Working Mother

Connecting with coworkers when time is precious

It has been ages since I have been able to go out after work with coworkers for a quick (or not-so-quick) drink. Even if I had the time, I likely wouldn’t have the energy to actually make it through a full drink before falling asleep.

It wasn’t as though I went out after work very often, so it may be that I miss the ritual rather than the actual act. Regardless, I miss that fun connection with coworkers.

Sure, I could socialize more at work – the proverbial “water cooler chat.” The catch I find myself in is that I spend less time chatting because I am more focused on getting through my task list so I can leave work in time to get to the baseball game and have less work to take home for after the children are asleep.

In addition to my focus on tasks, due to the nature of my work, I also spend more time working out of the office than in.

It’s still important to be involved in the culture at my work place, but I struggled at first to figure out how to connect with my coworkers with the constraints I had. It was time to think outside the box.

Some of the things I have tried include:

  • When I am in the office, I assume that about 1/3 of my time will be spent in just chatting with people. Granted, it’s not all small talk; some is related to projects we work on together. We just need that time to bounce ideas off each other. Even then, I still make sure to check in with as many people as I can. I used to get frustrated at all the time spent talking, but I now realize the value of this and do not plan nearly as much during time in the actual office.
  • If an issue is more complicated than an email, I will arrange for a video call. It doesn’t take any more time that a usual call but there is something about actually having a face-to-face conversation that really helps build relationships.
  • I like to share small successes with my coworkers. Not only do I like to celebrate the little things, I like to hear about other people’s successes. So if I share mine, they will share theirs.
  • Most days I manage to grab a quick bite for lunch while working at my desk. However, on the days I am actually in the office, I actually plan to eat lunch with coworkers. Even though the researchers say we are supposed to actually stop and eat without work, but that is typically not what I do. Just a little bit of time spent over lunch has done wonders for connecting with coworkers.
  • Finally, when it’s time for some strategic planning on a joint project, I like to plan to meeting outside the office, usually at cozy coffee shop. Not only does it get us away from the usual job stress, it is much more informal and connections seem to be easier to make.

Are you working remote, either partially or full-time? How do you connect with coworkers when you are not in the office all the time?

 

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