Image by Fran__ from Pixabay
Image by Fran__ from Pixabay

Staying Social While Social Distancing

April 15, 2020 in Uncategorized

At Commit, we are working to help enable more people to work remotely. While I often hear people worry about the lack of socialization when you aren’t in an office anymore, as someone who works from home every day, I’m continually looking for ways to resolve this. Now that we are all physical distancing, the socialization tips I’ve picked up may help others too. Here’s what’s worked for me and might work for you — now and in the future, when we ease back into regular life.

Socialize Remotely

It’s common for adults to form tight friendships with people at work. The more time you spend with someone, the more likely you are to be friends. Even if you aren’t able to spend time physically with others, you can still find activities that you enjoy doing together, but separately. It can be as simple as sharing a meal you prepared on Instagram and engaging with others’ posts, or starting a book club via group chat.

You likely have groups of friends that you chat with via text already. If you are looking to replace your usual social activities, you should switch to video calls. It allows you to be more expressive and engage more deeply in the conversation.

Before COVID-19, I would take the time to meet up in person with friends, catch up for lunch, or go for a drink on a Friday. We now have a recurring meeting with a video call, where we have a drink or a snack and chat about the day. You can use Zoom, Hangouts or Messenger, or even newer tools like House Party. The key is to take the time to do it — to schedule into your calendar.

Connect with Coworkers

You can still spend time with people you work with, even if you aren’t in an office together. I run a Discord channel with my team to promote casual conversations. Create a room that you hang out in while you’re working, and have people drop by for a chat.

Find tasks that two people can do together and share your screen while you work on them. Zoom calls can be for informal meetings too. Use them to catch up on what your team is working on, or to take a break and chat. To make creating calls even more accessible, you can use the Slack bot that lets you start a meeting by typing ‘/zoom.’

I’ve run social events with coworkers outside of work as well. We’ve played trivia games from Jackbox, and ordered ramen to eat together at lunch. Find things that your team likes and get people together to talk about them, or do an activity.

Remote tools are improving all the time, and a lot of them are trying to scale up to meet the new demand. While I see this dropping off eventually, I’m sure a lot of these communication methods will stick around. In the future, you could run a remote cooking class, or a jam session to play music together. There’s a lot of room to grow in this space, and I’m excited to see what’s next.

Get a Pet

Even though we are distancing from each other, there are still animals out there that need our care. Shelters still need people to foster and adopt animals. Make sure you call your local shelter first, as they will be operating in a limited capacity. There are plenty of animals that need your love and care.

For long-term remote work, spending a few minutes with a pet can be a great way to de-stress and refocus. Taking a dog for a walk can give you time to think about the problem you’re trying to solve. Plus, sending your coworkers cute animal pics always gets a positive response.

Keep in mind that a pet is a big commitment. It’s a lot of work and can get very expensive. But, if you’ve wanted a pet and you’re working from home now, it’s a great chance to take care of them.

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

Enjoy Your Flexible Schedule

Take advantage of your flexibility while working at home. Take a walk while it’s nice out, or go to the store for groceries when it’s less busy. Not only is this helpful to break up the day, remembering to exercise is even more critical when you start working from home.

I like to exercise in the mornings and shower before starting work, but find what works for you. Communicate with those you work with on when you will be available. Schedule your day in advance, including your social events. Make sure your friends know if you’re making time to call them during lunch or to play games after work. You might even find you’re able to be more productive while still having time for yourself.

Give Remote a Chance

I’ve been working remotely as an engineer for almost a year, and it’s nowhere near as isolated as I thought. Working remote may not be ideal for everyone, but don’t let a fear of losing your social life be the deciding factor.

Have thoughts on staying social while social distancing? Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you to Shane Gearon for writing this article.