Communication with Co-workers During Social Distancing

Danielle Beatty
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Our living room has become our office. And let’s be real, working from home has some pluses. It’s nice not to commute and dressing casually feels great. But the work banter has shifted.


Emails have become tight, direct and taken the place of leaning over to ask, “Hey did you get that?” or “What do you think about this?” Microsoft Teams or Slack keeps the daily dialogue going or allows us to work through an idea together. Video conferencing helps us stay up-to-date with presentations and holds us accountable to do something…anything with our hair.


So as far as work goes, we haven’t missed a beat. But it’s the daily conversations I miss most. There is something lacking from not being around my co-workers to hear how they are.


When we went to work, I could walk over to talk with them, but now, I rely much more on emojis. Sure, on video chat we see each other’s faces, but the call comes and goes so quickly there is not always time to chat.


So, I am learning to be intentional with conversation. Something beautiful happens when we linger and just be human together. It gives space to let conversations happen like the ones we used to have when we’d gather for coffee or hang around after a meeting.


Work communication is about connecting with each other as people and co-workers. Talking with a co-worker about something non-work-related charges me to return invigorated. Turns out, we are more efficient in work when we socially connect.


While we continue working from home, here are some ideas for staying connected with co-workers:


1.  Check In: These times are uncertain and maintaining daily non-work-related conversations matters. If you host a video conference call, schedule time to keep it open a few extra minutes to let people talk with each other. When emailing or messaging, ask your co-worker ‘how’s it going’ or ‘how are you’. Even if you don’t have something work related to talk about, a quick note to show you’re thinking about them is appreciated. These check-ins go a long way to build strong communication.


2.  Video Conferencing: This works great for meetings and presentations. There is a screen share feature on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Skype for virtual presentations. Plus, you can mute everyone when you need all eyes on you. Don’t worry, there’s a chat box so people can still ask questions! And don’t worry about your kids or pets making appearances, they’re your new officemates and that’s okay.


  • Email: Keep work related emails tight by using lists and bullet points. This keeps information clear and concise in an easy to follow format.


  • Messenger: Use an instant messenger program, like Skype or Microsoft Teams, when discussing a project. It is much simpler than emailing back and forth.


  • Phone Calls: Pick up the phone and talk through a project. Just ask if your co-worker if now is a good time before calling.



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