be a remote rock star
Connections matter more than ever
Considering social changes afoot in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked our team of virtual-office veterans what advice they would give to someone new to remote working on six hot topics. Choose a topic below:
Managing social connections
The idea of “gathering around the water cooler” is so ubiquitous it’s almost funny—especially since so many of us have never actually seen a water cooler, let alone gathered around one. But the concept of a water cooler is still useful; when we work in office spaces, we usually do find times and places to gather—moments of human connection, however small, that can positively transform the day of even the most introverted among us. In the world of remote work, this is still possible, but it requires a little more intention and the right tools. Here’s what our experts have for you:
Your camera is your friend. Get yourself in some kind of acceptable form (from the waist up, at least) and turn your camera on when you do video chats—and you’ll be doing lots of them. Give your colleagues and clients the ability to read your body language. And read theirs. Use the “Brady Bunch” setting (“gallery view” if you’re looking for it) if you use Zoom. It’ll make a huge difference.
You may not be able to gather around the water cooler, but you can gather around your machines, share your faces with each other, and still get some good office gossip in—even if it’s just that the cat won’t stop shredding your pant legs while you’re trying to finish that spreadsheet.
And speaking of cameras, I encourage you to find time every week to “open a portal” with a few of your closer colleagues and/or friends. Here’s what I mean by that: just open up a video chat—a Google Meet, a Zoom meeting, a Skype video call, Facetime, whatever—without an agenda. Just go about your normal business together. Don’t feel like you have to talk. Imagine you’re in the office together, sitting at two adjacent desks. Just be present for one another for an hour or two. Conversations will happen, but they don’t have to. There’s something meaningful about spending that time together, and it’s made a huge difference in my working-from-home life.
It also makes it possible to share time together while not working. Virtual cocktail parties via Zoom anyone?
Steward that gift by adding in some time to reconnect with old colleagues, family, and friends. Moments like these remind us how important human life truly is. Thinking back on other times that we had a crisis—like 9/11 or the 2008 economic crash—we all banded together and came out on the other side, together. So togetherness should be top priority and with the technology we have today, we can be virtually with those we care about in an instant.
You can always reach out to colleagues for some levity, but consider starting a text chat with a friend or a friend group. Regular messages throughout the day make you feel connected and can deepen friendships.
Just be sure that if you’re screen-sharing, you turn off onscreen notifications—especially if you’re texting with friends who use off-color language or topics.
Step away from your desk and your work regularly. Chat with family members. Play with your animal for 10–20 minutes. You’ll be recharged in no time.
Remote working comes with context. Whether you’re working in a coffee shop, co-working space, or from home, we all juggle multiple priorities at the Edge Effect of work and life. If a child happens to peak his head into a video chat window or your bird chirps incessantly in the other room, or the barista is steaming milk during a critical moment during a client call, these activities can actually be opportunities to break down formalities, shrug and smile, and remind us that we’re all human after all.
For personal connections, I am checking in regularly with updates—sharing photos, OMGs, and otherwise trying to maintain ongoing conversation. Use video. And set meeting / meet-up times.