With so many companies transitioning to remote or hybrid work, many professionals are feeling the brunt of those lonely hours. Work friendships are becoming few and far between. Virtual opportunities hinder the socialization of midday lunches and coffee runs, times when most people can bond or vent with their colleagues outside of work.
Work friends can benefit your time at work in more ways than one, from relieving stress to increasing creativity. Microsoft elaborates, “Friends can also help buffer the routine stress that comes with any job. If an employee has a particularly taxing client meeting, they’ll feel better if afterward they can blow off steam with a close co-worker. If they leave that meeting and don’t have anyone to talk to, the steam simply…stays inside them.”
The option to turn to your coworkers, whether for professional or personal reasons, can often make or break the way you feel about a job. Being able to create those strong connections not only boosts retention, but also supports mental health in the workplace. However, remote work has made these relationships difficult. If your employees work virtually, it’s beneficial to take some extra steps to encourage and rebuild these friendships.
Initiate open conversation
Perhaps the biggest way to maintain these connections is to allow employees time to chat and converse in a casual environment. In our blog post How to Stay Connected in a Hybrid Environment, we emphasize the importance of virtual coffee breaks to discuss non-work related topics. This type of easy, supportive space gives employees the chance to learn about each other, even across state lines. Often, these conversations lead to creative brainstorming and increased productivity among the team.
Encourage consistent communication
There are several ways to keep healthy communication flowing. For instance, creating Teams or Slack channels dedicated to specific topics allows everyone the chance to discuss ideas at any time. Ultimately, this leads to stronger connections amongst employees and opens the door for anyone who may otherwise not speak up.
Schedule in-person team outings
Though this may be more difficult depending on everyone’s location, the occasional in-person outing not only strengthens work friendships, but proves to your employees that their efforts at work do not go unnoticed. Trips and meet-ups outside of work give everyone a chance to blow off some steam, while also promoting strong bonds.
Don’t force it
Remember, not everyone wants to create or maintain friendships at work. Be respectful of everyone’s feelings and how they wish to communicate with their colleagues. Too much pressure can come across as overbearing to those who rather just focus on work. Continue the encouragement while also letting everyone figure out their relationships on their own.
Interested in working with Green Key? If your company is looking for additional hiring needs, and hoping to establish friendships within, don’t hesitate to contact us today!