel more stimulated and productive. Unfortunately, that’s not the safest option given the pandemic.
Still, that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to the cold and sterile home office 24-7. Take your work to the kitchen table, to the couch, or to the back patio for a little Vitamin D. You might even think about relocating to a park or just a big window with views.
8. Try a contest or team activity.
Drum up some good-natured competition with a contest or two — maybe a costume contest at Halloween or some sort of cookie bake-off (just mail the entries to the judges). You can also set aside an hour or week for a big team activity (virtual, of course). Online escape rooms are a good option, as are group health sessions — things like a yoga class, expert-led meditation, etc.
9. Sync up your schedules.
It’s nice that remote work can be flexible. You might be able to “clock in” at 10 a.m., or work late at night once the kids go to sleep. Working weird hours can get isolating over time, though — especially if no one else is online at the same times as you. You won’t get fast responses, you’ll have no one to bounce ideas off of, and it will just start to feel lonely.
If you can, try to sync your schedule (at least partially) with the bulk of your team. It will help you stay in touch better and keep you feeling connected.
A good home office can help, too
If you’re feeling down about your work arrangement, make sure you have a home office you feel relaxed and at ease in (this inspo can help).
Need cash to makeover that workspace? A cash-out refinance might be able to help. Get in touch with Embrace Home Loans to see if you’re eligible.