Connecting With Co-Workers in the Virtual Workplace
Updated: Nov 3
By Abibe Azizi, Account Coordinator, Fall 2020
With the pandemic in full swing and virtually (pun intended) no clear end in sight, work from home has now become the norm for many across the country. While this is the best option for everyone’s safety, many are finding it difficult to connect with their coworkers. This feeling is amplified for those beginning new roles during the pandemic. Despite this, there are still ways you can bond with your coworkers, even if it’s over a Zoom call instead of Happy Hour:
Schedule virtual coffee sessions. Making time to get to know your coworkers is super important. While this can be difficult in an online setting, it is not impossible. Take the initiative and schedule virtual coffee breaks with your team. You can discuss common interests, the news, favorite TV series, or share stories to get to know each other better. As a result, everyone will feel more comfortable around each other, which will only benefit the collaboration process in the virtual office.
Try to create genuine and natural conversation. Compliment their pets or kids. Everyone loves their pets and kids, and as a result, will enjoy talking about them. You’ll notice that when you ask people about their kids/pets, they tend to add a funny story about them into the conversation. A bonus tip here is to remember the name of their kids/pet, so in the future, you can refer to their loved ones by name in conversation. This will help develop your relationship because it shows you are listening when they speak. Of course, use your best judgment on if it is appropriate to briefly sway the meeting discussion. If the meeting is about a very urgent topic, don’t try and connect with your coworkers to bond.
Use memes and emojis when chatting. Only use this tip with coworkers in your peer group or superiors you are very comfortable with. Adding some humor to the never-ending chats will make your coworkers laugh and get a better sense of your personality. However, before you use this tip, make sure you have a basic understanding of your coworkers' sense of humor so that you can send things that are entertaining. For example, during my last internship, I had a coworker that I knew enjoyed the Lori Lightfoot memes that blew up during the early stages of quarantine. So, when I could embed those memes into conversation, I would. Other times, if there was one I found very funny, I would just send it and say, “thought you’d laugh at this!”
The virtual workplace does make it more difficult to connect, but it doesn’t make it impossible. Humans are social beings, and it’s likely that your coworkers are missing workplace connections as well. Taking these tips can push you in the right direction, and you’ll find that these tips will also make work more enjoyable for you!