As “connected” as we may be these days, we can also feel incredibly lonely and disconnected. This has become even more apparent for the general population at large during the coronavirus pandemic, as so many people are thrown into an unfamiliar situation: staying home for days on end without the “usual” human contact they’d get from the office, school, shopping, restaurants, and all the rest of it.
Whether you’re new to working from home or you’ve been doing it for some time in some capacity or another, it can still feel difficult to get the same kind of human connection that you would have with face-to-face interactions. Even if you’re an introvert, you still yearn to talk to someone every now and then. Humans are social animals at heart. So, how can you feel more connected while simultaneously staying physically apart?
Video Chat and Virtual Hangouts
Now, I obviously don’t know about you, your individual preferences, and your particular circumstances. But, for me, I generally prefer text-based communication (like email and instant messengers) or talking with someone else in-person. Everything in between can make me feel a little uncomfortable. Phone calls are the worst.
At the same time, I also recognize that relying completely on text-based (and emoji/GIF based) communication has its limitations, of course. And particularly when we find ourselves working from home “under quarantine” or practicing social distancing, meeting in real life isn’t a great idea either. Nor is it practical when some of your best friends and colleagues live in different cities (or countries).
On some level, it’s a bit of a stop-gap measure. On another level, it’ll just have to do. Video chat, video calls and video conferences have exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 crisis. Zoom has been the big winner out of all of this, as people are using it for work, school and even social calls. If you don’t have Zoom or don’t want to use it, there are plenty of other options. Google Hangouts/Duo, Facetime, WhatsApp video calls… the list goes on.
Would You Like to Play a Game?
I also get it. Video calls can still feel incredibly awkward, especially when compared to the face-to-face interactions we’re used to having. What’s the missing element, aside from the in-person engagement? For me, whenever I meet with someone in real life, we’re usually doing something together and not just talking.
So, when those Zoom calls start to feel a little awkward, you may find that forging a real human connection through a shared activity can be much more effective. Games are great for this. If you’re already really into games like Street Fighter or League of Legends, there are already big online communities for that, including many big-time Twitch streamers. But, what if you’re not a big gamer?
More casual titles can be equally effective. Animal Crossing can be a lot of fun, especially if you set up a video call with your friend (in real life) while you visit their island (in the game). Staying connected via Words With Friends has been good too. Or, set up a video call and enjoy a virtual card night with your pals via a site like PlayingCards.io. It’ll synchronize the movements across users and screens, letting you play any game with a standard 52-card deck.
Facebook Groups and Meetups
As long as social distancing and self-isolation continue to be a part of everyday life, in-person meetups probably aren’t going to happen any time soon. But, it’s important to keep those kinds of ideas in mind for when they are safe again.
Dot Com Pho, as I’ve mentioned before, is where I first met John Chow way back in 2006 and it’s through that casual weekly lunch that I met a lot of current blogger and Internet marketing type friends. You might find similar type groups on Meetup.com.
Another huge source of both social interaction and real human connection for me has been through Facebook groups. I’m a member of a few groups, like those for YouTubers and local bloggers, and it’s been a great way to connect with people who really understand what we’re all doing. We all learn from one another and, when we see each other at the same kinds of media events (when those happen again), we’re already at a certain comfort level with one another.
You Are Not Alone
A line that I heard many years ago in the context of coworking that bears repeating today in this age of social distancing and working from home: Just because you work for yourself doesn’t mean you need to work by yourself. Even if you’re only “remote working” temporarily or this “work from home” thing is just a side hustle for you, the mantra still holds true.
You don’t have to go at this alone, nor should you. Find your people, connect on a real human level and not just a superficial exchange of links, and you’ll find that you’ll be both more productive and happier doing what you do.