The coronavirus pandemic has caused a seismic upheaval in people's work lives. From hundreds of jobs being lost to the crippling fear of redundancy to adapting ourselves to the new work-from-home situation, the pandemic has changed things for vast swathes of population.
In normal circumstances, There is a web of social face-to-face interactions that can make work days more pleasant. From long chats over coffee to small talk in the lift - they help to feel more connected and can bloom into genuine, long-lasting friendships.
For people starting new jobs amid the pandemic - being restricted to calls, emails, and chat functions, can make navigating the teething issues that come with a regular job more isolating.
The Guardian recently published an article on bonding with co-workers amid the coronavirus; it stated that studies show people with a close friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged with the work itself.
Such friendships can be maintained and nurtured remotely too– if one follows a few tips.
There are two types of trust: cognitive trust, which is trust in someone's experience, knowledge and ability; and, emotional trust: which determines how much one person likes and believes in another.
Achieving cognitive trust is generally achieved when colleagues see each other in action. However, a recent survey conducted by Westfield Health, a UK-based health and wellbeing company, suggests that 51 percent of Brits suspected their remote colleagues do less work than they say. Therefore, it might be amicable to put more effort on work than usual when one is working from home.
Bring some fun to the table
Those stupid jokes and personal titbits are integral to forming close-knit colleague relationships.
For office newcomers, fact or fiction exercise could be appropriate where a group shares three "facts" about themselves, two truths and one lie. Then other colleagues guess which is fact or fiction.
This can enable one to learn things about their colleagues that they wouldn't ordinarily know.
One could also take virtual tea breaks where everyone brings a cup and spends 15 minutes not discussing work.
Keep emotionally connected
All relationships need nurturing, whether they are established work friendships forged in the fire of looming deadlines or acquaintanceships whose chit-chat make the working space seem more friendly.
But if people are not crossing paths in real life, it is better to consider ways to cross paths virtually – such as a WhatsApp thread earmarked for banter and sharing "Saw this, thought of you" pictures and links.
Ask the obvious questions also play a role in building bonds among colleagues - like, asking someone where they went if they say they are catching up after a holiday.
Even conversation between old work buddies can become affected in the face of alien conferencing software and busy schedules.
Humour and challenge bring people closer together too. When one shares an experience or an emotional high or low with someone, that makes them more likely to be remembered, understood and cared for.
When chatting, it is important to be more expressive than usual. It is estimated that body language accounts for up to 93 percent of communication but can be much less visible online so it is important to ramp up the nodding and eye contact and leaning forward to show understanding, interest, and warmth.
Finding the happy technical place
While some people might be starved of conversation, others can feel bombarded by chatter across Zoom, WhatsApp and office intranets.
Different tools suit different people, so by using a mix one can be sure to embrace everyone.
WhatsApp or texting is better for personal connections because it cuts through this clutter. It works as a great spontaneous conversation tool on a one-to-one basis.
Don't be afraid to pick up the phone
Many millennials might shirk at the thought of a phone call with a colleague, but listening intently to one voice can add intimacy, so established work friends may benefit from an old-fashioned phone call.
And if all else fails one can't go wrong with paying a colleague a compliment. Studies suggest that paying someone a sincere compliment reciprocates warmth.
The article is a slightly modified version of the original one appearing on The Guardian