I love working away from home, but I feel more isolated than ever. How can I get along with my workmates? My company switched to a long-distance operation during the epidemic, and no one was rushing to return to the office soon. This means I start working at home for a while, but my friends are leaving and new people are starting to get away, how can I reach them, or stay close to my co-workers?
You may think that the hardest part about starting a career — or even working — working away from home during the global epidemic is figuring out how to work better with your friends away from conference rooms and improve what, let’s face it, no one really cares. But what I miss most is the anonymous communication: the smiles and fury of my office; people passing by my desk say “hi”; it’s a friendly feeling that makes the trip a little worthwhile. Sounds like you need it too.
Preparation is easy. Yes, it is easy to write, it is not difficult to do. I resumed work (which I have here, actually, here at WIRED) during my illness, and the first steps were difficult, but I am happy to say that I have made more friends this year than I had ever imagined.
As long as we work remotely behind the screens, it will be difficult that every one of us may feel connected to each other. It is true if you have started working away from everyone far away and you have never had the opportunity to meet anyone face-to-face, or you have been for many years and your colleagues here have left new gigs. The only way to find out is to do something that everyone hates: isolate yourself and talk to people.
Ask them to start a video chat with you so they can talk about what you are doing and what they like. Think of real coffee, or any beverage after work. (Or ice cream, for people who do not drink. My friend Karen Ho, a regular journalist at Inside, he taught me that!) Make plans to spend time together after a big project, for example. And follow! Save 15 coffee break time on their calendar so no one will forget it, and be prepared to move in if you (or they) don’t feel it today.
Not everything needs to come as a calendar. Join the thread in Slack or Discord if someone says funny things. Your friend is sharing cats in Slack, share your favorite photos. Any company (trust me, any company) contains Slack jokes, memes, jokes, or just gossip and gossip. Sign in and share! It may sound awkward at first, but the more you do, the more people will listen to you and feel better about what your friends are doing and what they are not. Follow your co-workers on Twitter or Instagram or TikTok (if you feel safe doing so) and interact with them, calmly, letting them know you appreciate their presence. Involve them on a personal level, not a co-worker-attempt-communication.
I know, open up a bit and talk to people? Extras. I wish there was a simple answer, which allows me to sit on my ass and allow respect and certainty to come to me without being in danger or stumbling over a complaint. But a) we don’t always get what we want, and b) you are asking a question that most of us find difficult to answer even in the best of times, “public instability” before even a thing.