How to Stay Connected When You Work from Home
COVID-19 has changed a lot of things, and one of the hardest parts of the pandemic is the lack of socialization. For many people, offices are where they connect with others. But because of coronavirus, chances are you’re no longer in the office. You can’t grab a coffee with a colleague, take a lunch-time yoga break with your fellow interns, or get to know your manager over lunch in the cafeteria.
Still, we’re here with some good news: While you can’t see your colleagues in person, you can still get your daily dose of human connection. A remote internship is your opportunity to grow your network and expand your skills, and you can still do that, even if you’re working from home.
Start the day with coffee.
In many offices, people use their morning coffee as an excuse to catch up and ease into the day. If your company doesn’t have one already, suggest scheduling a daily video call to kick off the work day, check in, and chat. If the work usually starts at 8:00, you can schedule it from 7:50–8:00 am. Invite the whole office, and encourage people to join whenever they feel like it. It will provide a sense of normalcy, and a good excuse for unstructured, casual conversation as everyone wakes up.
Try a virtual happy hour.
Drinks after a long day of work are a time-honored tradition (and if you’re under 21, ginger ale is just as good!). Happy hour is where coworkers become friends. Scheduling virtual happy hours every couple of weeks is almost as good as sitting down at a bar or restaurant together. This is also a great opportunity to connect with different departments and groups at work. You can have an all-intern happy hour, a casual chat with a mentor, or an all-hands get together.
Work it out.
Sitting at a desk all day isn’t good for you, whether you’re in a work office or a home office. With no commute and no on-site gym, everyone is getting pretty antsy these days. A great way to foster community and get the blood pumping? Group exercise classes! If your company has the resources, ask if they could sponsor virtual yoga or Pilates classes. If not, consider finding a free class on YouTube and encouraging others to join you. Working out with colleagues will improve both your physical and mental wellbeing.
Don’t forget to chat.
You don’t need to schedule video calls to bond with your coworkers. Most companies have started using instant messaging platforms to keep people connected. The more you use it, the more natural it will feel. Say hi to your fellow interns, post in designated channels can, and send direct messages. Many companies have fun, random channels to encourage casual conversation. Post photos of your dog in #doglife or your favorite websites in #distractions. You can also start text message threads with different groups of people.
Start a book club, issue a monthly baking challenge, or play the latest video game. By sharing in the same experience, you can feel close to people even when you’re far apart. Then, star a chat channel solely devoted to your shared creative experiences. It will be a nice break from work—and coronavirus—talk.
Consider keeping the video chat on.
If you’re really feeling lonely, consider keeping a video chat on even when you’re not talking. You can type away with other people in silence, glancing up every 10 minutes to see a fellow human being. If you have a question, you can just ask it. This can be a lot for some, but for others, it’s a great way to recreate the office environment.