by Dan Lothringer, Contributing Writer, LifeSize
Working from home has a lot of great advantages. It allows you to spend more time with your family (instead of sitting in traffic), set your own schedule and work in the comforts of your own house. Unfortunately, for some employees, the transition from working in an office to working from home can be somewhat challenging, as the physical separation from coworkers can be a bit of a culture shock. The trick to a seamless adjustment to the work-from-home lifestyle is to intelligently use technology and a little effort to stay in touch with the office and your fellow employees even when you’re not physically there.
Sociological research has shown that, as social animals, humans experience mental and emotional health benefits from strong social connections. When these connections are severed, loneliness and associated health risks can set in. Fortunately, modern technology makes it incredibly easy to stay connected with the office and your fellow employees, keeping you plugged in while boosting your happiness levels.
One of the easiest and least expensive ways to stay connected with your office is to use an instant-messaging program. This form of communication helps you communicate instantaneously with other employees and replicate the off-the-cuff quality of in-person chatting. You don’t even have to talk about work as a pretext; healthy interpersonal relationships build a sense of trust and encourage hard work, both things successful companies work to encourage.
Video conferencing kicks this up a notch, because it enables real, nuanced communication. Social psychologists believe as much as two-thirds of communication is nonverbal, and video chats prevent important things from being lost in translation. With new cloud-based video platforms, like LifeSize Connections, having a video call is just as convenient as a quick IM chat, and facilitates a sense of closeness and realism in the conversation.
While instant messages, video chats, and other UC tools are great ways to stay connected with colleagues, real-world interactions are important, as well. Try scheduling lunches or coffee runs with your fellow employees if you live nearby. If you don’t, you could consider weekend get-togethers: dinners, group excursions or other fun, team-building events. Keeping yourself close to your coworkers keeps you more invested in the company and that passion will translate positively in your work.
The important thing to keep in mind is that interpersonal relationships – working ones included – require effort to maintain. “Social capital” is a term sociologists use to describe the value of social relations, including their ability to power economic results. Simply put, it is strong relationships and their networks of trust that allow businesses to succeed. Though it may be more difficult to maintain those relationships while you’re working from home, a little bit of effort can increase your job satisfaction, your happiness and the quality of work you submit. It’s win-win-win.