When it comes to friendship, Helen Keller said it best, “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” Reeling from the height of the pandemic, that sentiment couldn't be truer. We've all been cooped up in our homes for months, desperate for someone to talk to who isn't our cat.
Many organisations initiated work-from-home or remote work culture to continue their operations. This leads us to the pertinent question: how does one make friends while working remotely?
Work culture in an organisation, whether remote or physical, strongly depends on the individuals, their mindset, nature, and behaviour in inhabiting their real and virtual spaces. For some, friendship acts as a motivator, a constant source of improvement, and an approach to rectify mistakes.
Let’s trickle down to see how to turn remote colleagues into friends.
Use the office chatbox: In a remote setup, real conversations are often the missing piece to building team spirit. It's wise to use or create a chatbox where people can discuss work-related issues. You can also take it further by creating informal chat groups where your peers can discuss areas of mutual interest apart from work. Don't leave this option to your superior. Take the lead and create it!
Mark your physical presence: Attending seminars, workshops, or coaching programs is an important element to foster the comfort of knowing each other. Whether in a leadership or direct-report role, organising team meetings in physical spaces is necessary to break the ice.
Exchange knowledge over shared interests: Every talent that joins the organisation brings in a wealth of knowledge, skills, expertise, and experience as well as hobbies and personal interests. If you want to increase the communication flow amongst your teammates, try organising sessions where employees get to know each other, benefit from each other's skills and knowledge, and develop a sense of purpose that enables them to achieve personal and organisational success.
Go slow to get to know each other: While many people like having friends around, not many professionals advocate sharing bonhomie with their professional group. Setting up an online call with individuals initially over a cup of coffee to talk about areas beyond work is a good option to determine the future course of the conversation.
Hold wholesome team 'happy hours' in virtual breakout rooms: Find time every week that is exclusively for teammates to have casual conversations about travel plans, leisure, and hobbies or interests. Remember to make it lively and engaging with themes around food and drink that everyone can prepare on their own!
Network in co-working spaces: Co-working spaces are a good option for working with office colleagues if your company has gone fully remote. These shared spaces provide an opportunity for building friendships.
Let's be real!!
Working remotely has been a dark and lonely road for many of us during the pandemic. But fear not! With our practical tips, you're well on your way to making friends while working remotely.