Bridging Social Distance While Working from Home

Working from home is the new normal and is here to stay for some time. While many employees who dislike long commutes and traffic are finding it convenient, others are struggling because it’s not easy to find comfort in working remotely, especially in light of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. There are concerns about loneliness, disrupted teamwork, and a drop off in productivity when staff are suddenly dispersed from each other.

Social distancing while working from home

People miss face-to-face interactions, casual conversations by the coffee machine, and just the physical presence of colleagues at work. Much has already been written about best practices of changing out of your pajamas, creating a dedicated workspace, and proper Zoom etiquette. But here are six effective emotional tips to stave off feelings of isolation, strengthen team bonding, and enhance employee wellbeing while working remotely.

Enable your video

Video calls are the next best thing to in-person meetings when technology is working properly. It boosts your morale to see colleagues as you talk to them. Sharing a joke and laughing together on team calls go a long way in lightening the mood in times of enforced remote working due to the pandemic. Not all meetings have to be a video call, but it helps to have one every day or at intervals convenient to team members in different time zones. Visual interaction also enables managers to motivate and coach employees more effectively than email alone.

Energize mundane status meetings

Whether video or voice calls, routine status meetings can become a bit of a drag. It’s a good idea to liven up the proceedings by beginning the meeting with a short bonding activity. Team members can take turns creating 5-minute icebreakers. It could be a simple word game, riddle, or quiz. The main objective is to make it fun. Based on your organization’s culture and team communication styles, effective bonding will inspire more engagement and collaboration resulting in better outcomes.

Attend webinars and virtual conferences together

With the entire team working from home, this is a great opportunity to attend industry-specific webinars or virtual conferences together. These will not only help employee enrichment, but can be great for teambuilding. After each session, colleagues can share observations and engage in productive discussions on the webinar topic.

Hold a virtual happy hour

At work, downtime can be fun. Over lunch, office celebrations, or drinks, people have casual conversations with their colleagues about all matters work and personal. Setting up biweekly video calls with the team will allow everyone to meet informally, discuss innovation, share recipes, gossip about the latest Netflix series, and just talk about how they are feeling. This will work best in small teams. Larger teams can be broken into small groups for the virtual meet-ups. This one is a definite mood enhancer!

Start online activity groups

Apart from work, in these times of social distancing, it may be a good idea to find colleagues with similar interests and start an online hobby club. Activity groups, such as clubs for books, gardening, or gaming, could meet online once a week. The forum could be used to post videos and photos, hold live sessions, and share tips and tricks about the pastime. There are many online video tools such as Skype that support this interaction at no cost. Participating in online clubs can enhance a sense of belonging and keep feelings of loneliness at bay while following intellectual pursuits.

Encourage physical activity

When staying at home is imperative for safety, all team members should be encouraged to stretch their legs. Regular exercise will help avoid health issues arising from sitting at a desk for long hours. Select members from the team who can lead this initiative. They can share easy workout routines, online fitness programs, step-counting competitions, and health tips to get everyone started on a wellness journey.

While we all learn to cope in the coronavirus era, your organization will want to adopt some easy, dependable ways to motivate teams and keep them healthy and productive as they work remotely.

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