All but one of my coaching clients are still working from home and suspect they will be for months to come. They are split on how they feel about this arrangement – 12 still enjoying it and 12 not so much. They all lament missing the impromptu interactions that occur in the office. I propose a way to bridge this gap: Random Acts of Connection.
My clients have devised two ways to do this. Some put their kids’ school supplies to use, and even solicit their assistance. The most random way is to fill a bowl with the names of your immediate team and others you might run into on a given day at the office. Decide the medium and frequency for connection. Example options:
> Pull name(s) each day to call – stalk their calendar and find a 15-minute window where you can drop in for a coffee call. You decide if this is one person a day or more (or some number per week).
> Pull name(s) each day to shoot a random instant message (IM, Slack, Hangouts) – to touch base, unrelated to any project or work.
A less random approach, but still random in content, is the creation of a list of all team members and others you would typically interact with at the office. This list could be on a white board, poster board, piece of paper, or Excel spreadsheet for my finance friends. You might add columns for the weeks and note in the column when you connect, perhaps even how (coffee call, Slack, Hangouts). Your goal might be to “fill the card” (or each column) each week.
With either approach, you might decide you will reach out to one person after lunch each day, or for coffee each morning. These acts of connection serve to help you engage on a different level than what is gained in meetings. Be prepared with a question or two, such as:
· What has been the highlight of your week?
· What is the funniest thing that has happened to you since we last spoke?
· Who has been making your job easier these days?
· What brings you joy when you are not at work?
As we all navigate these uncertain times, it is paramount to keep a focus on the positive things happening around us. It is equally important to have connections that allow us to elevate each other. This may be simulating your office connections, but the value will be real.