As we settle into life after the COVID-19 lockdown, social distancing has become part of our daily routines, influencing every decision we make throughout the day. Across the world, home offices are being perfected and new schedules adjusted to as people create new working lifestyles from the ashes of the old.
In this new remote-working world, a virtual office will give you all the benefits of a physical office, without the city crowds and expensive lease; and a ten-step commute to your home office is far better than an hour-long battle with traffic. However, social isolation is a slow-creeping danger that can negatively impact your mental health. It can be easy to slip into your own little bubble of personal productivity, but if you stay there too long, you risk losing the support and inspiration offered by friends, family, colleagues, mentors, and leaders.
With this in mind, now is the perfect time to explore ways to remain connected, stimulated, and motivated, despite the lack of physical proximity.
Maintain a strong connection with colleagues
One of the best ways to keep team spirit alive in a remote workforce is to schedule regular morning meetings. These give everyone a clear transition from home life to office life but in a fun and social way. A quick and cheerful 15-minute meeting is ideal, covering any important updates and allowing each person to fill the team in on their achievements from the day before and their goals for the day to come.
In addition to this short daily meeting, it’s worth considering a group chat to keep the team connected throughout the day. Lunch hour or coffee break catch-ups via video chat and home-based digital happy hours are also a fun way to keep the team vibe alive. You may even wish to create monthly challenges as a bit of healthy competition is known to build trust and boost productivity.
Keep your client and stakeholder connections healthy while working from home
Take some time to go through your external contacts and note down how often you used to connect with them. Use your preferred scheduling tool to create reminders to check in with them in a way that matches what they were used to pre-pandemic. Fill them in on any changes in the business that may affect them, give them space to ask questions or raise concerns, and ask how they’re doing. In addition to keeping your client and stakeholder connection strong, these regular little catch-ups may lead to some interesting new opportunities.
Get comfortable with digital communication tools
For most time-strapped workers, email is the preferred communication tool. However, in a socially distanced world, it can be worth your while to shift video calls and phone calls to the top of your list. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much your workdays improve when you get to see people more often and use your voice to communicate. The effect will be especially powerful if you live and work alone. As a happy side-effect, you usually get the information you need faster when you call people as opposed to emailing and waiting for a response.
Stay connected with far-flung friends and family members
Though your work contacts are central to your success, it’s just as important to ensure you’re staying connected with your loved ones. Life can get stiflingly insular when it’s condensed down to your home, the supermarket, and the local park. Take some time each week to chat with friends online, and set up regular video chats with those closest to you. This may involve some jaw-clenching moments as you struggle to help digitally-illiterate family members understand Skype or Zoom. However, you’ll be opening the world back up for them, so it will all be worth it in the end.
Prioritise your mental health and wellness
Staying connected during isolation is critical, not just for your productivity, but for your mental health. Social isolation is a known contributor to depression, and with the extra pressures created by the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to take good care of yourself, your clients, your family, friends, and colleagues.
The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on everyone. However, you can ease the pressure for yourself and those you care about by staying connected while working from home. Make an effort to reach out to people, for your sake and theirs. Most importantly, if you feel you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. If you’re not sure where to turn, there are online resources that can help you with any mental health concerns you may have.