#StayAtHome – 5 ways to network in your home office

In Employee networking, Innovation, Internal communications, Leadership, Self-organisation by Charlotte Volk

Maybe you are sitting at your desk, the kitchen table, or perhaps even in bed? Covid-19 has created a new normal where everybody stays at home as much as possible. When you first switched to working from home, the idea may have sounded quite appealing for the first few weeks. However, many people have found it more and more challenging to maintain any form of a normal social life, especially for those who work with their colleagues virtually. The small talk and relaxed chats, meant to relieve the everyday tension of the workspace, have become a thing of the past. This is we here at Mystery Minds have created some opportunities for you to stay connected, improve personal interactions in this new contactless and virtual office environment whether you are an employee or a manager, whether you work for a startup or a big company.

1. Daily Good Morning – Daily Notice Board + Good News of the Day

In the digital era most of us have access to an inexhaustible source of knowledge. However, sorting through this knowledge for relevant and useful information can be quite difficult. Multiple distinctions must be made, between information that is vital for today’s work, information that could possibly negatively affect a person, etc. For instance, unignorable but scary news and or statistics.

To help process this information, one useful tool that many people use in the workplace are daily emails or messages to all employees with the latest information. Possible changes and relevant topics that concern the organization and need to be considered for the future are shared. Short, pinpointed updates are easier to absorb and help alleviate the daily flood of information. It is important to be open and honest with your coworkers when it comes to what is happening in the company and in the world. However, updates do not have to be entirely bleak.

A great tip is to add a “Good News of the Day” section to your messages every day, be it the professional or personal success of a colleague, or funny pictures or videos. The day can then begin positively and with a smile on everyone’s faces.

2. Who Am I and Why? – Maintaining Company Culture

No posters and company flyers to remind everyone about they should be working on? The to-do lists are growing, and the calendar is getting packed?

Especially as a manager, it is essential to convey what needs to be done, and at the same time, create a sense of community to your employees and colleagues that promote active cooperation. In doing so, the company´s core values and mission statements must be refreshed regularly to convey the proper ‘mindset’. A company can boost morale with concrete goals and strong role models – with everyone working toward a common goal.

3. Communication is Key – Networking and Being Together

In personal communication, face-to-face conversation can be significantly more effective and influential than a phone call, not to mention chat or email. Since communication relies mostly on non-verbal cues and gestures, misunderstandings and confusion can quickly arise through virtual communication. Even though a video may not have the same impact of actually meeting someone else in person, it is still the second-best solution. However, just like with any meeting, attention must also be paid to the length of the call to reduce fatigue. If video conferencing is a thorn in your side, funny backgrounds and group breaks can help shake things up a little bit and keep the meetings on track and effective.  Short brainstorming rounds, interesting questions, or funny games loosen up the mood, and reduce the dread of the next video meeting.

4. Connect Two! – Connect Colleagues Together as Partners

No longer are the days when we can sit next to our favorite colleagues from marketing or IT. Now our seat neighbors are 3 empty cups of coffee, our pet, our spouse, and of course our trusty laptop. It is important to find ways to actively recreate these missing connections, and to be acknowledged for the work and successes we have achieved. One way to do this can be carried out is by connecting two colleagues together as partners who can monitor and praise each other. This may prevent procrastination and promote stronger motivation and aspiration.

This can be achieved in practice by a specially introduced channel or group chat for all employees, where people can exchange compliments and thanks to valued partners and colleagues.

5. Talk, Talk, Talk! –Create Rituals for Good Cooperation

Why crack a beer at the end of the day, or bring the happy hour from the bar into the living room? Before you start talking to yourself in your home office, perhaps direct communication with colleagues is a better way to maintain some level of social interaction in your life. Casual conversations in the office kitchen or over lunch have been important components of good relationship building and bonding with colleagues. We quickly miss or entirely lose those personal and social interactions in the home office. Therefore, it is important to find ways where you can make time to exchange ideas and spend time together in a relaxed manner. The advantages of such casual conversations are numerous; getting to know new (or even old) colleagues, stimulating innovation and creativity, and breaking down the solo mentality. This is what Virtual Mystery Coffee is all about. Simply register with your work email address and be matched every week with a colleague from your own company or other people around the world. The smart algorithm will find the right partner for a coffee break or lunch. Only a short amount of time is required (about 15 – 30 minutes per week), but the effect is potent. You can register here: www.mysterycoffee.com