I love working remotely, but I feel more isolated than ever. How do I make friends with my co-workers? My company has switched to remote work during the pandemic, and no one is in a hurry to get back to the office anytime soon. This means that I go to work from home for a while, but as friends leave and new people start remotely, how do I connect with them, or stay close to my existing friends at work?
You might think that the hardest part of starting a business — or even keeping a job — while working remotely during a global pandemic is figuring out how to collaborate productively with your colleagues away from meeting rooms and brainstorming sessions that, admittedly, no one really likes. But what I miss most is informal communication: the smiles and sentiments of my officemates; People who pass by my desk to say “hello”; And it’s that sense of camaraderie that makes the commute at least partly worthwhile. You seem to miss that too.
The fix is very easy. Well, it’s easy for me to write, and not necessarily easy to implement. I’ve also started a job (the one I have now, in fact, here at WIRED) during the pandemic, and the first steps have been tough, but I’m happy to say I’ve made more friends here in a year than I could have ever imagined.
As long as we work remotely behind screens, it will be difficult صعب For any of us to really feel connected for each other. This is true whether you started a job while everyone was away and didn’t get a chance to meet anyone in person, or you were there a long time ago and your current work friends have left for new parties. The only real solution is to do the thing everyone hates: put yourself out there and talk to people.
Ask them to go on a video call with you just to chat about what you’re working on and what their interests are. Suggest a virtual coffee, or a virtual drink after work. (Or ice cream for people who don’t drink. My friend Karen Ho, sustainability reporter at from the insideTeach me that!) Make plans to hang out after you’ve finished a big project, for example. And follow up! Book your 15-minute coffee break on the calendar so no one will forget, and be prepared to move it along if you (or they) don’t feel like it today.
Not every offer has to come in the form of a calendar appointment. Join threads in Slack or Discord when someone says something funny. When a co-worker shares photos of cats in Slack, share your own adorable photos. Every company (Trust me, every company) contains Slack channels for jokes, memes, snack alerts, or just for sharing stories and rumours. Dive and share! It might seem awkward at first, but the more you do it, the more people will respond positively to you, and the more you’ll feel what and what doesn’t resonate with your peers. Follow your co-workers on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok (if you feel safe doing so) and interact with them kindly, telling them you appreciate their presence. Engage with them on a human level, not at the level of a co-worker trying to gain access to a network.
I know, actually opening up a bit and talking to people? Total. I wish there was an easier answer, one that would allow me to sit on my ass and let respect and validation come to me without actually having to be vulnerable or stumble through my embarrassing social anxiety. But a) we don’t always get what we want, and b) you ask a question that many of us struggle to answer even in the best of times, before “social distancing” becomes a thing.