More people than ever are working remotely, as more organizations chose not to have a traditional return to the office. The work-from-home trend has been rising steadily even before the pandemic, but this new kind of remote work calls for a different mindset and more support for co-workers who could be juggling multiple responsibilities and struggling with feelings of stress and loneliness. If you want to show your support for your co-workers, try these tips to be supportive without being physically present.
Check-In With Curiosity
As you check in with members of your team, ask open-ended questions, such as, “How can I help you?” rather than leaving it up to them by saying things like, “let me know if you need anything.”
A lot of people don’t take the initiative to let other people know that they need help, because they don’t want to feel as though they are failing or not accomplishing their own work. It’s important to approach these conversations with curiosity and to actually be willing to do what you can to support your co-workers. It can be useful to get to know your co-worker’s habits and preferences. When you know they liked to be supported, you will do better.
Create Systems Of Support
Some organisations have created more structured support systems to combat the loneliness that can come with remote work. They might offer employee assistance programmes, assign virtual buddies, or hire a mental health expert to check in with everyone. Others use Adult MHFA courses to train mental health first aiders to offer more support for people.
You could also create your own support group, either in or outside of work. For example, you could form a group for those in a similar position to you, such as remote workers with young children, to collaborate, share wins, and share worries.
Create a place where people feel ok to turn up and talk honestly about how they’re feeling.
Foster Informal Connection
One of the biggest challenges of working remotely for many people is missing out on the more spontaneous casual chats that usually happen around the office, such as when you meet in the office kitchen.
Informal encounters like bumping into someone in the hallway, stopping by someone’s desk to say hello, or nipping out to pick up a coffee together are beneficial for forming relationships, but they can also lead to new ideas and project collaboration.
You can try to recreate the feel of these informal and spontaneous conversations by starting meetings with chats about topics that aren’t related to work, holding virtual gatherings like a happy hour on a Friday afternoon, or arranging learning circles for people to come together, talk, and catch up.
It will take more to get these interactions to work remotely, and it might feel unnatural, to begin with. If you want to have more informal talks with your colleagues, you could make use of chat functions in Gmail and Microsoft Teams or Slack and create a ‘water-cooler’ channel to talk about anything other than work.