After working in a physical office for much of your career, transitioning to a virtual workspace will take some adjustment and may present certain challenges. To maintain a sense of connectedness and balance, it is important to stay in touch with your colleagues.
When you continue cultivating these supportive relationships, it will fill your tank and equip you to focus on your work priorities. If we become detached or feel a sense of isolation, it can cloud our outlook and inhibit our determination to accomplish our goals.
Whether you are just now transitioning to your company’s virtual work force or have been working remotely for a while, the strategies highlighted here can spark some ideas about what works well for you.
- Call your colleagues. When you feel the urge to send a colleague an email to ask them a question or share a quick update, pick up the phone and give them a call instead. Often, you will get a chance to catch up briefly before diving into the reason for your call. These small interactions will help you feel more connected than exchanging emails.
- Use video calls. Hearing the voice of your colleague is one thing, but being able to see their face can provide a deeper sense of connection. Seeing their nonverbal cues can give you even more context and, if you notice they are a bit off today, it may prompt you to ask about what else may be going on.
o Face to face, even virtually, we do more things like maintain eye contact, smile and nod along as the other person speaks. This behavior gives us a feeling similar to what we experience when engaging in an in-person conversation.
o On a video call, you show off your work environment. Your cat curled up in the corner and your family portrait in the background gives others a glimpse into your reality.
- Schedule time just for relationships. Looking at your calendar will inform you of your priorities. If you are not intentionally carving out time for relationships, then you are not prioritizing them. Even a 20-minute catch up every day or two can give you the same sense of connectedness as running into a colleague at the proverbial water cooler.
- Plan coffee breaks. Schedule coffee, or even breakfast or lunch, with one or more colleagues. When you work in an office, you often have a space to sit down and share a meal together. Use this time to have a conversation about whatever comes to mind. It can be about your weekend, your family or a work project you are collaborating on.
- Share pictures of your home, family, pets and hobbies with your colleagues. Show off milestones, remodeling projects at home, a beautiful sunset on your evening walk or when your dog makes a funny face. These are the wonderful conversation starters, prompting others to share right back.
o To share in a more structured and public way, focus on one colleague each month. Depending on the size of your organization, this may be with the whole company or just with your team. Designate one colleague to answer prepared questions about themselves and to share a picture of their choosing. Post this where others can see it or send it out in an email. You may learn something about a team member that you never would have learned otherwise!
Which of these methods works best for you? What other practices do you use to stay connected with your colleagues? Hopefully you can take something new from these ideas to incorporate into your personal approach to building and nurturing relationships with your colleagues.
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-Cody Pfeiffer is the Management Consulting Team Lead at Talent Plus.