How to stay connected with colleagues during lockdown

With further lockdowns facing much of Europe, here’s how to maintain your relationships and protect your mental health while working remotely

With further lockdowns facing many European professionals, we’re reminded once again that work isn’t always just about work – it’s about social interactions, too. During the UK’s first lockdown earlier this year, 40% of workers said their colleagues were what they missed most about office life, with 41% saying they missed office jokes and light-hearted chit chat.

Furthermore, isolation, the inability to unplug and the difficulties of collaboration are just some of the challenges that have been reported by remote workers. And, with this way of working thrust upon many of us once again, it’s important to take steps to reduce the risks to our mental health. Below, we ask remote working experts to share their tips for getting through and thriving during this period of uncertainty.

Foster a sense of team spirit
“Book in daily team calls that mimic the well-known ‘stand-up’-style meetings, where everyone says what they have on for the day and voices any concerns,” says remote working expert, Chris Griffiths. “Doing this maintains a sense of team spirit and provides the perfect space for employees to talk about their thoughts and feelings for improved wellbeing.”

Make time for breaks
“Make sure you have social chats with colleagues if you can,” says flexible working advocate Anna Whitehouse. “According to Durham University research, isolation is not good for the working mind. We still need water cooler chats, otherwise communication breaks down on bigger projects.”

Speak one-to-one
“If you’re a team leader, you can mitigate your employees feeling lonely and isolated by having more regular one-to-one meetings,” says Kevin Green, HR expert and author of Competitive People Strategy. “Your team doesn’t know how busy you are, so an ignored email can be viewed as no one listening or lead to them feeling undervalued and unimportant.

Ask your team to ‘check in’ each day with a score from one to five – with one representing ‘I’m not feeling great’ to five meaning ‘This is a great day’. Quickly follow up with anyone who scored themselves one or two to find out how you can help. You may be able to seek additional support for them if they are struggling. Even if you can’t help solving their problem, you can still listen and be empathetic.”

Have a digital post-work drink
“Simply try to interact as close to usual as best you can,” says Andy Salkeld, author of Life is a Four-Letter Word: A Mental Health Survival Guide for Professionals. “Video calls don’t have to just be for work. They can be for having a 15-minute coffee, sharing lunch, dinner or even an after-work drink. You can keep all your social interactions going – they just look slightly different now.”

Looking for more tips on making the most of working from home? Read the latest articles in Spaces magazine

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