As more workers return to the office, one thing is certain: the way workplaces around the world operate will never be exactly the same as before the pandemic.
Whether workplaces adopt hybrid schedules, allow workers to be fully remote, or require all employees in the office every day, the value of digital tools to conduct business remotely has proven to work, save time, and eliminate some unnecessary costs.
Of course, one of the biggest arguments against employees working remote forever is that in-person connections in the workplace can be motivating, inspire creativity, and build community.
Whether you like remote work or not, it’s important to learn how to build professional connections in a hybrid work environment. Here are some ways you can do this despite the unpredictability of workplaces of the future.
It’s one thing to say you’re going to connect with your coworkers more, but until you create a goal and a plan to do so, it’s likely work will overwhelm your efforts to build your relationships and network.
Decide how frequently you’d like to make time to connect with your colleagues, whether that’s one-on-one or in a small-group setting. Make a repeating event on your calendar to remind you to reach out and set aside time.
These conversations don’t have to be about work, but they can be. Building relationships with colleagues — and with people generally — requires showing care and interest in each other’s lives. Go for a walk, get coffee, or find a place outside of your office where you can talk.
Even if some of your colleagues are working remotely long-term, make time to catch up. It’s important to reach out to those you don’t see as frequently, to help establish a good community within the workplace. This will not just help you network, but help your business be stronger in the long run.
Looking for a conversation starter? The Muse has a list of 70 questions for your coworkers!
A great way to connect with colleagues and learn new skills is to work with people who do something you’d like to be better at. Perhaps that’s project management, technical writing, or giving a presentation.
Make a list of what you want to learn and start to identify who you can learn it from. Volunteer to help on a project you might not normally work on for the sake of learning. This will show your colleagues you’re interested in their work.
If you’re a manager, consider encouraging your employees to do this, especially by setting aside time for them to join a new project. When employees feel they can grow, they’ll value the company and your leadership.
If you’re a manager or lead a company, consider ways you can help your team step aside from their work once in awhile and have fun together. Perhaps you plan a company picnic at a local park or invite a yoga instructor to do a group session.
These types of moments where employees can relax, connect, and see their colleagues as people rather than just workers, are important in creating a company culture that values the whole lives of their employees.
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