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It has been well over a year since organizations across multiple industries adapted their policies and pivoted to some version of a socially distanced workplace. Words like "remote work, telecommuting, WFH, hoteling and flexible hybrid work models"  flooded the professional lexicon.  

While we avoid commute times and work from just about anywhere, many of us find ourselves seeking human connection and camaraderie with our teammates. As organizations begin to solidify long-term plans for more flexible workplaces, how do we benefit from these newly created policies while ensuring the needs we once received in person are being met from behind our screens? Socialization, concentration, and identification offer ways to do just that.  


Traditional in-person workplace settings are full of opportunities for socialization. Teammates gather around the coffee station on Monday mornings catching up on the weekend's barbecue or party. Departments celebrate birthdays with bagels or team lunches. Although remote work changes the type of social interaction, promoting these events beyond the screen helps to encourage workplace culture and bring teams together. 

Take time to communicate about non-work-related topics. Have a virtual coffee chat or happy hour. We live in the age of back-to-back meetings and tight agendas. What if the first five minutes of your meeting is spent catching up with a teammate you have not "seen" in weeks? What if five minutes turns into fifteen? Sure, you may not cover every item on your agenda, and you may have to schedule a follow up to complete the task at hand. However, you will walk away with a deeper sense of connection to your team. That connection will keep you and your team refreshed, eager and promote a willingness to engage with one another from behind the screen.  


Patrick wakes up, grabs his coffee and sets himself up in his home office. He looks at his task list and logs in to his first video call for the day. Soon after, he finds himself wandering to his other screen, responding to instant messages and slowly working through his email inbox. He is multitasking right? If only it were that easy. 

In fact, approximately only 2.5% of the population are truly able to multitask. Most of us are not lucky enough to be counted in that elite cohort and must accept the fact that we are lowly mono-taskers. Whatever we might like to think, working from home does not increase our ability to multitask. The reality is, when we think we are conquering our to-do lists while joining calls and updating budgets, we are missing key information from our call or entering the wrong data into our budget. In the moment we feel we can tackle it all, but the truth is, we are not nearly as efficient. 

Of course, things will come up and you will feel it necessary to respond to a message while listening in on a status call. These scenarios should be the exception to the rule. Completing individual tasks from start to finish will ensure the task is completed with less error and your undivided attention, teammates and clients will sense your awareness and commitment to the current moment and you will work through your to-do list with greater efficiency and satisfaction.  


Are you sensing an edge in the voice of a teammate, questioning a decision or needing to decompress yourself? These are completely normal thoughts and emotions, and it is important to identify and recognize them in yourself and others. We all have those days and encounter tricky situations, made even harder sometimes by the ambiguity digital communication may introduce.  

Identifying these situations and approaching them with empathy allows us to give both ourselves and our teammates grace and respect as we navigate the digital workplace. Empathy promotes understanding and understanding builds stronger cohesive teams who care for one another and weather all storms. 

These suggestions come from the belly of the beast of a team that believes in human-centered technology. In everything we do, we consider empathy and individual, personal friction points and then raise technology up to answer whatever the challenge may be. We use socialization, concentration and identification to promote a better experience behind the screen and a greater partnership in front of clients.