Hello everyone. My name is Dakota Clark, and I'm an extrovert.
As a person who thrives in busy social environments, the pandemic has been a trying experience for my mental health. Last March, I went from spending most of my day in a vibrant team environment to spending most of my day alone.
Early on in the first lockdown, I realized that it's not the big events I missed the most. What I truly craved were the small moments – those bits of daily connection that I often took for granted throughout the day.
I would often joke that working from home made me feel like a ghost. Sometimes, especially during focused work, I would go the whole day without talking to another person.
Being in a traditional office environment allows for so many connection touchpoints that you miss while at home. Hellos from a co-worker on the way to the printer, a smile from the receptionist while walking into the office, sharing a laugh with your neighbour - all of these are lost in the work from home experience.
Life without these little moments has been difficult; however, it's also challenged me to find new ways to find connection in my day.
Here are my favourite tips for connecting with my team:
1. Make time for Chit Chat
My favourite advice for people who miss their team is to schedule a time early in the week to talk about nothing.
I have a standing Monday meeting - usually just 20 - 30 minutes long - and it provides a valuable opportunity to have those catch-up conversations we miss while not in the office. You know? The "how was your weekend?" "What did you do?" chit-chat.
These are a great way to infuse some normalcy into your day and build those little connection points back into your day.
2. Keep your Coffee Breaks
It's easy when you're working from home to quickly run to the kitchen, make a coffee, then immediately get back at it. Instead, try stretching these moments out and taking 5 to 10 minutes to message a co-worker.
It doesn't have to be involved. You can ask how their day is going, send them an article you read or your favourite meme - anything to let them know you're thinking about them will go a long way.
3. Call first, text later
Sending a quick Teams or Slack message might seem like the most efficient way to answer questions, but if your day allows, call someone! It's just that easy.
4. Schedule time for Office Noises
This one is a bit out there, but I swear it works: schedule group focus time. This is a group video chat where everyone works independently, together.
Think of it as a virtual coworking space. Book a block of time where everyone can come and go at their leisure. These scheduled focus times are also great opportunities for close-knit teams to ask questions aloud for a quick resolution.
Plus, hearing the quiet sounds of people working with you is surprisingly relaxing.
5. Dig Deeper in team meetings
Lastly, instead of immediately jumping into business at our weekly team meetings, my team takes time to ask a weekly question. These are easy getting to know you questions that help build team relationships while also providing valuable moments of connection.
Some of our favourite questions so far:
- What was the first concert you ever went to?
- What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
- What's your ideal breakfast?
Let us know what you think! Do you have any tips or tricks for staying connected while you work from home? We'd love to hear them in the comments.