By Jessi Burg
We all have a story about the spring of 2020. As humans, we crave connection, and suddenly we were home indefinitely with our housemates (if we had them). Some of us liked it, most of us did not. So we did a very human thing and adapted.
Everything went virtual and we had a plethora of online events to choose from. You could attend networking events, trivia nights, and support groups from the comfort of your couch. Working from home was tough as people scrambled to create home offices, but at the same time, we normalized seeing kids and pets in the background.
Two years later, we’ve proved that many jobs can be done remotely. We know you can make meaningful connections with your coworkers regardless of your office location. And if you live in a rural area, you probably appreciate the ease of scheduling meetings without having to figure out a meeting spot between your respective towns.
So how do we retain the good parts of our virtual life, while going back out into the world? Here are a few suggestions:
- Continue holding virtual meetings. There’s been an abundance of video conferencing platforms that have emerged. Zoom is great for small groups, but we’ve also seen platforms that try to replicate large events. Wonder.me lets you create tables; ohyay.co helps you build custom rooms. Meeting virtually makes it easier for people with busy schedules or limited transportation to attend your event or schedule a meeting.
- Reach out to your connections. Most of us have made new friends over the last two years, and they may or may not be in your area. Do you want to have virtual coffee together every so often? Plan to meet in person for a conference or event? Exchange birthday cards? Talking about how you want to stay connected will help smooth out the transition.
- Host or attend virtual coworking or networking events. For some people, the shift to remote work is permanent. As we all know, working remotely can be lonely. So find an online group that you can attend regularly, just like you would an in-person group. If you’re thinking about starting one, my favorite platform is Preciate. Though their rooms can hold up to 300 people, you can only hear the ones your avatar is close to – so it’s more like real life.
- Talk to your organization about accessibility. We talk a lot about how virtual meetings decrease travel times, but they also make it easier for people who can’t travel for whatever reason. What are some ways your workplace or social group can continue to include these voices in your communities?
- Take a sick day. No really, do it. If there is one lingering impact of a two year pandemic, please let it be that we don’t have to come to work when we’re ill. Normalize staying home and getting better.
Everyone is excited that we’re finally “getting back to normal.” Personally, I love that my dog is allowed back into my local brewery. More important though: I’m eagerly awaiting the day when I can finally meet the friends I’ve been making virtually.
Jessi Burg, founder of Outgrow Your Garage, has spent her entire career in seasonal industries. From outdoor education to landscaping, she brings a unique perspective to business organization. She started teaching her strategies after earning a reputation for meaningful staff engagement and values-driven culture. This passion for helping other businesses achieve their goals gave rise to Outgrow Your Garage, a business learning community focused on trades and services.