How to keep the social element of your working life alive as remote working becomes the norm

How to keep the social element of your working life alive as remote working becomes the norm

The average workday is normally peppered with social interactions. In the average office, you didn’t really need to try too hard to build relationships with your colleagues. This is because you’d see them in social spaces like the kitchen, by the coffee machine, during meetings, or going for the occasional pint after work.

However, when the pandemic hit, this all changed. As remote working became the norm, we had fewer opportunities to socialise with colleagues – and this is important. The Society for Human Resource Management’s Employee Job Satisfaction and Employee Report revealed that morale and retention rates all improve when employees feel connected to one another.

As we mentioned in our previous article on increased productivity while remote working, all this progress will be undermined if we can’t sustain a positive working environment. This means staying social – here are some tips on how.

Make yourself available

Like many people who began working from home during the pandemic, you might be finding it challenging to balance home and work life. Alternatively, you might be enjoying the flexibility that allows you to go for long walks or jogs during the day. This time to yourself is important, but you also need to make time for your colleagues. It’s not to suggest that you have to be at your desk or on the phone all day, but it’s good to share your schedule so colleagues know when they can contact you. This will stop you from slipping off the grid.

Be visible

Where possible, seeing each other fosters a greater connection than hearing each other. This means opting for video conferencing where possible and make sure cameras are on. Being able to interpret facial expressions and body language will make all the difference, and plus, it prevents you from getting distracted. However, you can still feel distant on a video call, particularly in large groups. A good strategy to get everyone engaged is to kick off with an ice-breaker question – something silly like, what’s your favourite animal or ice cream flavour. The key is to keep it light.

Have a bit of fun

The ice-breaker tip brings us onto perhaps the most important point – which is to remember to have a bit of fun. Endless video conferencing can feel a bit stilted, so make the effort to ensure not every interaction is formal. Organising morning or afternoon online coffee breaks can give you the chance to talk about things non-work related, or equally, an online after-work happy hour. Zoom birthday drinks will also help remind staff they’re part of a team that values them.

Keep looking out for each other

The pandemic has been challenging – and it’s going to affect our lives for a long time to come. Changes in our working environment, like remote working, are set to continue. A recent report from Buffer and AngelList found that 20% of remote workers feel lonely, and ultimately, this will knock productivity. In light of this, we need to be mindful of how best to support each other and stay connected.

The techniques are simple, it just requires a little extra effort. Often, it’ll be down to leaders to facilitate this new working environment, but the benefits will quickly become clear. According to research by the World Economic Forum, sociable workplaces are productive workplaces – so it’s time to nurture this environment in our new context.