Spring has, true to form, come in like a lion, especially on the East Coast! Especially when spring begins feeling so much like the chilly winter months, many of us find ourselves stuck in hibernation mode and slow to get back into the swing of things: staying indoors, being less active, and keeping more to ourselves. For many, the winter months’ impact on our ability to get out, see others, and stay engaged, can perpetuate feelings of loneliness and lack of connection. While spring’s gift of warmer temperatures and growing daylight makes it exponentially easier to get outside and reconnect with everybody from old friends to new coworkers, there are some simple steps any one of us—employers and employees, both remote and in-office—can put into practice all year long to stay better connected and less lonely. A recent piece on relieving loneliness in work culture aptly describes these tools for maintaining healthy connection and socially positivity no matter the season:
- Take advantage of digital social tools to strengthen relationships.
“Sitting alone in front of a screen all day may be the root of isolation, but that’s also where you find some of the most powerful tools to bring people together” says author and founder of Acceleration Partners, Matt Wool. Leverage social tools so that remote employees can communicate regularly, confer support, and publicly share positive thoughts and congratulations with each other as individuals. When employees feel seen and known, there’s no place for loneliness. A bonus to this is that the act itself of encouraging and praising forges connection: “Letting someone else know that you value them is a great bonding experience. This helps keep the virtual high-fives going, as it motivates employees to pay it forward.”
- Prioritize communication via video
Using video chats and meetings frequently offers numerous benefits that combat loneliness and foster connectedness. We communicate a lot through body language and vocal inflection, which is made possible face-to-face conversations done via video, allowing employees to avoid the “disconnectedness caused by miscommunication, which can damage working relationships and increase feelings of isolation.” On top of that, feeling fully present in video meetings increases employees’ and employers’ engagement and makes it possible everyone to benefit from a feeling of team coherence and unity.
- Support in-person connection
For remote workers, this might look like “hiring hubs” which enable employees working in a given geographical area “to meet if they want to collaborate or just interact socially with their colleagues,” but this idea applies to in-office employers and employees as well. Don’t think that just because workers sit by each other in cubicles that they feel connected—fostering meaningful interaction that allows employees to work together productively in person and also get connected socially will decrease isolation and boost your work culture’s social positivity.
- Hire the right talent
Use unbiased tools that help you assess and hire people who are good candidates for your company’s work culture, whether you employ remote workers or not. When employees have clear expectations of the degree of interaction, pace of work, and other dynamics of the work environment, and you’re mutually agreed they’re a good fit, your workforce is poised to be engaged, collaborative, and productive, no matter whether they’re sitting in a cubicle or working in their remote home office.
Appreciating the spring season’s natural affinity for positivity and connectedness, it’s important to remember that humans need personal connection and meaningful interaction all year long. Thankfully, as remote workers and employers, we have practical steps that help each other stay resilient and engaged, combating isolation and fostering connectedness all year long.