When it was announced last Friday that Leap Group would work from home, I was relieved. Like many, the rapid spread of COVID-19 has me very nervous, and I wanted to do my small part to #flattenthecurve by self-isolating. Also, as a proud, self-proclaimed introvert, I was looking forward to having heads-down, distraction-free work time. I had big dreams of clearing my backlog, putting together an ongoing business proposal or two, maybe even seeing what’s up on LinkedIn.
However, as Day 2 of my WFH life turns to twilight, I’ll be honest with you — working alone is more difficult than I expected.
Though my home workspace is pleasant and my new officemate, Angus, greets me with a tail wag, being away from my team is hard. If you’re feeling the out-of-office blues like me, here are nine tips to help connect with your colleagues during self-isolation:
On conference calls, encourage everyone to turn on their webcams. So much of communication is non-verbal and seeing body-language and facial expressions will help people feel better connected. Also, it’s like a tiny version of MTV cribs because you get to catch glimpses of your teammates’ homes. Does your boss have cheesy, inspirational posters in their home office? The people want to know!
Invite your colleagues to a social-distancing-approved yoga or meditation session and use Gaze to watch the same video together. Check out this lunch break yoga video from Yoga with Adriene or this 5-minute meditation from The Honest Guys.
Digital Happy Hour.
Schedule a happy hour where everyone can videoconference together with a beverage of their choice and acknowledge highlights from the week. Celebrate a colleague for their awesome work or share how happy a client was with their new logo.
Virtual Lunch + Learn.
Is your designer a fantastic home-chef? Your developer a dog-training whiz? Or your project manager an award-winning knitter? Organize a virtual lunch and learn where the presenter shares a cool project they’ve been working on or teaches the group a new skill.
Create the Same Space you would in the Office.
Boundaries and balance are critical in maintaining relationships, especially with your coworkers. While your existing tech can be used to better connect, it can also help create space when you need it. Set your status to away if you’re going to walk your dog over lunch or you need an hour to focus on preparing a deck. You’ll get the message once you’re back, and your colleague will know that you’re not just screening their chats.
Take a Break.
Set a reminder to take a break! It’s easy to start working earlier and keep working later without a commute. Set an alarm to remind yourself to step away for a few minutes. The Pomodoro technique helps to break up the day into more manageable chunks.
Like, Really Take a Break.
When you take a break, really take a break. Get some fresh air, move your body or practice meditation. If you need some help with meditating, try this guided mindfulness exercise by Tara Brach from Insight Timer. I use this app every day, and I love it because you can filter the practices by the type of meditation, the tradition, the benefit and even if the session has background music — all to fit your needs or mood.
Check On Your Teammates!
Even small gestures can make great impacts. Follow-up with that coworker who looked a little down in your team meeting. Lend a hand to your frazzled teammate juggling client requests. Give someone a virtual pat on the back for a job well done.
Though this is a stressful time, we will be stronger for the personal investments we make in each other — both at work and in our community.