ADVICE

How to keep connected at work

How to keep connected at work

A team that works well together is more effective, more productive and more successful — not to mention happier and more fun to work with!

While we hope that staff have come back from the Christmas break feeling rested and more resilient, it’s quite reasonable that many may still be feeling disconnected after a challenging year and could use a pick-me-up; something that will provide a little more stimulation than your average bit of gossip or the occasional office birthday cake.

Your Challenge: Reconnect with your teammates.

Here are some simple ways that you can bond better with the people you work with, and be a leader in creating a positive workplace culture:

Be friendly That seems obvious, right? it’s very easy to get caught up in work and walk around on your daily missions without paying much attention your surroundings, including other people. Whether it’s in a hallway, an elevator, or you happen to notice someone you’ve never talked to at work, just say ‘hi’ and introduce yourself.

Team bonding tip: Remember to smile! Many of us don’t realise how stern, or even grumpy, we may look while going about our daily business, or if we’re focused. Take a moment to consciously smile before saying ‘hi’ to someone. It makes a big difference.

Take advantage of lunch Are you the person who eats lunch at their desk or maybe heads somewhere quiet with a book? There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s your time and you are entitled to it. But, if you want to help build team morale and increase your own sense of connectedness with your colleagues, it’s a good idea to occasionally put yourself out there during that midday meal.

Start by stepping away from your desk and taking your lunch to the common break room. If there are already people there, avoid the temptation to grab a seat in the corner. Ask someone if you can sit with them and strike up a conversation. Or, invite someone to join you as they come into the lunchroom. Even if you already know these people, it is a good opportunity to talk in a less formal capacity.

Team bonding tip: Read the signs. If you head to the lunchroom and someone is sitting at a table with their nose in a book, that’s probably their private time. If you sit next to someone and start to chat, read their response. You’ll know quickly if they welcome the conversation or not.

Welcome newcomers New co-workers are typically excited to meet others and get some guidance. It may take nothing more than telling them which floor has the best coffee, what quirks the copy machine has, or where the local lunch-spots are.

While your new colleague may be new to your office, remember that they also have valuable experience. That’s why they got hired, right? Be sure to ask them about their background. You may discover common interests, or that your new colleague has expertise in an area you really want to learn more about.

Team bonding tip: Try to think of a couple of simple, but helpful, tips to give the new person when you meet. Keep it useful, like handy parking tips or great coffee spots. Let them know that you’re open to questions, should they have any. Don’t speak negatively about any other co-workers.

Pay attention to office invites Most workplaces promote various events throughout the year, or put out invitations to be on a volunteer committee, or something along those lines. If you really want to meet people in your workplace and connect with them, choose to accept some of the invites that come through.

Why? It may be an opportunity to attend something in a completely different department where you don’t know a lot of people. If it’s volunteering, it may be a chance to show off skills that you don’t use in your daily job, such organising a catered event.

Team bonding tip: Want to dial it up a notch? Think about the volunteering and charity events that your office would be interested in participating in. Suggest one that you are familiar with and offer to head up the effort. You’ll have to recruit some new people (making new connections) while coming across as a helpful person and a leader.

Note Looking for some ideas of fun ways to bond with your teammates? Talk to your wellbeing lead, to whom we’ve given some suggestions and ideas. They might not have time to run them, and this is where you could take the lead.

Avoid complaining about work Unless you’re all sitting around releasing tension about the stress you all experience at work, it’s best if you don’t bring up negative things about the workplace.

You might be stressed but it’s not helpful to unload all your frustrations on your co-workers. There are different strategies for handling stress that are more positive and effective. After all, you’re all working for the same company. Even if you don’t really like the way things are done, some of your co-workers may have different opinions.

Team bonding tip: Having an attitude of gratitude and a focus on the good things your workplace does to support you is an easy way to improve your mood and boost your overall wellbeing, all while promoting a positive team culture.

How to connect with your colleagues who work from home

Thanks to COVID, remote working is a new reality for many of us. While this may offer us more flexibility, get rid of the annoying daily commute and increase quality time spent at home with our families, it can result in feeling disconnected from work and colleagues. Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2019 found that 19 per cent of remote workers report loneliness as their biggest work struggle. And, if you’re used to working in an office most of the time, the problem might be exacerbated. Here are a few ideas you can champion in your workplace:

Check in on your co-workers Working from home means you won’t randomly pass by your co-worker’s desk or bump into them in the kitchen, so you’ll need to intentionally reach out to see how they’re doing. You don’t need a work reason to check in. While you don’t want to overdo it, a once-in-a-while ‘hey, how are you doing?’ may help you and your colleagues feel less alone. Knowing someone out there cares about how you’re doing – not just your work product – can make all the difference.

Give recognition and praise Positive communication helps us feel more connected and engaged. So, be explicit about recognising your colleagues – thank them publicly and in detail for their work.

Create dedicated social spaces Bring everyone together in Google Hangout, Teams or Zoom for the sole purpose of hanging out and catching up! Virtual happy hours, team lunches or employee-led yoga classes are a great way to create opportunities for meaningful. Have fun with it and try coming up with ways to get together – here are a couple of ideas:

  • You could play ‘guess this baby’ – trying to match baby pictures with your teammates or your senior leadership team
  • Arrange a remote lunch-and-learn, where co-workers share their hobbies, passions and learnings online
  • Do you have someone in your office who’s a yoga teacher or practises meditation? They could lead a remote yoga class.
First published: Feb 2021

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