Connecting With Coworkers in a Hybrid Kinda World
Remember when we were all cheers-ing over virtual happy hours? While we’re still accidentally talking over each other on Zoom and adding emojis to soften our tone on Slack, the happy-hour era seems like a sweeter time. A recent study on the interpersonal effects of remote work—conducted among 61,000 Microsoft employees and published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour—found that remote workers had become less interconnected and more siloed; they collaborated less; and they communicated less with people outside of their business groups.
But it’s not all womp womp. There are ways to create deeper, more meaningful connections with your coworkers, from IRL to URL. Here are three easy ways to make a difference in your daily interactions ASAP.
Turn your camera on (hear us out)
This might seem obvious, but it can also feel hard to be Zoom-ready all the time. (Midday shower people, get at us.) And video fatigue is real. But regularly going camera-off hides your natural non-verbal cues from other people. Micro facial expressions can help show your manager how you really feel about that feedback, that you’re actually pretty excited about your project manager’s new idea, or that you’re all in on the NFT tangent the convo has taken.
If you could use a confidence boost when it comes to showing your face—staring at yourself in a meeting can feel like falling down a rabbit hole of fun-house mirrors—try taking the time to master your video-call game. Migrate your setup so your meticulously styled bookcase is now your default backdrop, you get to sit in your comfiest chair, and the window light gives your face an instant glow-up.
Try virtual group hangs
Working alongside other people, even if you’re not chatting it up, can be a major mood and productivity boost—just ask any freelancer who squatted at coffee shops for the past 10 years. If you miss your office gang, see if one or two of them are down for a live work sesh that’ll naturally turn into a study-hall vibe, in a good way. Discord has an open-meeting room option for audio, or use Slack’s similar “huddle” feature. Or go low risk: Start an ongoing group Slack and let the memes flow.
Schedule in social time
Forced “fun” sounds as exhilarating as de-icing your fridge in the middle of winter, but the alternative may feel like grinding it out on an island. So reach out, specifically about something unrelated to a work project. Make it a habit by setting a recurring reminder at least a couple times a week. Work is work, but it’s also a complex social organization. Keep relationships flourishing through coffee chats, informal one-on-ones, and walk-and-talks around the block—the office’s or your own (with AirPods).
Ask your IT buddy about their ski trip this weekend! Slack the person on your last call about where they got their great sweater! Just make time to talk that talk.