Written by: Riley Burke
When it comes to working virtually, the benefits are hard to ignore. Working in your pajamas, hanging out with your pets or plants all day, and never having to sit in morning traffic can make life on the job a lot easier. However, there is one thing sometimes missing from a virtual workspace: human connection. The unfortunate truth of the online office is that between colleagues in different time zones, meetings limited to business-related video calls, and the inability to be physically next to co-workers in a room all day, may leave some feeling like they lack strong relationships with their colleagues.
Despite this, all hope is not lost! There are many ways to build close and lasting connections with your colleagues without ever meeting them in-person! For those struggling to build connections with colleagues while working from home, here are some tips to make the home office a social space–virtually.
1. Create a Virtual Common Space
In an in-person office, there are often areas meant only for common gathering: a break room, a hallway with a water cooler, or even just a lobby. These spaces can allow for some real bonding time. You can share personal stories, something funny you saw on Twitter, or talk about the most recent episode of Euphoria. These common spaces are great for building closer connections with your colleagues and can be incorporated into your virtual office, too!
Creating a designated non-work related office or team-wide group-chat on Slack, GroupMe, Messenger, or another communications platform of your choosing, can be a great tool for colleague bonding! This is a virtual space where you can talk about your weekend, share funny cat videos, or simply get to know one another a little better. A virtual space like this can help boost team morale and grow closer with far-away co-workers!
2. Use Social Media to Build Personal Connections!
Keep up with your co-workers on social media! Add them on Facebook, follow each other on Instagram, or become mutuals on Twitter. You can keep up with your physically distant colleagues this way and it’s a great conversation starter. You can ask your co-worker about the hike they went on over the weekend and posted about, or the amazing-looking restaurant they posted to their Instagram.
3. Ask Questions and Check-In
To build real connections, it’s important to treat conversations with your virtual colleagues as though they were in-person conversations! Get to know one another better by asking about their background or their interests. Be sure to follow up with them, too! If you see something you think they’d like, send it over.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and offer support to a coworker if they express that they are struggling. Try to sustain your connections like you would with a co-worker in person by checking in about their role in the office and just generally asking how they’re doing!
4. Host Virtual Social Events
Finally, a great tool for colleague bonding is fun non-work-related virtual events! These are great for bonding and, with the addition of video calls, can easily increase your working connections. Try a quick coffee break once a day where you chat about your lives and interests, maybe host a fun cooking night where the entire staff comes together online to try and cook a dish, or even host a virtual yoga class to emphasize team wellness.
A trivia or game night is another fun event to promote team bonding. Through the help of online party game platforms like Jackbox, a virtual game night is an easy and fun way to unwind with coworkers and bond through teamwork building competition. These events can allow you to better get to know your colleagues and make you more comfortable with them face-to-face.
These simple tips can better grow your relationship with your virtual colleagues, despite the physical distance, and encourage an online workplace where colleagues are just as close as they would be in person!