Five Ways to Connect With Colleagues—Without More Screen Time

By / Mar 10, 2021 Postcards can be one way to make a connection without a laptop. (Jelena Lapina/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Employees battling Zoom fatigue? In the age of remote work, there are still ways to bring coworkers together without a computer.

For the past year, organizations have worked to find new and creative ways to connect coworkers virtually. The primary solution has been video calls and virtual events, but professionals are getting enough screen time as it is during the workday—too much, in fact. According to a recent survey of 2,000 Americans conducted by OnePoll, on behalf of Foster Grant, the increase in screen time during the pandemic is leading to burnout.

So how can remote employees connect without adding to the burnout? Consider these ideas.

Start a Postcard Exchange

Almost all communication is virtual these days, so a physical, handwritten note can offer a refreshing way to communicate. If your employees are spread out across multiple locations, ask them to join a postcard exchange in which coworkers write postcards to one another. They take only a minute to write, and employees get to learn a little more about each other.

Concerned about employee privacy? You can organize a postcard exchange centrally through your HR department to keep home addresses hidden.

Create Something Together

Send staffers an easy-to-complete kit that results in a finished product—anything from coasters to fortune cookies to hot sauce. Employees can complete them on their own, then share their work in a group chat or on the next video call.

Make Actual Phone Calls

Part of what makes screen time draining is … the screen. One-on-one phone calls can bring the same connection, minus the impetus to “perform.” Although face-to-face communication is important, it can be draining in a virtual setting. Opt for one less video call by turning a regular meeting, such as a weekly check-in with your manager, into an audio-only call.

Send a Care Package

Organizations can connect with their employees by sending a physical care package with some goodies and a written message that lets them know that the organization appreciates their contributions during a turbulent time.

If you want employees to connect with each other more directly, treat care packages like a secret Santa exchange and assign a recipient to each employee, who then puts together his or her own custom box. Once all care packages are sent, schedule a call with all employees to reveal who sent each package.

Plan Activities Over the Phone

Employees can bring back the casual camaraderie of office life by reinstating some office traditions—this time, over the phone.

For example, two coworkers who used to enjoy the occasional walk together can set up a 10-minute call during which they go for separate walks at the same time and talk on the phone. It’s a simple way to mimic an impromptu stroll you might take with a coworker when stepping out of the office for coffee. For an added connection, you can both describe what you’re seeing outside as you walk.

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