"Feeling more disconnected from their workplaces ..." Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
Very interesting article, thanks! I still have friends from my previous places of work, with whom we sometimes gather, and I’m even interested in hearing what they have going on there, like nastolgia. I really appreciate friendly relations, especially when the working day is long, you can be distracted and chat, and not sit like a lone wolf.
Free agents working remotely never become true team players and it is not their fault because the “team” hasn’t recognized the necessity for a “clubhouse” where relationships are built. It will be one of the big longvterm costs of Covid and remote work
My company does things like virtual yoga on Fridays, holiday happy hours (virtual) and random game days. It’s a nice idea but I’m not one for drinking alone while watching people on screen do the same. The nice thing is, we are spread across the country and into Canada, we are grouped by sales segments, meaning: manufacturing, services, tech, etc. and we meet regularly with our segments. Mine has people from NJ, Texas, Chicago, etc. in it, so I’m getting to know my coworkers around the country. That wouldn’t happen if we were still in brick and mortar, but I still miss walking down the hall to catch up or collaborate on things. I miss going to lunch with my coworkers to watch the start of an early weekday baseball game too.
I’m a 70 year old remote tech company employee and life coach. I’ve established weekly or bimonthly 30 minute Zoom meetings with favorite coworkers, some individually and some threesomes. It’s “safe space” time to just enjoy each others company and share workplace highs, lows, and observations. Sometimes the sessions go well past 30 minutes. By practicing intentional connecting with coworkers we’re drawn to, work life is more fulfilling.
we may lack the historical data to understand the context of remote work friends. Most Americans work in small businesses with less than 50 employees. These are hard environments to find a close friend any more than a sexual partner. I suspect that 'friends at work' is largely a phenom of mid-to-large size companies overall due to enhancing the odds of a pairing. Also, the rise of women in the workplace has exerted two countervailing forces against work friendship: most men aren't interested in platonic female friends (unless they're gay) and that removes 50% of employees from consideration; women are under excessive pressure to compete with each other for promotions vs.men and this will take a bunch of women off the table for them. The remote issue may really be linked to the initial ramp up of friending.
We have been and will continue to be in a period of fluctuation as COVID response/reaction forced some technology based flexibility to proliferate. Speaking to people that work in different agencies, companies, & industries it is evident that there are a lot of diverse solutions being tried as leadership/management figure out how to balance some new dynamics in employee relations, expectations, and well... a generally different work place reality. Different approaches and flexibility options provide both opportunity and challenges. The key point of this to me is that the solutions we apply today (or yesterday) are the causes of the problems we will have to address tomorrow.
I spent four years as the leader of our employee engagement team. We implemented multiple Gallup Q12 surveys. “I have a best friend at work” is one of the 12 questions. The wording of the question is important: “A” best friend…
Reviewing results from surveys over time demonstrated, at least in our world, that results of this question closely tied to work group engagement and performance. The intent of the question, in part, is to measure trusting relationships. It’s about having someone you trust to talk with and say what is on your mind without fear of retribution, someone that understands the work environment and knows the players. It is the most controversial question and yet is very telling.
I am unsure how these kind of relationships can develop remotely over zoom. How do you develop the trust necessary for these relationships to even begin? Sure, there are exceptions and I’m sure the 80/20 rule applies with 80% of employees not as successful getting there. Moreover, my experience is that employees loathe management attempts at team building in person, much on a screen.
Effectively creating an environment for high levels of employee engagement in remote situations is clearly a challenge!
From my very first "real" job roughly 38-39 years ago, my "lunch bunch" group remains in touch and still gathers periodically for lunch. Five of us have been a constant and a few others joined us along the way. Our last original member retired from the aerospace company we all were working at in 1984. We met for lunch, 7 of us, a month ago reminiscing and catching up on our families and more. I'm the last one working full time. My world of work is all virtual. I am grateful for my early friendships with co-workers and how it shaped my ability sustain friendships at work, even virtually.
No, no best buddy at work these days but that's more a function of level than anything. I still have best buddies who were colleagues when we were at other firms though, including two who are what I consider my best friends period, not just best work friends.
I don't do the 2 minute spotlight thing in meetings but we're in a pile of regular meetings with the same people and we're all friendly, so there's a lot of banter before just about any meeting. For more structured banter, I do a bi- weekly remote meeting with my team where an update from me is maybe the first 10 minutes, then it's over to that week's MC to have an agenda focused on icebreakers and games and general shenanigans. It's a good way to stay connected and the team seems to like it.
We purposely do those on days when we're not in the office so that there is that opportunity for connection despite not being in the office.
We also have a formal mentor/mentee program that people can sign up for. It's a great connection tool, and not just for those who joined post March 2020.
Interesting that we spend the first 25% of our lives interacting with family, friends, schoolmates, etc. only to move into an environment with only an internet connection/interaction (a zoom visit is not the same as a discussion over lunch or conversation at the water cooler)
4. or 3a. Learn together, i.e., learn while being a mentor / mentee. My strongest / fondest / not-all-leading-to-friendship memories have to do with the exchange of ideas which led to learning necessary new or relearning known 'things' to solve work 'issues'
I’ve always had a gift of connecting with people. I would start a job and build many small bonds and a few strong ones. I’ve always connected well with clients. I believe I come across as sincere. This has always helped in both camps.
Now I’m working 100% remotely. In certain cases, even only via words (chat only, across oceans). I’m finding I’m building some of the strongest bonds I’ve ever experienced. Clients who are good friends…co-workers (it’s my own business, but people with whom I share the workload or call a “partner”) that would move mountains for me and visa-versa.
“Remote” changes the structure, but doesn’t have to change the result. If you’re a boss, allow people the time & means to connect. If you’re an employee, take risks.
My best advice? Get a zoom background. It’s so freeing! :-)
This "millennial stock photo" has got to go. I've seen it used hundreds of times over the last 10 years.
...and on and on and on...
I work and have worked with some truly amazing people over the years in my current position. Family and people from all over the world have made it possible to keep it up.
There is so much content surrounding my experiences and the people who have been a part of it I could write for a year... ha! Stay tuned for the “Pizza Blog” ..
I moved to my city nine years ago knowing no one, and the few people at our recent wedding were mostly friends I made at my former job when I moved here. But also, I have a best friend at my current job whom I have never met in person, but she’s someone I consider a friend for life.
My core group of friends, to this day, are from an incredibly connected work environment from 30 years ago. We all have worked together, in smaller, variable groupings, at different companies and also bringing in others, weaving a true network over the years. I can’t imagine “growing up on the job” remotely and being as connected. I am truly sorry for this generation (Mils/Z) to lose this connectedness. I hope they gain it back as more companies return to more in person yet are still able to remote as needed for balance.