HOW TO FEEL LESS ISOLATED FROM YOUR TEAM
The shift to home working is a necessary step, but it will be a rough ride for some people, particularly at the moment. If we don’t actively keep up certain types of communication, we can quickly start to feel isolated at the very time when we need a sense of togetherness.
Here are a few ways to maintain the communication channels, cultivate your relationships and still feel connected with your team – even when you’re physically isolated from them.
Work relationships are not just about work
Informal communication helps to create and strengthen working relationships. Natters over coffee, the Monday morning catch up after the weekend, and chats in the office are all an integral part of many people’s working lives.
Banter over coffee can still happen even if you’re not in the office kitchen. Many teams are setting up online ‘Coffee’ groups on Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or even Facebook. That way you can come together at a regular time each day, and have an informal catch up.
Having a group or chatroom open during the day that everyone can drop into, can also work well – if nothing else, it gives you a way of saying “good morning” to each other!
Establish a regular schedule for calls early on, otherwise contact can easily fade out over the weeks. Having a scheduled call with a team mate once a week, gives you something to look forward to and guarantees you will actually speak with them.
Regular team meetings online really help to remind you that you are still part of a team. This could be a quick daily meeting in the morning or on a weekly basis
For many of us, our colleagues are a vital part of our informal emotional support network. The people we chat to when we have concerns or just need a rant. The people who offer advice or simply make us smile. The people who make us realise we’re not alone.
If you’re struggling, reach out to someone. Give them a call and have a chat. Be honest with them. It is highly likely that they’re having similiar challenges!
Check in with your team mates on a regular basis. Take an active interest in them as a person – not just in terms of their role at work.
- Ask how they’re doing and genuinely listen to the answer
- Give them a little update on any news your end
- Find out how their weekend was
- Share a silly joke
- Send them a funny video of puppies just to make them laugh
Afterall human connection is not cultivated through sharing project documents or weekly outcomes – it’s based on being humans, together.
Consider how you communicate
Sharing quick updates on a project or exchanging documents can easily be done through emails, but do not rely on messages and emails for everything.
There are many ways that people can communicate when they’re working from home, from texts through to video conversations. But think through what method is best for what you are trying to achieve.
Hearing someone’s voice and seeing someone’s face allows for better communication and a much greater sense of connection. If you can, bite the bullet and embrace video calling on occasions.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that written communication can quickly become very functional, particularly when we’re feeling time pressured or stressed. The little niceties are lost for the sake of speed. While understandable on occasions, it can become habitual.
So don’t lose sight of the ‘human’ behind the inbox. Remembering the ‘many thanks’, or the smiley face, take just moments and help people to remember they are valued.
Emotions and the need for compassion
When people are struggling, they think and act in different ways. The person who is normally the loudest in the office, may go quiet and the colleague that usually has the patience of a saint, may be irritable. This is understandable right now.
We need to recognise that we are all under different pressures and many people are experiencing a whole range of heightened emotions.
It is now that human connection is needed more than ever, but true depth of connection comes from compassion.
If someone is acting out of character, try to remember what they may be going through.
If someone goes quiet, check in with them.
If you’re struggling or feeling lonely – reach out to someone. It’s likely that you’re not the only one that’s feeling that way!
On a final note...
This is one situation that we are all in together. So let’s make sure we stay together – even if it’s virtually for a while.