How to Focus on Workplace Relationships in a Post-COVID World

Share this via:

By Mike Kappel, Forbes

Working remotely can feel a little lonely, can’t it? I know I miss seeing my co-workers every day in our office building. But, we did what we had to do to keep everyone safe and healthy. However, those precautions can sometimes come with an expense: workplace relationships. That’s why it’s so important to set up a plan for maintaining workplace relationships whether your team is remote, in-person, or somewhere in between.

4 Tips For Better Workplace Relationships
My accounting software and payroll company, Patriot Software, went 100% remote in March 2020. And, we have been remote ever since. Yet in such isolating times, we have managed to maintain strong relationships with each other. Here are four ways you, too, can keep strong workplace relationships during and post-Covid.

1. Overcommunicate
Social distancing is for the greater good, but that doesn’t mean staying away from people is great. As a matter of fact, this distance can lead to workers feeling as though they are left in the dark—and no one wants that.

The easiest way to make sure everyone is up to par with their work and engaged is to communicate a lot. And I don’t mean a simple “Hey, how ya doin’?” over your company’s messenger. Communication is a two-way street and more in-depth than a breezy check in.

Sure, it’s great to talk around the digital water cooler with your co-workers, but you need to prioritize “real talk.” Real talk is more than cheering on your co-workers and telling them how great they are doing throughout the day. Instead, it’s being open and honest. Let your team know how they can improve. Tell them where they’re excelling, but don’t sugarcoat where there’s room for growth.

Along with keeping communication “real,” check in often. Make the time to talk and give your team the opportunity to openly communicate. That way, you can nip potential problems in the bud before they fester.

You can overcommunicate by talking with your team on a regular basis (think weekly 1:1s, morning meetings, etc.). The more often everyone talks, the more likely you’ll see an improvement in your workplace’s communication (and relationships).

Consider also sending out routine communications to the entire company regularly(monthly is great!). You can:

  • Send out company-wide newsletters
  • Host video calls for the entire company to participate in
  • Record messages from you and other managers in your company

Your goal is to get everyone talking and doing it often. And if you’re fully back in the office or on a hybrid schedule, you can also still send out weekly, monthly, etc., communications to stay in touch.

2. Practice Active Listening
Back in the 1980s, I imploded a promising career because the company I worked for needed to know the information I had. But, they did not listen to me, so I took that information all the way up the chain of command until I was a pariah. I worked darn hard to get the data I had, and no one listened. Heck, no one wanted to listen.

Now, I am a serial entrepreneur who has made a few mistakes along the way. But, I believe in listening. Not everything a co-worker says to me is something I necessarily want to hear, but I believe in listening to what they have to say. And to foster workplace relationships, you need to practice active listening.

You can practice active listening by:

  • Giving verbal and nonverbal signs of listening (e.g., nodding your head and giving good eye contact)
  • Asking questions for clarification
  • Allowing whoever is speaking to finish before asking questions or responding

Understand that what you’re hearing may not be easy to take in. Avoid knee-jerk reactions and focus on the content. Can it feel like a gut punch when you find out what you thought was fine isn’t actually OK? Absolutely. But, actively listening to what your team has to say helps your business grow and make positive changes.

3. Build Strong Work Teams
Employee relationships are the backbone of a strong team. Strong teams can lead to company loyalty, increased productivity, and satisfied employees. To build strong work teams, you need to emphasize the importance of relationships.

To strengthen your team, encourage them to build channels on your messenger apps (e.g., Slack) to talk throughout the day. You have plenty of other options, too, like video calls, emails, and team events (I’ll touch on that later). Whether six feet apart in the office or in their homes, encourage employees to keep communicating and collaborating with one another to build strong relationships.

In addition to making sure your team is talking, you can also give recognition and appreciation to your team for a job well done and be transparent with your co-workers at all times.

4. Create Opportunities For Social Connection
How the heck do you create opportunities for social connection in a post-COVID world where everyone is six feet apart? It’s pretty simple. Organize activities where everyone can participate. Here are some ideas:

  • Digital or in-person coffee breaks
  • Video call classes (cookie decorating and salsa dancing were big hits at my business!)
  • Interdepartmental competitions to encourage health and wellness
  • Socially distanced gatherings and events
  • Team-building activities

Get your HR team involved in planning and organizing activities that bring your employees together even when they may be physically apart. Social connections may be down, but that’s not an excuse to let them stay that way. And, employees who connect do what? They communicate.

Activities do not have to be expensive or lavish, but they do have to be ones that get your employees excited to participate. Social connection opportunities do not have to be related to the work your employees do. Instead, plan non-work-centric functions that give your team a chance to bond with and relate to each other.

Post-COVID, we all wish for a little more connection with others and maybe a tad less WiFi connection. So, find some ways to encourage workplace relationships that work for you and your team. After all, a team that has happy working relationships is a team that works together for success.

Leave a Reply

Translate »
Skip to content