“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.” – Shannon L. Alder on community
One of the biggest learning curves we have hit during lockdown is the reality of working remotely; from home. Of course, there are many lovely benefits to working from home; no more commuting, you can work in your pyjamas (unless you are in a Zoom meeting of course, in which case, a shirt and tie on top), you can manage your hours more flexibly, you have more family time and are spending less money in Pret.
However, it’s also prey tricky to work from home. There are more distractions at home, it’s more long winded to ask a colleague a question, home life and work life lines become blurred and, perhaps most distressingly, it is pretty lonely. One of the joys of a workplace is the community it creates, and working from home has robbed many of us of many little things about the bustle of a workplace that we didn’t know we’d miss. For one, I actually miss my commute, visiting the coffee shop where they know my name and my route through central London. I miss hearing about what is going on with others via their mouths and not through WhatsApp. I miss collaborating in real time with somebody who is half a metre away.
It looks like home working is going to be heavily mandated for a while longer. So, for the sake of everybody’s wellbeing and resilience, here are a few ideas on how to connect with your work community mid-pandemic.
1. Social Meetings
Of course, meeting socially is complex at the moment, but what I am suggesting is something slightly different. A great idea is to schedule a weekly online meeting (via Zoom, for example) with your colleagues, but one that is not about work. This meeting is just an opportunity to catch up with what is going on in people’s lives, how they are feeling, and to just give everyone an opportunity to connect in a more relaxed way. The little things about people’s lives that you pick up in a workplace are what give workplace communities their richness and their vibrancy. These things also help you to know your colleagues better. A weekly online meeting may not replicate that entirely, but it will certainly help.
Another reason that this is important is something a friend of mine mentioned to me recently. He is a team leader at his work, and through lockdown has had to give a lot of support to those who live alone. For many people who live alone, the workplace is a primary source of human contact. This casual online meeting is also working towards helping those people, and trying to boost their resilience.
2. Walking Meetings
Indoor situations are much more risky than outdoor situations at present. If is it possible, why not put an afternoon aside each week to meet and have your work meeting outdoors? The weather is still likely to be pleasant for a few months, and getting out of the house is really important to ensure that you don’t become lethargic… this will only impede your productivity. Get outside, find a park and have a meeting that way.
3. Encourage Collaboration
Where possible, try to ensure that your colleagues aren’t working on things solo too often. Encourage group projects and champion collaboration (even if it is just asking a colleague to look over some work). Fostering communication ensures that your colleagues stay connected and in tune with each other. It also helps to remind everybody that they are still part of something bigger than themselves, that they are not just slogging away on their own.
4. Just Check In
I have been guilty in the last few months of moping a little and wondering why nobody has checked in on me in a while. The likelihood is that many people, friends and colleagues alike, are feeling the same. So, perhaps, you should be the one to reach out. My suggestion is that you simply pick one person a day to send a quick message to, just to check in. You will soon find that your interaction will increase and your mood, hopefully, will lift.
By Chris Thomson
If you are somebody who works and lives at home alone and are missing your workplace community, make sure you look after yourself! Self-Care During Solo Isolation
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