As the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out across the UK, a sense of what we might call normality is rapidly approaching. And many employers and employees are looking forward to returning to the office as soon as possible. If only to break the monotony of being in the same place […]
The outcome of a 15-day study of the impact that small talk had on 151 workers shows that it was both uplifting and distracting to employees. But the positives outweighed the negatives, and the negatives could be managed.
The move to remote work environment is cutting many people off from workplace small talk. And these are people who before Covid-19 and social distancing, had small talk as a daily workplace ritual.
Small talk is important to us in other ways, putting us at ease and helping us transition to more serious topics like negotiations, job interviews, sales pitches, and performance evaluations. This is the period that Adam Fraser also called ‘The Third Space”(read: A Simple Trick to Manage Working From Home and Worklife).
The daily workplace ritual – small talks! It seems like a nuisance when overly available, but you hardly feel its importance until you lose it. They are the few minutes emotional connection and encounters that brings life into work. Exchanged hellos on our way in, from the parking lot. Chatting about our weekends while waiting for meetings to begin, and swapped stories about our families with our cube mates.
But when it is negative, small talks can make others anxious, awkward, can be a time waster and vehicle for spreading gossips, and everything that is inauthentic.
With remote working, we need to encourage new social rituals like allowing time at the start of every meeting for members to greet one another, exchange pleasantries, and ask playful questions. So do not forget, remote workers need small talk, too.