This is Part 2 of a 3 part series. If you missed it, check out Part 1 here!
Our social/emotional wellbeing may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we consider our work from home set up, but that doesn’t make it any less valuable to our productivity than our desk ergonomics. Humans are a connected species; even us introverts aren’t meant to be isolated all the time. Our interactions and connections with others have a valuable impact on our emotional health, our productivity, and our creativity.
Connecting with others is vital to maintaining our emotional wellbeing when working remotely and this doesn’t always necessarily mean setting up time for more zoom meetings or time for deep conversations. For instance, research shows that people believe that if they are silent with their seatmate on the bus, avoiding any unnecessary chitchat, then both people will be better off. However, according to the research, if people have a “nice weather we’re having” or “terrible weather we’re having” kind of interaction, both people actually report having a better day. Superficial social connection lets our brains know that the world makes some kind of sense and at least parts of it are safe. Given the current state of the world, many of us are not taking many bus rides, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find space for other superficial interaction: neighbors, delivery persons, or just standing in line at the store when we inevitably leave our home offices.
Socialization can also positively impact our productivity levels and allow teammates to form strong, trusting relationships. These relationships, in turn, provide space for us to share our mistakes and our ideas, which ultimately leads to creativity and innovation. In the office, socialization generally happens through spontaneous interactions, and while these can be difficult to replicate and maintain when working remotely, they’re not impossible.
We can be intentional when connecting with others by:
- Taking time to connect during the workday: using a portion of a break time or downtime to phone a friend or colleague and just check-in and say hi. If we need a break from work, asking for some space and permission to NOT talk about work during that time can be extra helpful, giving our brain some much needed rest time. As we recall from Part 1, taking those breaks and space from our work can help us get to those valuable “aha” moments.
- Normalizing conversations around mental health. Conversations regarding other aspects of our health have become much more popular over the past several decades, especially as trends evolve. We wouldn’t second guess sharing a delicious healthy recipe we tried or what kind of fitness we might be enjoying - kickboxing, Peloton, Crossfit - so how different is it then to ask about what our favorite tools are for managing day to day stress? I’ll start! Mine are walking my dog (and talking to her while I do it), strength training, meditation, and jigsaw puzzles. I never would have thought that jigsaw puzzles could be so relaxing until a former colleague mentioned them as a post-work unwind ritual and ... now I’m hooked. Having conversations about the healthy ways we support ourselves not only normalizes us supporting ourselves in healthy ways, it helps us share ideas that might be truly helpful for someone else.
- Another way to spark connection is for managers and leaders to offer support and mentoring while being purposeful in recognizing the contributions of individuals for work completed outside the office. When we instill value in the work itself and reinforce belief in a shared vision, we help to add a quality of fulfillment and purpose to our work. It can be easy to feel disconnected from the value of the work we do while working remotely, and this connection reinforces that value and purpose.
If you feel like your emotional health has taken a hit during this season of working from home, Wellview Mental Health Providers and Health Advisors are here to support you.
Click HERE to learn more about the Wellview services available to you. We can’t wait to work with you!