How To Reconnect With Your Colleagues
Small talk. Two words that send shivers down your spine. You get flashbacks of stilted conversations near the coffee machine, struggling to think of something to say to a coworker you barely knew (but spent countless hours working with).
Feel like you’re out of practice? There’s a big difference between sending Slack messages and talking in person. It’s been a while since you last tested your small talk skills.
In the non-digital world, socializing is a whole different ball game. Unlike Zoom calls, you can’t turn off your camera or mute your audio when you feel shy. Face-to-face conversations come with challenges of their own.
When you worked exclusively from home, you didn’t see nearly as many people during your workday. But at the office, you deal with a constant rotation of colleagues.
You’re looking forward to catching up with your colleagues. But rebuilding those connections takes time.
Networking is an important part of your career. What if you forgot how to do it? With the following tips, you can smooth the transition between social isolation and the bustling activity of the office:
Break the Ice
When you spent 40 hours a week with your colleagues, it was easy to find topics of conversation; you used to know what they were up to, generally. But the pandemic has changed the world, including the lives of your coworkers.
Your conversations used to flow as smooth as butter—now, you’re stumbling over your words, trying to remember how to mingle at the office. Even eye contact makes you feel shy. Is there any way to skip over the awkward phase?
Here’s a secret: Everyone’s favourite topic of conversation is themselves. If you can’t think of something to say, ask your coworkers a question instead!
Have they developed any new hobbies or interests over the pandemic? What’s the best movie they’ve watched, book they’ve read, or podcast they’ve listened to? If you discover a shared interest, you’ll find it easier to relate to that colleague.
Remember: It’s okay to start slowly. If you don’t feel comfortable with water cooler conversations just yet, that’s perfectly normal. Take small steps. A simple “Good morning!” when you arrive at the office is a perfect start.
Practice Active Listening
It’s one thing to start a conversation. But it’s another to actively listen to how someone responds. Trust us: People can tell the difference.
While you’re talking with someone, try to give your undivided attention—don’t check your phone, look around you, or multitask during the conversation. Give them your complete attention so you can focus on their words.
The next time you strike up a conversation, ask them a question about something they previously shared with you. Your attentiveness will be appreciated.
Plan an Outing
It can be difficult to form connections when you’re in the office. You’re bound by the confines of work; it’s tough to truly be yourself. If you want to get to know your colleagues in a different setting, it’s worth planning something outside of company time.
As a boss, you might worry that workplace friendships are a distraction for your colleagues. One article found that employees with workplace friends had higher job engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction. Strengthen your team by planning a group activity.
Try these low-pressure activities to build deeper connections:
Invite your fellow employees out for lunch or coffee.
Plan a group activity, like an escape room, karaoke night, or bowling.
Ask them to see a movie or attend a sports event.
When you get together in a new space, you’ll probably find it easier to unwind from the pressures at work and talk about new things.
Talk About Challenges
Once you’ve got a handle on small talk, you might quickly grow tired of it. To build more meaningful relationships with your colleagues, you need to move beyond questions like “How are you?” or “How was your weekend?”.
If you feel comfortable, you might consider sharing some of your challenges with other employees. What sorts of issues did you face working from home? You can easily find common ground when you open up about your experiences. Establishing empathy and support in a workplace helps others feel comfortable speaking up when they have an issue.
Remember: We’re all human. Recognizing that we all have personal struggles, flaws, and challenges is one way to connect with others. It can also help strengthen the company environment.
For example, if you learn that one of your colleagues has trouble communicating through email, you know that it’s best to go to their desk when you need to talk.
Show Your Colleagues Your Appreciation
Who doesn’t like to be thanked for their hard work? It always feels good when your extra effort is acknowledged. On a difficult day, it gives you the push you need to keep going.
Not everyone feels comfortable with these conversations. Instead of approaching someone, you can leave a thoughtful note at their desk. Write about how you value their hard work, problem-solving skills, and/or your friendship. Congratulate them on a recent promotion or achievement.
Tend to It
All relationships take work. We recommend that you check in with your coworkers regularly. If someone is struggling, they may not feel comfortable voicing it themselves. Are they feeling burnt out at work? By checking in, you can lend your support as needed. Make it a goal to check in with your coworkers at least once a week.
Looking for an Alternative to Remote Working?
We hope this article helps you navigate how to reconnect with your colleagues. Feel confident about your ability to build meaningful business relationships with these actionable tips.
Tired of the isolation that comes along with working from home? You’re ready for a change. A shared workspace in Toronto combines the social stimulation of an office with the flexibility of a coworking space.
At Workplace One, we offer office rentals tailored to your specific company. Choose a solution that suits your business, whether that’s a private office or one of our HQ suites. Start seeing the difference that a flexible office rental makes. Contact us today!