The company that I’ve been working from went 100% remote back in March, 2020, as a result of COVID-19. As a company that started with no work-from-home policy, I spent a year and a half going into the office, grabbing lunch with my coworkers, and sitting in the company of my peers for eight hours daily. These eight hours per day weren’t allocated simply for productivity, they gave each of us a chance to connect with each other. You should never underestimate the importance of getting along with your coworkers. After all, you’ll likely spend more time with them than your family during working life (when we exclude sleeping time). One thing that has made me think about this recently is a new opportunity, starting at a 100% remote company.
I’ll preface this bit by saying that I’m very much the type of person who prefers interacting with people in-person. Socializing online has never been my strong point, and COVID-19 has exacerbated that fact for me. It’s not so bad if it’s supplementary to something else, such as texting your friends when you’re bored, but it sucks when it’s your only means of communicating with someone. Zoom calls are particularly bad for this. More and more social interactions are forced online, in a setting that people are still unfamiliar or uncomfortable with. While I was talking with a friend, she expressed her frustrations towards getting to know someone in your remote workplace. What do you do? Message them on Slack out of the blue? Try to get close to them in prescribed Zoom calls where there are ten people just sitting around on mute? Or in one-on-one calls between different members on the team? What fails to be captured here is the spontaneity and impromptu nature that friendships and dialogue form. Opportunities to socialize present themselves in organic ways, and people are accustomed to taking advantage of these situations. In a remote company, there’s just no similar way of easily breaking the ice with strangers; in-person, all you have to do is get up for a cup of coffee.
One thing I’m definitely worried about while switching companies is how difficult it will be for me to connect with my future coworkers. People, to me, are the most important people in any workplace. I also worry about the people that I’m leaving behind, since I know that it’s sad to no longer see the people you care about as frequently as you’d like. What’s ultimately important is to cherish the time that you do have with the people you care about, and to look forward towards meeting new people to grow alongside.