Triggered – it’s how a lot of people are feeling right now. Scrolling through social media, every other post is a report that somebody you know has COVID-19. Again. It feels like déjà vu from late 2020. And this comes on the heels of a brief period of time when it felt like maybe things were returning to normal. Society got a taste of real life again. Travel picked up. Bars and restaurants opened back up. Sports leagues resumed their seasons. It’s hard to give that all up not just once but twice as the pandemic revs its ugly engine again.
Whether you had returned to the office, and are now being sent back home, or you never returned to the office, work-from-home life might be going on longer than expected. And with the omicron variant causing people to stay apart, social isolation threatens our mental health. The American Psychology Association reports that social isolation impacts our mental and physical wellbeing in several ways. However, work-from-home life increases social isolation. So, here are ways to stay social when office life is gone.
Start A Zoom Book Club
If you aren’t ready for this step, you can host a virtual book club. A book club will encourage you to stay on track with reading goals, engaging you in captivating stories that can almost beat the loneliness on their own. Then, you’ll have a standing date with others to talk about the book and socialize.
Start A Walking Group
Should getting together indoors cause you anxiety amidst the pandemic, you can start a walking group. This group can meet on a regular basis in either the same place or different places to get some fresh air, get that cardio and socialize. Be sure to choose a location that allows everyone plenty of personal space. Even if others can’t commit to it regularly, you can be the founding member. Promise that you will be at a given spot every week at the same time, and whoever wants to join, can join.
Social Distance With Remote Workers
Find other remote workers looking to get out of the house and go somewhere to work together. There might be a large patio with seating at your local library or a coffee shop with complimentary Wi-Fi. You can all meet up there and create an impromptu office space. You can work on your respective projects, and take your coffee and lunch breaks together.
Work Remotely, Together, Over Video
Should finding an IRL location to work with others at prove difficult or just not be something you’re ready for, you can work together over a video platform like Skype, Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Have everyone who wants to join simply turn on their cameras while they work. Those who are open to occasional chit chat can participate and those who need silence can mute their speakers. You can also start a chat where each worker can drop funny memes or GIPHs throughout the day.
Take Video Lunch Breaks
Find other friends who work remotely and ask if they’d like to take lunch breaks together over Zoom. If you live alone, it’s break time that can be even lonelier than work hours. It’s also common to neglect to take a proper lunch break when you work from home. Having a buddy you have a standing Zoom lunch date with will encourage you to take that much-needed break.
Initiate Visual Contests
A little spirited competition can be a fun way to personalize the remote work world and get to know your colleagues better. Initiate a contest with a visual aspect to it. Perhaps you can have regular scavenger hunts in which people must find and photograph items in their homes that meet the description of the hunted items. Maybe colleagues can make videos of themselves working out at home, competing to see who sweats the most minutes each week.
Create Personal Update Time In Meetings
When you work in a real office space, it’s normal to chit chat a bit before and after meetings. But the Zoom environment can feel stiff and too official for that type of thing. So make a point to share personal updates at the beginning or end of each meeting. Maybe you can dedicate 10 minutes to each meeting for everyone to go around and share something they’re excited about in their personal lives. It adds a bit of that IRL office atmosphere to the remote world.
Host Weekly Virtual Happy Hours
You can do this as an individual or, if your company will allow it, on behalf of your company. Everyone can log into a virtual platform at the end of every week with their favorite drink in hand to just catch up, as if at a real bar. It’s certainly better than drinking alone. Plus, you can swap cocktail recipes.