virtual meeting

Best Ways to Stay Connected in a Virtual Work Environment

More people than ever are working from home. But this can create isolation. Here we discuss ways to create connections with your coworkers, even on virtual teams.

There are more opportunities than ever for you to be able to work remotely. While it is certainly a luxury to not have to commute to work everyday, working from home can come with some potential drawbacks. 

Because you spend so much of your time at your job (a third of the day!), your workplace is usually a place to make friends and create connections. At the bare minimum, it provides a regular source of human interaction. 

And when you work from home, you might start missing out on consistent human contact. Those little conversations you have with your coworkers around the office do make a big difference in your ability to feel connected to others. And the relationships you build at work provide all kinds of benefits to your life.

Your work connections could help you get a promotion or garner a creative solution to a stubborn problem. For example, you could be chatting with a coworker who works in a different department in the break room. You aren’t on any mutual teams, but you see each other regularly around the office. You might start sharing about a difficulty your team is encountering on an important task. And your coworker immediately comes up with the perfect fix. 

Or, maybe you take time to mentor your fellow coworkers, regardless of whether or not you are on the same team. When you see new employees in the office, you offer helpful suggestions and make yourself available if they need assistance. 

Supportive work connections allow for easier knowledge sharing and promote innovation. The relationships you create at work can help you feel like you’re a part of something, and can even help you move forward in your career. But switching over to virtual work environments has changed the way we relate to our coworkers. Even though it’s convenient to work from home, it is also more lonely. 

According to a study, people are reporting attending more work meetings than pre-2020, but also feeling more isolated than ever. Even though we might be checking in more, we aren’t experiencing the kinds of fulfilling interactions that add value to our daily lives.

At MacklinConnection, our mission is to help you create meaningful connections in all aspects of life - especially at work. We find that when teams cultivate effective communication skills and learn how to actually relate to each other, work can become a source of fulfillment.

Our company is completely remote and our workshops and coaching also take place virtually. Even though most of us have never actually been in the same physical space together, we prioritize our relationships with each other. I feel more connected to my co-workers working remotely now than I ever did working in an office.

Here we discuss the best 3 ways to create and maintain connections with co-workers if you work remotely:

  • Be present and contribute in meetings
  • Get to know your coworkers
  • Ask for help

We have found that these are the easiest ways to actually feel less socially isolated at work. (And they require only a little extra effort on your part.)

Turn Your Camera and Microphone On + Contribute

As Zoom meetings have become the norm, it can be tempting to keep your camera off and your microphone muted. We get it - it might feel a little awkward to have your coworkers see your at-home set up. But releasing the feeling that you might be judged for how you or your house looks can free you to have better meetings where you feel more connected.

When you have your camera off and stay muted on the call, you isolate yourself and can seem unapproachable - especially if you have never actually met your coworkers. Putting in face time on meetings is a simple way for you to establish yourself with the people you work with.

Get to Know Your Coworkers as People 

When you meet with your coworkers on a video or phone call, start asking them about their day and what they have going on. It doesn’t have to be a super in depth conversation right away. Enjoy the small talk and see it as an opportunity to create a foundation. 

When working in the office was the norm, you would usually chat with your coworkers as you all gathered for meetings. And those conversations are important in building trust and rapport with others. 

When you work from home, it can be easy to forget that the person on the other end of your email is an actual human being with their own life. In order to feel more connected to your coworkers, it’s important to see them as actual people, instead of other cogs in the machine.

We all have a lot going on in our lives. And it can be easy to write someone off as lazy, rude, or a problem when you don’t actually know them or what they care about. But if you start to set aside a few minutes to catch up with your coworkers and actually get to know them, you’ll find you aren’t as tense or upset with them if something happens to go wrong. 

Ask for and Offer Help and Look for Opportunities to Collaborate 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This gives you another opportunity to get to know your coworkers outside of virtual meetings. Most people like to feel that they have something to offer. By asking your coworkers to help with troubleshooting or brainstorming for a project, you are telling them that their ideas matter to you. 

And offer help when you have support to give. Show that you are a team player and your coworkers will want to collaborate with you. The more you can work with others, the less isolated you’ll start to feel.

Create Connections that Matter at Work 

If you work from home, you might feel isolated. We spend about a third of our time at our job. If you aren’t physically in the same space as other people, this could create a feeling of loneliness. You’re also missing out on opportunities for innovation and career advancement if you’re not making a point to connect with your coworkers.

Even working remotely, you can develop meaningful relationships with the people you work with. By taking a little initiative and putting yourself out there, you can get to know your coworkers better and become someone others want to collaborate with. These connections you create can significantly enhance your life. In fact, we believe that it is through our connections with others - including our coworkers - that we finally start to thrive.

And if you feel like you want support to discover how to actually build real relationships in all aspects of your life, we’d love to connect with you in our online community to access even more content and connect with others. In our community, you can explore articles centered around sharing vulnerable, authentic stories to help you start to create the life you want. You can also access a library of courses and build connections with others who want to change the world one relationship at a time.