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Remote Workers Need Small Talk, Too

6 Mins read

Small talk is something many of us miss about going into the office, and for good reason: It helps people feel emotionally connected and boosts collaboration and creativity. And some remote workers who desperately need small talk are missing out. Yet not everyone is a fan.

Some think small talk is inauthentic and a waste of time. However, conversations didn’t have to be intimate or lengthy to deliver benefits.  […]

Welcome to Worklifefeed Quick Excerpts. Go to https://www.hbr.org to view the full article on Remote Workers Need Small Talk, Too. The article authors that did the 15-day study are Jessica R. Methot, Allison S. Gabriel, Patrick Downes, and Emily Rosado-Solomon

NOTES: Remote Workers Need Small Talk, Too

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.



Related

3 Myths About Disengaged Employees That Every Manager Needs to Know

Rather than see disengaged employees as a threat, employers should view them as an opportunity to identify what’s not working. The reality is, disengaged employees are obvious signs that there are unaddressed issues within the workplace.

A disengaged employee will most likely not be participating in company activities, events and conversations. There will be decrease in productivity since the employee will be doing the barest minimum. The quality of the little work that is done will keep dropping, while deadlines are missed. The employee by now is obviously apathetic, cynical, lacks enthusiasm and initiative. Soon, it becomes difficult to lay a hold on his or her whereabout because of frequent absenteeism, tardiness and check out. Before finally checking out of the company.

The 3 Myths About Disengaged Employees

Below are the three common myths that will help managers better understand what leads to employee disengagement.

Disengaged Employees Are Lazy And Bad Employees. Not every disengaged employee is a poor performing one and not all happy employees are engaged. Employees become disengaged when they don’t feel like they’re setup for success.

“Employee disengagement is something that builds up over time. It’s a culmination of lots of small events that leads to a change in attitude and mindset.”

– Suzie Finch (The Career Improvement Club)

It’s HR’s Job To Fix Employee Disengagement. Both management and leadership, through communication, can keep everyone in the loop of where the company is at the moment, and where it is going. While HR is responsible for employee engagement at a macro level, managers are responsible for it at a micro level – maximizing their one-on-ones.

It’s Easy To Re-Engage A Disengaged Employee. To re-engage disengaged employees, you have to address and solve the problem. So the question is, why create the problem in the first place? And again, when the problem is solved, the employee has to trust that it won’t happen again.

Disengagement isn’t a one time incident. It’s a series of triggers that happen over time, especially when the path to success is no longer visible. And it is just one of those ways how the pandemic has impacted on us as individuals, our work, work-life and our work-life balance.


Tips On How To Be Happier At Work By LinkedIn Coach

The COVID pandemic has given employees an opportunity to rethink what they want out of life. Employees are eager to find meaning in their work and are willing to switch jobs to find it.

During COVID, our life has been a crisis situation, which makes job fulfillment even harder. People are realizing what’s really important and looking at their career and asking, ‘Is this all there is?’


Our Uneasy Love Intimacy With Work In a Pandemic

Our government could have paid people to stop working and stay home, where they could not catch the virus. They did not. Instead, they told service workers they were essential and sent some of them out to risk their lives working.

“This is the life that could not stop working. Even when everything else stopped working, and despite everything else going crazy, we prioritized work. Our love, our life; the love of our life.”

We were forced to choose between our health and our jobs. Most of us chose our jobs. And when companies shut down and jobs vanished, the unemployed among us had to pry vanishingly tiny benefits or go out and find new jobs.

Those of us who were lucky enough to have jobs that could be done from home, brought our work into our living rooms, our kitchens, and our bedrooms. We challenged ourselves to meet and even exceed our pre-pandemic goals, against unfavorable odds. Despite everything, we prioritized work.

We have treated work as something to be taken home and cherished. Work became our lover. And this year, we took it to bed.

In year 2011, Melissa Gregg published a three-year ethnographic study of the professional lives of a group of knowledge workers in Brisbane, Australia. It was titled, Work’s Intimacy. Gregg’s study found that as mobile technologies like laptops and smartphones and wifi proliferated, and as jobs became more precarious and subject to mass layoffs, office workers had begun to experience their entire lives as work-centric.

An Identify and Culture Crisis That Fuels An Uneasy Love Intimacy With Work

There is an identify that our job gives us. For example, the joy of been seen as a competent and dedicated professional. Then our culture makes us disposed to spend our leisure hours thinking of work, and feeling obligated to it. Technology adds to it by providing an added incentive to just go ahead and do that work, no matter where we are or what time it is.

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If work is assessed as infidelity, it will score high. The time spent engaged in work-related tasks regularly rivaled or came at the expense of other experiences. We obsess over our jobs because we know we can’t count on them. So we keep thinking about them after we leave the office. And in the end, we find ourselves unable to get them out of our minds, like a bad boyfriend.

Withholding attention from our work and from our screens may make us feel guilty, as though we are somehow cheating. But that shouldn’t be surprising. We’ve been taught to treat work as a loved one. So turning our attention away from it, to other and more valued objects, would be a kind of adultery.

Work is not just in our homes all the time now. Work has very literally gone to bed with us. And work wants to have a serious talk about where this relationship is going. But we do not have to be trapped in an endless, stifling love affair with our own labor. We can build our lives around other things. Things that matter more to us – our loved ones, our communities, and the world in which we live.

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