For many people, coworkers are their main source of daily human interaction. But with the coronavirus disrupting daily life, including by sending millions home to work remotely for the foreseeable future, office workers across the country are having to navigate new ways of connecting with colleagues they no longer see in-person every day.
And in a time of social distancing, coworkers are quickly becoming an outlet for people to discuss coronavirus-related fears and stress, says Brie Weiler Reynolds, career development manager at FlexJobs, a remote-work career site.
“It’s hard for people to focus on work if they have these thoughts about what they need to do to prepare personally,” Weiler Reynolds tells CNBC Make It; finding reassurance from colleagues can help them adjust to a new way of living and working.
Managers should dedicate time during the work day to allow workers to connect, share ideas and provide support over personal matters during the pandemic, says Jason Fried, CEO of the project management company Basecamp. That could mean scheduling a daily check-in or replacing an existing meeting to touch base with one another.
“I would like to see work give up a little bit of time to life,” Fried says. “To me, that’s more in the spirit of what we need right now.”
As important as it is for people to discuss how they’re feeling, colleagues are also finding new ways to socialize and re-introduce some normalcy into the day.