Your Guide to Meeting Your Remote Team IRL

What’s one of the biggest changes people across the world have experienced during the coronavirus pandemic? I’m sure we can all agree that the shift to remote work ranks high.

The ongoing pandemic continues to hamper industries across the globe in terms of operating on-site and at full capacity. Hence, the rise of work from home and hybrid setups. Businesses are still struggling to find a middle ground when it comes to working arrangements, especially with every employee having different preferences. Work has had to be arranged in such a way that employees can maximize their productivity while reducing their risk of contracting or transmitting the virus.

Now that there’s the prospect, for some at least, of returning to in-person work arrangements, there’s a whole new culture shock on the way.

With most remote workers having been limited to virtual interactions (email, personal messages, and video calls), many might feel like they’ve lost their interpersonal skills after spending so much time working in isolation. 

As social creatures, we’ll always long for face-to-face conversations with friends, family members, and colleagues. However, the reality is that this adjustment could take some getting used to, even if we are in contact with those people every day via digital means.

Need a refresher as you get ready to revert back to ‘real life’ encounters after months and months of virtual meetings? Here are some tips that you might want to take into account as you prepare yourself for the return to your workplace:

Know more about the personal lives of your colleagues

Two female coworkers collaborating showing them something on their Black Surface laptop

A 2021 study reported that 43% of remote workers missed what many refer to as ‘water cooler chats’ in the office. Interacting with coworkers online is distinctly different from interacting with them in person: on the web, people are limited to video calls and online messaging, something which many feel burned out from. Some have even described this feeling as “Zoom fatigue.” 

Before meeting with your coworkers in person, try and recall what that they’ve shared with you or your team in one of your chats or meetings: Where are they from? Where’s their alma mater? Are they into any sports, shows, or certain hobbies? What do you know about their family?

The beauty of online interactions is that there’s a way for you to retrace your conversations or even take a look at their online profiles. You don’t need to stalk them on all their social media accounts; knowing their basic details (nickname, age, birthday…) will give you a list of icebreaker questions in case things get awkward. It’s also respectful to show that you’re able to remember basic conversation details or prove that you’ve made the effort to get to know your coworkers better. 

Wouldn’t want to embarrassingly forget the name of the person you’ve been working with for months on end, right?

Build on current connections

people sitting on chair in front of table while holding pens during daytime

Aside from taking the time to know more about your colleagues, it’s also important to find common interests. Build on what you might have in common to generate a smoother conversation regardless of who you’re sharing workspace with.

Being able to connect with your coworkers can pave the way towards long-term job satisfaction and 70% of workers will agree, with some even saying that they would refuse a pay rise if it meant not being able to get along with the people at their workplace.

One way you can build on current connections is by talking beyond work hours about non-work-related matters. However, don’t overdo it! It can be hard to keep track of the interests of all your colleagues. Instead, you can talk about general topics that you’d all enjoy and wouldn’t be shy to talk about. Avoid contentious topics such as politics or religion.

Ask for introductions

three men sitting on chair beside tables

Something that employees often overlook when it comes to meeting someone in person is to ask for introductions. Some people feel awkward, shy, or hesitant when it comes to introducing themselves, but taking that first step can help build bridges between you and your coworkers.

If you’re not too keen on approaching other people, you could have your boss initiate a team meet and greet. This will allow you to get an introduction to the entire team and have an idea of who you’ll be working with. Once that’s out of the way, it’ll be up to you and your coworkers to keep the momentum going.

Find ways to bond with your coworkers

woman in black and white polka dot dress sitting on brown wooden chair

People will feel differently about get-togethers after office hours, especially since you and your coworkers have spent so much time in isolation. It’s safe to say that most workers will feel nervous about interacting with others in person, but when you make the effort to spend time with them, you’ll immediately discover that it’s a great way to boost team morale and chemistry.

It doesn’t even have to be outside office hours — businesses are always looking for ways to enhance employee engagement and retention. You can approach the human resources (HR) and company management departments to organize an event to get everyone acquainted with each other. Think of it as a welcome back party for everyone to have the chance to get reacquainted.

Conclusion

While it can feel challenging to transition back to a pre-Covid lifestyle after nearly two years of working remotely, it will be a transition you won’t regret making. You’ll develop new work habits, foster new friendships, and breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the world (in some sense at least) is back to where it used to be.

As an employee, if you want to achieve your goals, you’ll need the support of your team. Working together in transitioning to the new normal can create significant benefits for both your career and the future of the company you work in.

Author:

@Hazel Gil

Date:

12-17-2021

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