Working from home is the ideal setup for more and more professionals around the country. Flex scheduling can make it easier to balance personal and professional obligations while also allowing people to work at their peak performance hours. However, with those benefits can there are some obvious downfalls. One that seems to come up more and more when asking a remote employee about working from home is the lack of adult interaction. The adult interaction I am referring to here is the comradery that develops in the office. The quick lunches, the happy hours, the co-worker that knows your coffee order by heart, and those that work alongside you and know you better than anyone else in your life at times.
If you are missing these things while working from your local coffee shop or home office, consider the following two things to increase interactions: Skype and Travel.
Skype. There are so many times that I have been working on a project with a co-worker, and we send e-mails back and forth hundreds of times giving updates. Or we work off of interactive documents and follow each other’s progress, only exchanging thoughts in the comment sections. You know what is a lot easier? Talking to them on skype and having it pulled up on the screen. This helps with two things. One, it can decrease the number of times the document gets sent back and forth because you can be working together while looking at the same thing. Two, it allows for some side chatter, which is what is missing from the office. While loading different documents and doing simple edits, you can chat with the person behind the e-mail address! This can give you a sense of who they are both professionally and personally, if they wish.
Travel. While this is not feasible for all companies, if you are an employee that works remotely but travels for work, it is worth considering. If there is any way that you and a co-worker that you work on a lot of virtual projects with can end up on the same business trip, it can work wonders for team connections. Having that face to face time, even if just for a few dinners after work, can really help remote employees feel that they know and can talk to their co-workers.
At the end of the day, we all have reasons for choosing the work environment we are in. None are perfect, but all can be made better so don’t forget to look for, and suggest, ways to improve your remote lifestyle!