Research has shown that when employees have friends at work, they are better performers, more engaged, and happier with their jobs. However, thanks in large part to technology, how we relate to our coworkers is changing due to COVID-19.
Working from home can be difficult. Even with a calendar filled to the brim with Zoom meetings and endless Slack chats, working from home can be isolating. It is particularly true if you start a new job remotely or transition into a new position where you are now interacting with a different group of people. The issue with making work friends and developing personalized relationships remotely is that you don’t have many organic and random interactions with people that allow you to engage in conversations that reveal common interests leading into a stronger bond. When working remotely, most of the engagement you now have with people at work is scheduled. To make friends, it’s essential to be open enough with colleagues to share some of your interests outside of the workplace.
Additionally, you can intersperse your interests virtually through your Zoom background or through your Slack profile. If you’re having remote meetings with your home in the background, set up a few things that are visible markers of what is important to you, whether it is books, sports teams, musical instruments, or artwork. Those pieces of personal information can give people ways to connect with you organically and creates opportunities for more in-depth conversations that don’t have to do with work assignments and projects. Displaying your non-work self will make you come off more approachable and friendly.
Here are some of our tips for building deeper connections with your work colleagues remotely.
Reach out several colleagues to connect virtually.
Catch up with your colleagues you haven’t spoken to in a while, by scheduling some time on their calendar for a virtual coffee or lunch date, or ask for an update through Slack. See how they’re doing with their workload, how their weekend was, or share an article or video they may enjoy to spark a conversation.
Partake in virtual after-hour activities.
Gather with colleagues after work hours to get to know each other more on a personal level. Plan game nights and happy hours to not only participate in team-building but to also connect with your coworkers.
Join an ERG.
Typically organized around a shared, immutable identity, such as race, gender, age, or mental health, ERGs serve as a haven of belonging, offering a space for underrepresented employees and their allies to find one another. Consider joining your company’s ERG groups to foster community, collaboration, and connection.