Welcome to Consult a Coach, our regular careers clinic for Bazaar readers. Send us your work dilemmas, and we’ll ask our career agony aunt – the industry professional, executive coach and motivational speaker Jo Glynn-Smith – to answer it.
Here, Jo advises a reader on how to connect with colleagues while working remotely.
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Ever since I started working remotely, I have been feeling increasingly isolated. This hasn’t been helped by an incredibly busy period right before the end of last year, during which it felt like I saw no one. As a result, I don’t seem to be able to network nearly as much as I used to and when I do, I feel I’ve lost my mojo. Do you have any advice for how I can reconnect with people?
This is a very common issue and an important one to discuss, so thank you for sharing your concerns – you are most definitely not alone.
Connection is one of our most important human needs. Without it, we can feel isolated, excluded, demotivated and much less happy. The transition to more remote working over the past three years has had many positives: savings on travel time and costs, more flexibility, and more affordable living locations among them. The downside, however, is that we no longer benefit from the structure, energy and connection you get from working with a team or being part of an office community, and this is having a negative impact on our confidence, wellbeing and mental health. In my coaching sessions I am seeing a worrying trend of people – especially younger employees – feeling less included, more anxious and more sedentary. Ultimately, they become less productive. They need to connect more ‘IRL’.
If you’re working for yourself or for a company that isn't providing networking opportunities or official ‘office days’, then it’s up to you to make it happen. Sadly, most of us have got out of the habit of meeting up (and dressing up) socially and professionally – it all feels like far too much effort. But, like everything else, it’s just something that needs to be prioritised.
Here are some tips to help you reconnect in style...
1/ Start small
Make a few plans with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Do something fun that means you can get dressed up a little, or at least enough that you're differentiating from what you wear every day at home. Reconnect with the clothes that always made you feel great before; clothing is one of the most powerful tools for boosting confidence, so if you look good, you’ll feel ready for anything.
2/ Meet contacts in person
Organise a few of your work meetings face-to-face. This will feel like a lot of effort at first, but I guarantee you will get so much out of them and feel more energised afterwards. I often do mine as walking meetings, so that we can both benefit from some exercise as well.
3/ Seek out connection
Find out what’s going on that might interest you. From professional networking events to talks or debates, there’s always something happening and it's great way to feel immediately connected. If you’re nervous, take a friend and make a night of it.
4/ Be proactive
Don’t wait to be asked. Most people are struggling with the very same issue as you are, so step into the arena and make it happen for both you and them. Have fun organising a schedule of meetings and events so that you have things to look forward to and people to connect with.
5/ Exercise with a group
Join a park run, sign up for a class or train in team – group exercise is way more fun than doing it solo and there’s nothing like bonding over burpees!
Jo Glynn-Smith is a transformation coach, speaker and personal-brand expert from London who works with leaders, entrepreneurs and businesses to help maximise their team or individual potential. Before becoming a coach, she spent most of her career in the fashion industry working at the highest level with some of the biggest global brands. You can follow Jo for more coaching tips and advice on Instagram (@jojoglynnsmith) or visit her website, joglynnsmith.com.
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