COVID: No Coffee No Conversation. And beyond.

COVID: No Coffee No Conversation. And beyond.

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Look around and you would know that an average working professional spends more time at his/her job than any other activity.

Post pandemic?

Your best friend is not your kitchen or the newspaper or even your Netflix account but your computer screen which has you looking at it for more time than your office hours require.

Also, who is giving you company while you’re working remotely?

Your mother asking her to help you with the house, your needy child or your also remotely working spouse?

We assumed in the start of this pandemic that this is what we ALWAYS wanted, there were even messages being circulated which said “Enjoy this long holiday in the comfort of your home!” and we thought to ourselves, “Wow, what a great opportunity to spend time with your family!”.

Soon after came the reality of our economy slowly dropping and our boss’s expectations slowly rising. It hit us that the comfort of just logging into work in your pajamas attending to current memes was not how life was going to look like ahead.

The pandemic caught the best of us and it led to us realizing the importance of workplaces much more than we did before.

Not only did we try to increase work productivity while handling additional household responsibilities but also tried to maintain a work life balance, prioritize our work and at the same time feel liberated. But how long, how long can one really love the flexibility and comfort of working from your home?

That saturation level had to hit roof sooner or later and you were going to realize how you’d miss office sometimes.

You also would realize the importance of a water cooler conversation with a colleague, the post lunch cup of tea to discuss the upcoming party place and or even just the time you get away from your roommate or your family for a bit.

By now you have accepted two things, first, working from home is unavoidable because so is the virus and second you miss office! Because at office you could draw the line between work and home and also not miss out on your healthy social interactions.

Although majority of organizations have revamped their existing work processes in a way to suit remote working, how social interactions can be supported is not so clear.

A drop in the feeling of community amongst employees has been found since they started working from home and why shouldn’t they, many of us have felt isolated while working remotely.

In fact, millennials, who make up the largest segment of the workforce, are the loneliest generation.

And I for one, think leadership teams and managers could be the ones who are responsible to mitigate workplace isolation.

For one, they can, send out coffee break invites with meeting invites. This would help in increased engagement and less stress amongst employees. Work relationships are more than just getting along with your colleague and while the devil’s advocate would say, “I’m here to work, not to make friends,” it is equally vital for organizations and managers to understand just how important social connections in the workplace really are.

Secondly, some of us might find remote working tougher because our best world is out there. Some might be living alone which makes social interaction even more important and just an informal chat could make things so much better for us. It could even be an informal chat group to facilitate exchange of ideas and thoughts for work.

Third, happiness expert Annie McKee, author of How To Be Happy At Work, wrote, “one of the ways we can make ourselves happy and feel more fulfilled in our workplaces is to build friendships with the people that work with us, work for us and even with our boss.”

How many of us are friends or even really have conversations out of work with our boss?

I can say not many but trust me when I say this, these are the conversations that will help you and your boss whenever the crisis strikes.

Fourth, felt a sense of belongingness with your teammates?

Well I must say, it’s when employees have fun together, they feel more involved than they do when they’re working. Well the manager has to be always approachable no doubt and then he/she can take up some fun initiatives that make his/her employees push the brake.

Lastly, why don’t we stop taking work calls after work time and focus on ourselves?

Spoken about it a lot but has either of us ever been able to actually implement it? I think it’s high time we gave time to ourselves. This gives time away from the laptop to not just socially interact and feel better about workspaces but also focus on mental health while being in this pandemic.


–By Sonakshi Gurbaxani

Authors bio:

A commerce and law graduate, I am Sonakshi Gurbaxani, pursuing my PGDM in E-Business from Welingkar Institute of Management, Development & Research, Bangalore. After a couple of internships with HR firms and HR management groups, I’ve realized I would love to get into the corporate world with a job that manages people and relationships because happier people mean happier results.

Achievements include winner certificates from IIM Sirmaur and SRCC for HR and entrepreneurial based competitions.

Also, I as an individual strongly try to be what I want to see in others while believing that empathy is a strong trait that should be possessed. My guitar is my go to and anchoring and writing blogs are hobbies I am learning the art of.

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