Connections dominated our old work worlds. The people at desks and offices around us. The in-person meetings. The lunch breaks and clear-the-head walks with work friends. Many of us spent a third or more of each weekday with our colleagues. Connection happened, and it improved our lives. We are hard-wired as a species to feel one another’s energy.
For many people, COVID diminished the volume and quality of connections. I tell leaders that while the chance encounters in the hallway might not happen, online meetings do. Same with phone and one-on-one online conversations. Those encounters are an opportunity to deepen connections.
I urge leaders to begin every meeting and conversation with a conscious, deeper check-in. Rather than just passing through niceties in 30 seconds and then pivoting to business, I strongly encourage leaders to open up space for more profound conversations. Ask colleagues about their weekends, their loved ones, their dogs. Try to make remote interactions so welcoming that employees feel free to talk about their poor sleep last night, their melancholy about being homebound, their yearning for gathering in restaurants again. If they enjoyed a fabulous hike a few days ago, let them know you want to hear about it. Invite people to share their challenges and their joys. It takes a bit more time, but it makes a big difference.