“It has been over 18 months and I have not seen any of my colleagues in person: how am I going to deal with this any longer? I am missing the in-person meetings, the water cooler chats, the impromptu lunches, the white boarding of ideas, the agreements as well as the disagreements, but most importantly, I am missing my friends… AARGH!!”
This was me complaining to myself one day recently. I calmed down after a few Teams interactions and video calls with my team in our regional offices. I know I can’t be the only one feeling this way. Prior to the restrictive measures put in place across the globe due to the pandemic, I doubt any of us thought we would miss going to the office and seeing our colleagues. But isn’t that one of the unwritten rules… when you can’t have something, you want it the most. We now realize that our colleagues, with whom we spend just about a third of each day, 5 days a week, are a very important part of our daily lives.
“But hang on a minute,” I thought to myself, “How did we maintain relationships with our colleagues who were already working remotely or in another regional office before the pandemic? We learned to connect with them virtually from office to office, which was already a great success. What if we apply the same thinking to staying connected with our office colleagues: Instead of seeing one another in the office, we now meet virtually from our kitchens, coffee corners, or even our gardens. While it certainly cannot replace in-person interaction, these virtual meetings have proven to be a great tool in keeping people connected during a time when we are feeling disconnected.”
In my role with Analysis and Delivery (A&D), I spend a lot of time working with spreadsheets and calculations and formulas. It’s a welcome break to speak with other A&D colleagues in our European, Boston, and Hong Kong offices during our weekly meetings. Our Brussels, Cologne and London colleagues come together once a week for a “virtual coffee” – the conversation goes everywhere and anywhere, we are just not allowed to discuss work for those 30 minutes!
One of the positive — or let’s say productive — outcomes of confinement due to the pandemic was that most companies offered remote working to their employees. This allowed many people to move back home, get closer to family or even find new work-friendly places. And yes, while it took us physically away from the office and our colleagues, oddly, I found it connected teams more strongly than before. Remote working has not only made life easier but it has also increased productivity.