Working from Home Is Not What It Once Was

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Help employees who are hungry for human contact

Back in the days when many or most of your employees were working in one facility, they popped into one another’s cubicles to chat. They ran into one another in the elevator. They went to meetings together. They went out to lunch. Sometimes they even met in that most stereotypical way - around the water cooler.

Their days were filled with social interactions. Today, people are likely to be starved for human contact. Sometimes, they might not even realize that they are. 

The New Typical Day

“I didn’t realize I was starved for human contact until I had a 10-minute conversation with the FedEx lady who delivered a package,” says a woman who now works from her home north of New York City. “I told her about my kids, she told me about hers, we discussed their schools, I referred her to a chiropractor I use, we talked about my Toyota, and it went on and on. Then when I went back into my house, my phone rang. It was a realtor who wanted me to list my house with her, and then we spent nearly a half hour talking about real estate in our town.”

Now, those are the words of an employee who is hungry for human contact. If you employ some people who are like her, or if you only suspect that some of your people are as lonely as she seems to be, what can you do? 

Help Employees Connect

- Have online virtual events that everyone is invited to attend. We’ve been doing this at KettleSpace. Many of our employees attend them, and they function as a “virtual water cooler” where people can maintain their sense of connection.

- Don’t skimp on virtual meetings and “huddles” that keep people engaged. Regular meetings offer social forums that also result in better work. You can say, for example, “Here’s the goal we would like to accomplish this week . . . how can we break it down into steps . . . who will tackle each of them, and when?” This works because being too hands-off with remote workers can increase their sense of separation.

- Encourage people to call their friends during working hours. Try telling them, “Please take a few work breaks during the day and catch up with your friends,” This will help people feel less isolated. There is nothing wrong with having an intimate conversation with the FedEx lady, but conversations that employees have with good friends could offer them more reassurance and support. 

- Use energizing health challenges, games and contests. They can be great ways to help people remember they are part of a team.

- And consider letting small groups of employees work together in small hyperlocal office locations near their homes. KettleSpace is your best resource for arranging small regional satellite offices where your employees can work safely in small groups. Why not contact us today to learn more?

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