Conversations and casual communication are often when great ideas are formed, prompts for action occur, opportunities arise and collaboration flourishes. For those of us who are hard wired to think creatively, love to brainstorm in the spur of the moment, erupt sometimes erratically, and make things happen ‘ on the hop’, our ability to build rapport with our colleagues, to express our ideas to build consensus and team spirit have been dramatically affected by the lack of spontaneous communication in our new work environment.
Working from home can be lonely and inevitably squashes those spontaneous moments that lead to closer relationships and creative solutions to problems. It seems that with today’s new world, gone are the days of turning to a colleague and asking them a quick question about our projects, gone are the days of reading body language while trying to gauge an opinion, and gone are the days of ideas coming to life at the water cooler or on a smoke break. Instead we are forced to rewire our brains to a new normal of planned Zoom appointments to catch up, communicate our progress, or even to just to ask a question.
This begs the question, will the days of spontaneity and impulse in the workplace return? Or will we have to adjust to a new world of planned interactions? If so , how so we ensure we have spontaneous interactions from afar ?
-Try to understand what level of conversation your different colleagues are happy with, and try to use open ended questions to stimulate exchanges.
– Introduce a new format – Some teams designate a one 1/2 hour period mid-afternoon as “coffee time”. Encouraging all to take take a break from work, have a coffee or tea and chat remotely.
-Take your colleague to the water cooler with you ! In other words, travel with your computer. Stepping into the kitchen to make a coffee ? Take a colleague with you. Doing a few victory laps around your living room to celebrate a win? Make sure your video is on widescreen.
– Designate a chat channel such as ‘slack’ for “casual chatter” and encourage all to drop their thoughts there.
You never know, relations may even become even richer.