Staying connected in a virtual world is sometimes not as easy as it sounds. That seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?
But think about it especially in terms of work — when we were in the office, especially as a junior level, we had access to all of our colleagues on almost a daily basis. They saw us, they saw the work we were doing, they said hi to ask, they asked for our opinions, and so on. We were easily accessible to them and they were easily accessible to us. But now in this virtual world, that is impossible.
We “see” their names in our inboxes and we may “see” their faces on a video call. It’s not the same! There is no chit-chat while waiting on line for the coffee machine or by the water cooler. There is no walking to grab lunch together. There is no bumping into each other in the bathroom. These types of natural, spur of the moment connections that helped establish relationships is no longer possible in this remote world.
There are ways that you can still stay connected with colleagues when working remotely. It is not 100% the same, but here are some ideas as to how.
5 Ways To Stay Connected With Colleagues When Working Remotely
1. Schedule Coffee Chats/Happy Hours
Think back to when you were in the office and think about how many casual conversations you had with colleagues while waiting for coffee or after work at happy hour. It will not be the same, but this can be somewhat done virtually.
Schedule a 15-30 minute “coffee break” during the day and invite your colleague(s) to it. You can talk or vent about work or just catch-up on life. It will give you a nice little break during the day, too.
Another option rather than interrupting your day is to schedule a virtual happy hour for the end of the day or after work hours. This is a great way to unwind and connection in a more informal setting.
2. Ping Them When You See They’re Free
Most of us likely use some sort of messaging app whether that be Skype, Slack, Teams, Google Chat, or so on. These tools let us see when our colleagues are in meetings, busy, or when they are free. If you see that “green light” that typically indicates that they are free, ping them to simply say “hi, how are you?”
You do not need to start a long, in-depth conversation via this messenger, but a quick check-in will help you stay on their radar, and show them that you care about how they are doing, and that you want to remain in contact.
3. Ask Their Advice
We are always learning. If there is a project you are working on or a powerpoint you need to get done, reach out to your colleagues to ask them for their advice.
This advice can be about anything — about more background on the project, any prevalent information they may know that you don’t, a question you have about the team you are working with, and so on. Especially if you know that one of your colleagues has experience with that project or team, setting up time with them to gain their perspective is a good idea. Plus, it will show them how much you care about this project and show them that you value their opinion and feedback!
4. Have Them Peer Review Your Work
Everything can use a second set of eyes — everything. Asking a colleague (or multiple colleagues) to be those you can go to as a peer review is a good idea. It will help to keep you in contact, as well as show them what you are working on. It will also be even more beneficial to you as you are having a fresh set of eyes look at your work!
This helps to find any errors or redundancies you may not have realized (let’s be real, everything starts to get a bit blurry when we stare at it for too long). They also may have insight on the audience you are trying to reach that they can share with you, which can help you properly word or develop whatever you are working on.
5. Set Up Re-Occurring Calls
Get yourself on your colleagues calendars! Especially if you have a colleague that you want to serve as your mentor, set up weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly calls.
The best way to stay connected with colleagues is to still “see” them on regular basis, and in the world of remote work, the best way to “see’ each other is through video calls. Find a time that works for you both, and set up these re-occurring calls. If something happens to come up, the calls can be adjusted, but having something set in stone from the get-go will make a difference, and keep your connection strong!
Working remotely will likely become somewhat of a more normalized thing over the next few years. This means it’s important for us to figure out how to stay connected to our colleagues even if we aren’t seeing them everyday.