How To Maintain Workplace Relationships During A Pandemic
For those of us who thrive on socialiing and working in a team, the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly impacted usual routine. So when maintaining our bubbly social selves is no longer as easy, we simply need to do some extra steps! Just with any normal friendship, there are five maintenance strategies which are the key to keeping relationships alive, all of which can still be done, we just need to find new ways to exercise them.
Despite there being an awful lot of hardship in the world at present, it is still important to remain positive towards colleagues. This involves remembering that when you are a part of a team, it is you all vs the problems and never you vs each other. Whether your working from home separately or in the office while socially distanced, there are always ways to brighten up someone's day, be that a simple email praising each other's work, sharing excitement about your latest projects, or sending motivational quotes - or of course some funny memes!
With any form of relationship, openness is an important part of building comfort and confidence in a friendship, and this translates into workplace relationships too. Keeping each other in the loop can be harder with less face-to-face time, but there are other ways. Keeping your colleagues updated on your projects and progress can be a great way to maintain connection, simply dropping your team a few emails throughout the day lets them know what's going on at your end, while also creating more conversation points to help move relationship forward rather than backwards. You can all bring aspects of your personal life into this if you wish to, helping to build a more multi-dimensional friendship, where you are able to connect on a personal level and also improves your ability to work together well.
Finding ways to let your colleagues know that you care about maintaining your friendship and be supportive is tricky when walking the fine line between professional and personal relationships, and even more difficult with the added complication of distance. There are a few ways you can show you're invested in workplace relationships, such as suggesting frequent short team 'meetings' throughout the week or even throughout the day. These don't even have to be work related, if you fancy a catch up or a natter, it not only helps to break up the day and takes your mind away from your work briefly, but it also gives you a good dose of socialising and helps you stay connected to the rest of your team.
Like anything worth having, relationships take work which means sharing that workload between the team. There are various tasks we perform, often naturally, in order to maintain a friendship such as favours, being the one to call, or text first, or organise things. While this one relates more to personal relationships, a natural part of the work dynamic is about the small things, such as getting a drink for everyone when you get one for yourself, or popping to the shop for your colleagues. While social distancing, it's not advised to do those things while limiting contact, so the dynamic can feel very strange when you're not naturally doing them. This can be combatted by being mindful of other small tasks you can do. For example, taking on small parts of their workload to help them, or asking them if there's anything they would like you to do. Also, another suggestion would be making plans for when you are able to have a work outing or celebration - If and when it is safe to do so of course.
Working in a team creates a network between you and your co-workers, making use of this network and nurturing it is an important part of keeping workplace relationships alive. This can be done through social media, newsletters, and team meetings, all of which will also be great for keeping your business alive during this time. Content doesn't always have to be directly related to your business or product either, it could be news about your team which gives people a sense of contribution and makes everyone feel part of the wider community, therefore strengthens the friendships within.