I have awesome co-workers. And I miss them a lot. I remember days sitting in my car, unable to muster strength to go inside to start the day because I was stressed or sad.  But then, just a couple of hours later I would be sitting in Cube Corner (a community area in our office where we gather with our laptops to work) and laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe.

COVID-19 took it all away from me: the unexpected laughter, the spontaneous brainstorming, the creative energy I gained from just being in close proximity to smart people.

Now that so many people are working remotely, there’s a good chance many employees in your organization are feeling as disconnected as I am. But there’s good news! If you have responsibility for internal communication, here are three ways you can help:

Dedicate space on social channels for connection and fun

 

At Davis & Company, we use Yammer for brainstorming, schedule updates and client news. Recently, we created a new Yammer group called “Fun,” where we share personal stories, pictures and updates from our lives.

One of my favorite Yammer fun activities was a baby picture photo contest, where we submitted baby pictures and had to guess our colleagues from their baby photos. Aren’t we adorable? 

 

 

If you manage your social channel, you can also find ways to carve out time and space for fun. Have leaders get the party started with their own posts, so employees know this non-work activity is encouraged.

Facilitate social events

 

My colleagues and I get together weekly for a Zoom Happy Hour. Sometimes the gatherings have fun themes (“Glamour and Grunge” brought out some great outfits), and sometimes we just get together and talk. We recently hosted a trivia event and used the breakout room feature on Zoom to form teams. The competition was fierce! (Do you know how many words are in Moby Dick?)

You can create these events yourself or help leaders and managers throughout your organization put them together. Keep them optional so employees don’t feel like you are forcing social interaction on them. The goal is just to create a venue for colleagues to laugh together like they used to in the office.

Carve out time during meetings for casual conversations

 

Every time I get together with my direct reports, I make sure to ask about how life is going for them outside of work. Our team meeting agendas always include time for catching up. When my boss meets with me about work projects, we also inevitably find time to chat about our families, weekend adventures and funny online purchases.

Creating an agenda for the upcoming town hall? Working with a leader who is hosting regular team gatherings? Build time during these meetings for personal and casual conversations. You don’t need to force anyone to confess personal secrets to a stranger. Instead think about it as giving colleagues who haven’t seen each other a little bit of time to catch up.

While communication channels can help facilitate connection among colleagues, there is no substitute for personal interactions. If you miss your co-workers, reach out and let them know. I bet they miss you too and will be excited to catch up!

 

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