Battling Isolation as a Remote Employee to Stay Happy at Work

Battling Isolation as a Remote Employee to Stay Happy at Work

Remote Employee to Stay Happy at Work – The rise of remote work has provided amazing flexibility and benefits for many employees. No longer constrained by geography or a lengthy commute, remote workers can often achieve better work-life balance. However, working from home also poses some unique challenges – especially when it comes to combating isolation.

As humans, we crave social connection. When working in an office, social bonds form naturally through daily interactions, meetings, and chatter around the water cooler. But for remote employees, those organic social opportunities are lost. Lack of face-to-face interaction with co-workers can lead to feelings of loneliness over time. For remote workers, isolation is one of the biggest pitfalls that can severely impact job satisfaction and happiness at work.

If you find yourself struggling with isolation as a remote employee, don’t despair. With some focused effort, there are many effective ways to foster meaningful connections and stay engaged while working remotely.

To stay happy and engaged in your work, proactively nurture meaningful connections with colleagues through video calls, virtual hangouts, and in-person events when possible.

Here are some pro tips for battling isolation and staying happy in your at-home workspace:

Schedule Regular Video Calls

While instant messaging is efficient, it lacks the personal touch of face-to-face conversation. Make an effort to supplement Slack or email with regular video conferences. Seeing your colleagues’ facial expressions and body language nurtures stronger interpersonal bonds. Set up recurring video check-ins, virtual water cooler conversations, or weekly team meetings. Video calls facilitate more social nuance and rapport than simple chat messages.

Invest in Water Cooler Talk

Don’t underestimate the value of casual social conversations at work. Water cooler talk might seem trivial, but it enables personal connections and rapport between co-workers. Recreate this socially by scheduling video calls solely for non-work banter. Maintain open channels in messaging apps like Slack that are dedicated to fun chatter about pets, hobbies, pop culture, or weekend plans. Social communities form when co-workers show interest in each other’s lives.

Create Virtual Hangouts

Organize video hangouts that mimic fun in-office social activities. Set up a virtual pizza party, happy hour, game night, or coffee chat. Services like Remo allow customizing fun spaces for avatar gatherings. Send everyone a delivery food gift card to enjoy during the hangout. Or have a work trivia night over video conference. Getting co-workers together in a casual context strengthens social bonds that combat isolation.

Attend In-Person Events

While remote work means less time in a shared office, make an effort to connect in-person when possible. If your company hosts meetings, training sessions, or conferences in a physical location, join in-person rather than virtually if geography allows. The opportunity for face time and hallway chats during events can satisfy the need for personal interaction.

Schedule Small Talk with Colleagues

Don’t assume your co-workers are too busy for non-work related conversation. Many remote employees crave more personal chats. Initiate water cooler small talk by DMing a colleague just to catch up. Ask how their weekend was, discuss shared interests, or tell them about something funny your pet did. Taking a few minutes to chat makes co-workers feel seen.

Share Personal Insights and Photos

Enable colleagues to get to know you better by occasionally sharing fun personal tidbits, photos, or insights into your remote workday. Post pet cameos during meetings, show off your homemade bread creations or share your workspace view. Collectively gaining insight into each other’s personal lives and environments helps create a sense of virtual community.

Collaborate in Real Time

Maximize use of collaboration tools that allow working simultaneously with team members in real-time. Google Docs, Miro, Figma, and GitHub enable co-workers to collaborate on projects together in an organic way. This facilitates natural banter and bonding similar to in-office dynamics. Set up video conferencing over coffee to co-work quietly on individual tasks together.

Explore Virtual Water Coolers

Some innovative startups are creating virtual spaces that recreate the experience of office small talk, buzz, and serendipitous connection. Platforms like Shindig, Gather, and Tandem provide digital environments for random hallway-style interactions between remote workers globally. Pop in during a work break for refreshing social interaction.

Prioritize In-Person Team Gatherings

If possible given the geographical spread, have in-person team get-togethers periodically. Even if a team is fully remote, consider an annual on-site meeting. Getting quality face-to-face time, meals together, and informal bonding opportunities will strengthen social cohesion. This sustains team positivity better than 100% virtual interaction long-term.

Find Your Work Tribe

Within a larger company, identify a few co-workers you resonate most with to be your go-to social circle. Set up recurring video coffees, message each other funny memes, celebrate birthdays, and be supportive sounding boards. Having even a small work tribe creates a sense of belonging amidst the isolation of remote work.

Join External Communities

Don’t limit your social circle only to colleagues. Seek out external communities related to your profession or personal interests that provide human connection. Join relevant Slack channels, forums, masterminds, or local meet-ups to interact with like-minded professionals. External social bonds complement your workplace relationships.

Prioritize Quality Office Time

If you have the flexibility to work partially in a shared office space, take advantage of it. Even just one or two days a week in an office alongside other people can provide social nourishment. Make time for open discussions, collaborative work sessions, or lunch with office-based colleagues.

Set Communication Expectations

To combat isolation, ensure managers set clear expectations around communication cadence. Make sure teams normalize frequent social check-ins and video chats. Establish the importance of relationship-building within digital workflows. Managers should model and encourage social connectivity. No employee should feel reluctant to take time for rapport-building.

Track Interactions

Use tools to quantitatively track and set goals for social interactions. Apps like Donut randomly pair remote workers for meets. Other tools like Hive or Watercooler allow inputting and tracking social connections. Purposefully increasing contact quantity will likely improve qualitative social satisfaction over time.

Address Isolation Early

If you start to feel the symptoms of isolation – lack of motivation, sadness, fatigue – address it promptly. Don’t wait for it to severely impact your happiness and work output. Speak up about what you need to your manager or HR. Changing social cadence, interactions, or workload before isolation worsens can get you back on track.

Conclusion – Remote Employee to Stay Happy at Work

While working remotely surely has perks, putting effort into combating potential isolation will pay dividends for your mood and job outlook. Don’t underestimate the positive impact of social connections. By being proactive about relationship-building and avoiding alienation from colleagues, remote employees can thrive and stay engaged.

You can continue to read this article for remote work best practices.


About the author

Ram Amancha is an accomplished professional with extensive experience in leadership and productivity enhancement. With a track record of successfully managing teams consisting of hundreds of members, Ram Amancha has consistently guided and mentored individuals to achieve exceptional results.

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