Embrace the Team “co-working” technology:
Technology can be a fun way to connect. Don’t just rely on communication platforms like Slack, Yammer, Teams or WhatsApp. Shake it up with group video and audio tools like Discord, Riot and more. Some teams keep Houseparty, Skype or Zoom open all day for the casual and random interaction. Gamers and teens have been social in these ways for years and it only makes sense to try it out.
Not just the “boring“ stuff
If you are using a communication platform, make sure to have channels, threads or spaces for the fun, social stuff too. One team I know takes turns posting things like recipes, jokes and music playlists. There are book clubs happening that just meet virtually now, and another group uses Teleparty (the old Netflix party) to watch shows and documentaries together for fun and to learn.
And for those who aren’t sick of it, virtual quiz and pub nights and the like can all be done using some of the great tools like QuizUp, Kahoot, and more. I have found many people can actually be more open and relaxed during these virtual sessions so getting to know your team may be easier.
Bringing back the Personal
One of the biggest benefits of remote and flexible working is the chance to not only develop but nurture your own personal relationships in ways that long commutes and limited time at home hurt. You can go have coffee with a friend in your town or, if you are a digital nomad, visit with friends worldwide. Connect with those you have met online now in real life with more flexibility in location and time. I personally now can see friends who are also busy parents for a midday coffee meetup in the park whereas before, it would have been almost impossible. You can volunteer more (or maybe now at times that opens up your options) and even make your personal visits more purposeful when they aren’t being cut short due to the dreaded commute or not squished in between some meetings.
Expand your Professional
Meeting people these days isn’t always easy but LinkedIn, Reddit, Meetup & more are offering remote workers more options to connect, chat and learn from each other. There are groups/apps like InterNations for expats to connect and support each other and you can now attend pretty much any networking event virtually. Bonus is when it’s on Zoom, you can avoid the person pitching their company a little too aggressively over the canapés. Join these groups, attend the virtual sessions and then plan to connect 1:1 in real life as your lives allow. Virtual isn’t the same as face to face but it can be a great way to connect with more people quickly and then focus on those who you want to connect with more meaningfully.
Working remotely also means you can change up your workspace as often as you want. I don’t mean moving the desk in your home to another corner (although that can be fun too, I guess) but rather go to co-working spaces nearby or even across the world. You can meet new people working from pop-up workspaces, explore local coffee shops (check out spaces like WorkFrom for suggestions of good ones). There are even startups matching remote workers and cool spots like restaurants and more (check out Workclub, AndCo and DropDesk as some examples). Even the old standbys like Regus and WeWork will suit some remote workers well. When you visit places like these, don’t be afraid to be social and say hi but always respect the international signal for “please leave me alone” if they have earbuds/phones in.