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When you're working remotely (whether you're new to it or not), it can be a challenge to make sure you're staying connected to those around you. Even in this time of social distancing and avoiding being in physical proximity to other people, there are so many ways technology has provided for us to still maintain contact and spend time with other people!
If you're an introvert (like me... or at least I thought I was before I was forced to stay inside 24/7), you might think you don't really need to much human interaction. But whether you want it or not, it's actually pretty healthy to make sure you're spending time staying connected with other people. According to Psychology Today, some of the many benefits include living longer, as well as better physical and mental health. It even helps you to learn better, says Medical News Today.
Aside from the science, we know that being connected with others can improve our mood and make us feel less lonely, something super important in these tough times when we're all feeling a little physically and mentally isolated.
So if you're looking for ways to digitally connect with others while you're working from home, here are a few ideas for you.
1) Join communities on Facebook/Slack/Discord.
Find an online communities where you can ask questions, shoot the breeze, or chat about various aspects of things you're interested in! There are communities for just about everything. Here's a medium article that lists 400 different type of Slack communities, on everything from business, to tech, to marketing, to education, and more. Here's another place where you can search for a community by subject. If you want to find fellow runners, search on Facebook and find a community of other runners who are trying to figure out how to stay fit and keep to their routines while also staying inside.
2) Make time for digital banter.
When I first started working remotely, I started to feel bad sometimes when I would slack a co-worker and ask about how their weekend was, or talk about the latest Bachelor episode. After all, that wasn't work related, and here I am technically at work! But I realized that we don't feel bad doing those things in the office, so why should we feel bad doing them online? Of course, you still need to get your work done, and you can't spend the whole day chatting away, but making time for small talk and other digital banter can help you feel more connected to your co-workers, which is important for collaboration and improving communication and team dynamics. (Aside from the obvious benefit of helping the work day to pass!)
3) Set up virtual coffees on Zoom.
Some of my coworkers and I have set up a weekly virtual coffee date where we all hop on and chat for about 30 minutes on a Thursday afternoon. It's a nice break in the middle of the day for those of us who aren't great at actually taking lunch breaks (or any breaks for that matter), and there's no specific work agenda to discuss, but work topics tend to come up and we are able to debrief things that are happening on our team and also any fears or questions about the future, so we're not feeling alone. It's also helpful as we discover things we're all working on and see if there's any overlap to be able to help each other. It's become a welcome break in our day/week, and it's nice to just pause for a few minutes together and enjoy community.
If you're a freelancer or don't have another team of people you can set up a zoom with, find other friends - post on Instagram or Facebook and see if any of your friends are also feeling like they could use a break in their day to catch up! (If you don't have 30 minutes, start with just 10 or 15 minutes!)
4) Plan fun adventures and projects.
I know the idea of planning just about anything right now feels a little stressful, but I've found some fun in thinking about things I'll do when this is all over. I've got trips to plan! But also in the meantime, I've found people planning creative things to do virtually with other people - like virtual game nights. Attending events like this is great, but you'll find community even while you're planning them! I used Trello to plan a virtual Parks and Rec trivia night, and it was AMAZING. Not only was the event itself fun, we had so much fun leading up to the event by talking and planning together. And using tools like Trello makes it easy for everyone to stay organized even if you're in different places and not physically planning something together.
5) Share your skills with others
Another way to have community while we're all at home is by sharing your skills with others. I've been inspired to spend more time writing about Trello and remote working because I know it's something that's valuable to other people, and it's also been a great way to have conversations with more people! I've also been able to meet up with other marketers and share my expertise on Facebook ads, and on the flip side, I've been able to learn more programming by connecting more with other developers.
It's a great time to write articles or make videos about things you're skilled at and share that with the world. Not only does it help people learn, but it makes you better at your craft, and also helps you connect with more people so everyone can learn and grow.
If you don't have something like this set up at work, set up 30 minutes a week where you meet with someone random at your company and just learn what they do and see if there's any way you can help each other out. My company uses a Slack App that randomly assigns you with other people and you just connect for a bit and learn. It's a great way to stay connected and make the world feel a little smaller.
Hope this gives you some ideas of how to stay connected with others while we're all at home. Comment below if you have other ideas!
Software Engineer + Productivity Enthusiast
Baton Rouge, Lousiana, USA
167 accepted answers