Work-from-home has its own perks. Flexible working hours, no commute stress, working from the comfort of the couch, and monetary savings. However, it also has downsides—leading to an increased sense of isolation and burnout. Yes, burnout while working from home is possible, and so is the feeling of loneliness and isolation, owing to the lack of social interaction. Working remotely can be more difficult for those who are starting a new job from home. Naturally, the road to nurturing a relationship with your co-workers would be a tough one, given the fact that you have never met or interacted with them before.
Whether you are an old employee or starting a new job from home, your co-workers have a huge influence on your outlook towards your work, productivity, and performance. After all, it’s the impromptu chats, lunch breaks, and informal catch-ups that lay the foundation for healthy work culture.
Clocking tedious hours behind computer screens while trying to meet deadlines is no fun when you don’t have colleagues to physically interact and engage with. This lack of engagement and interactivity can severely impact your job satisfaction and wellbeing. According to research conducted by psychologist Dr Martin Boult, “Relationships with co-workers matter most for wellbeing at work.” In simpler words, what you do in your professional space plays a major role in impacting your wellbeing and satisfaction at work. Another study by LinkedIn reveals that “46 percent of professionals worldwide believe that work friends are important to their overall happiness.”
The pandemic, however, has changed the way we work. Now, most of us work remotely, which leaves little or no room for social interaction and engagement with colleagues. For new employees, connecting with their co-workers is even more difficult. This begs an important question—if you’re new to your job, are impersonal team meetings and emails the only way to foster a sense of personal connection with the team? The answer, fortunately, is a no.
Here are a few fun ways to bond with your co-workers while starting a new job from home.
Participate in team rituals
Although the culture of working from home has existed before the pandemic, it became the new normal overnight. Today, it has been over a year—for many—of working remotely, but it’s safe to say that the memories of working with colleagues-turned-friends under one roof are still fresh. However, the situation is more tricky for those who have started a new job from home, and haven’t met their colleagues even once.
So, how do you go about building that same camaraderie with your new teammates, if you haven’t even met them? One of the best ways to step beyond the scope of formal communication is to know about team rituals and participate in them. They can be as simple as weekly virtual board games, or friendly team competitions to keep the spirits high. This is the time when colleagues turn into friends. And team rituals can be your opportunity to mingle with your new colleagues and know them on a more personal level.
Engage in video calls
At workplaces, bumping into colleagues creates the opportunity for casual interactions. But when you’re at home, spending hours behind your computer alone, maintaining the same camaraderie can become a challenge. So, how do you escape this sense of isolation and loneliness while not letting it affect your wellbeing? The answer can be better explained through a scenario. Imagine you’re sitting next to your colleague, the only difference being they are on the other side of your screen.
Carving out time for video calls is an effective way to build a bond with your colleagues. If you are new to a place, start with a co-worker with whom you interact regularly. With time, once you start interacting with more people, do a video call once in a while, where everyone can see each other and share some laughs.
Stay updated and connected
What’s the first thing you do when you step inside your workplace? You fire up your computer and immediately get to work, right? Wrong. You briefly catch up with your colleagues over a cup of coffee before kick-starting the day. Now, since the former is not an option anymore, a virtual check-in with your teammates should suffice. Every morning, or any other time of the day, host an informal meet with your colleagues to discuss topics not related to the ongoing tasks. This way, you can stay updated and connected with everyone on your team.
Host virtual coffee breaks
Hosting weekly virtual coffee breaks is a great way to replace the proverbial ‘water cooler chats.’ At workplaces, it’s a spontaneous habit to stop by your colleague’s desk to see if they want to step away for a short tea or coffee break. But when you’re working from home, there’s no scope for such impromptu interactions. In fact, making time for such informal mingling becomes conscious and deliberate, and often gets pushed aside due to work. Therefore, hosting a virtual coffee break is an excellent way to make up for that. An informal conversation with a colleague over coffee, albeit in a virtual lounge, can help break the monotony of work and also encourage socialising.
Connect on other social media platforms
Working from home can deprive you of the opportunity to know your colleagues better. Virtual interactions can compensate for this, but you can’t build a bond with a co-worker if all you do is talk about work. This is where social media comes in. Since it’s accessible to anyone at any given time and place, you can use social media platforms to interact with your co-workers after work and know them more intimately. Contrary to popular belief, connecting with your teammates on social media can enhance interpersonal relationships, and help you discover things about them that you weren’t aware of. Who knows you might even stumble upon some common interests too.