Has remote work and hybrid work arrangements had you feeling less connected to your co-workers? If so, you’re not alone. According to Pew Research Center, two-thirds of workers who were forced to move to remote working felt less connected to their co-workers. We shouldn’t underestimate the power of social connections in the workplace.
Developing relationships at work is an important yet not closely monitored aspect of employee happiness and engagement. Having workplace friendships provides you with peers and mentors that you can bounce ideas off of, get advice from, and blow off steam with. The pandemic has shown how important these relationships are to our personal and professional well-being.
According to Professor of Global Leadership at Babson College, Rob Cross, “ Even when work is mundane or demanding, you can feel as fulfilled as people with fun or inspiring jobs if you invest in work relationships that nourish you and create a sense of purpose.”
As we’ve shifted to remote working and hybrid arrangements, as well as the ongoing uncertainty of returning to the office due to COVID-19 variants, we’ve struggled to keep existing relationships or develop new ones with new hires. What this means to each of us is that we need to invest time and be more deliberate in making time to connect digitally with others.
According to a recent article from Next Avenue, below are four suggestions to help you build relationships virtually.
Create a Daily Practice
Building strong relationships with colleagues is important and can actually be easier with digital tools. Making some time each day to reach out through chat, email, or video conferencing tools (like Zoom or Teams) may actually be easier than carving out time when you’re in the office.
Mix It Up
Use a variety of methods to interact with others. If you’re constantly using Zoom or Teams and getting a little burnt out with it, try a virtual walk-and-talk or virtual coffee as a different way of interacting with colleagues. You can also take a cue from professors and schedule weekly office hours. This is a great option for executives and other leaders to make it easy to connect with people on their team in a less structured format.
If you pay attention during the small talk that happens as everyone is on a video call but waiting for it to start, you may learn something about a colleague you didn’t know. This can provide a great opportunity to connect over a shared interest, check in on how they are doing, or simply an opportunity to reach out to learn more.
Many companies have created or expanded affinity groups that are designed specifically for employees to connect with one another. Whether it be social (like a book club), a minority interest group, or a role-based group (such as cloud privacy practices), bonding over shared interests is a great way to build camaraderie with others at work.
If you have developed any programs that have helped your employees who are feeling less connected, let us know, and perhaps we’ll share it in a future blog post.