Hey there, fellow remote work warriors! The fact that our work environment has undergone a massive transformation in recent times, is no longer news. However, trying to capture workplace joy and emotional satisfaction with this way of working has put up more of a challenge than first anticipated. When we moved to virtual/hybrid work we took with us our current work-based relationships. But over time (and as people move on to different projects and roles) you may lose touch with those work colleagues with whom you were familiar and comfortable.
Now you may face the daunting task of building new relationships (or trying to maintain established ones over time and distance). It’s a clear case of how absence does not necessarily make the heart grow fonder. With virtual and hybrid setups being the norm (even when you need to be in the office 2-3 days a week), building meaningful relationships with co-workers may seem like a daunting task. But fear not, because I'm here to spill the beans on how to foster those connections and why it's crucial for your emotional and mental wellbeing.
In the virtual or hybrid workspace, gone are the days of spontaneous over-the-cubical chats or team lunches. But that doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the camaraderie and support that comes with in-person interactions. Here's how you can forge strong relationships and the reasons why doing so is an advantage for your emotional and mental health:
Embrace Virtual Water Coolers:
In a physical office, the water cooler is where the magic happens – casual conversations, laughs, and bonding. In the virtual world, this magic spot is usually a chat channel or a virtual hangout room. Embrace it! Drop in, say hello, share a laugh - these informal interactions help build rapport.
Schedule Virtual Coffee Breaks:
Just because you're not sitting next to each other doesn't mean you can't enjoy a coffee break together. Set up virtual coffee sessions with colleagues to chat about non-work-related topics and strengthen your connections.
Be an Empathetic Listener:
In virtual or hybrid setups, it's vital to be an attentive and empathetic listener (either on the phone, or with video-on). When someone shares their thoughts or experiences, be genuinely engaged, and show that you care. Your support can make a world of difference in their day.
Participate Actively in Virtual Meetings:
It's easy to zone out during virtual meetings, but resist the urge to multitask. Active participation shows your commitment to teamwork and helps you understand your colleagues better.
Organize Virtual Team-Building Activities:
Get creative with virtual team-building activities! From online games to virtual escape rooms, organizing these events fosters a sense of togetherness and fun (Need some help? Here's my top 5 suggestions for virtual team building).
Share Celebrations and Milestones:
Don't let distance prevent you from celebrating achievements and milestones. Recognize your co-workers' accomplishments and join in their joys to strengthen your bond.
Foster a Culture of Recognition:
Give praise and recognition freely when your co-workers excel. A culture of appreciation uplifts everyone's spirits and promotes a positive atmosphere. Doing it consistently means people won’t think you’re just “being nice”, they’ll know you really mean it.
Create Virtual Watering Holes:
Set up social platforms for your team, like Slack channels or Microsoft Teams groups, where colleagues can share hobbies, interests, and inspirations outside of work.
Offer Support and Help:
In a virtual or hybrid environment, it's essential to offer assistance to colleagues in need. Whether it's work-related guidance or a listening ear during challenging times, being supportive builds trust and rapport.
Now, let's talk about why nurturing these virtual connections is crucial for your emotional and mental health:
Building and maintaining relationships with co-workers in a virtual or hybrid working environment requires a little extra effort, but it's well worth it. The emotional and mental health benefits of having a supportive work community are immeasurable. So, let's embrace this new era of work and create a virtual haven of camaraderie and understanding. Cheers to forging virtual vibes that last!