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4 Fun Ways to Connect Remotely with Colleagues

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Remote work has become the new normal. As this has happened, a lot of us have had to figure out new day-to-day processes, and find ways to master the work-from-home routine. What we haven’t seemed to figure out as well, however, is how to connect remotely with colleagues.

The go-to option, of course, has been the now-dreaded video conference (typically via the now-dreaded Zoom!). While this sort of thing can be productive however — and does provide a means of virtual socialization — it doesn’t exactly seem to be drawing co-workers together. Indeed, even good friends who spent much of 2020 getting together on Zoom often wound up finding that it was somewhat tiresome.

This all begs the question of what we can do to connect with remote colleagues in a way that’s actually fun and beneficial. Naturally, any answers to said question may vary depending on the company and/or team involved. In general though, we have some suggestions for ways to connect virtually and actually have a bit of fun doing it.

1. MMOs

Some have had success turning to games as effective means of connecting virtually. And with respect to MMOs (massive-multiplayer online games), it’s actually not a new concept at all! Way back in 2009, when these sorts of games were hitting new peaks of popularity, they were discussed as team-building activities. And while we may not be in the golden age of MMOs anymore, there’s something to be said for returning to the idea. Typically built into fantasy or science fiction settings, these are games that allow players to set up character avatars, link up with other players, and fulfill quests and missions. If you’re not familiar with MMOs, you can think of them almost like virtual social networks that happen to involve fantasy worlds and challenges. For remote workers looking to connect with one another, they can be perfect. They provide the real-time socialization of Zoom sessions or conference calls, but with built-in recreation that helps people to unwind together.

2. Poker Games

Another gaming option with a tried-and-true track record of facilitating virtual connections is online poker! And lest you assume that phrase only refers to outlawed cash-game sites, we’d note that there are still sites for playing poker with friends without money on the line — and they’re perfectly legal and available. These sites (Americas Cardroom, 888Poker, and even Zynga on Facebook) enable players to link up at their own tables, basically providing virtual environments for social gameplay. It doesn’t have to be taken too seriously, and no one has to be a poker expert. But it’s another way to get together remotely with an activity at hand to help move things along and provide some amusement.

3. Words With Friends

Here we have one more gaming option, and one that seems oddly forgotten during an era in which digital connection is being so broadly emphasized. Back in the early days of smartphone gaming, Words With Friends — a multiplayer adaptation of Scrabble — was something of a viral hit. It’s not quite the same sensation today, but it is still available, and it provides a different kind of remote connection via gaming. Rather than having to be logged into a game with coworkers at a given time, Words With Friends allows you to maintain games and chats over time. You can have what are effectively ongoing Scrabble games with your colleagues such that there’s always a fun little thread of connection — without having to designate set chunks of time for it.

4. Book Clubs

It doesn’t all have to be about gaming, either! While different kinds of games provide some of the simplest and most enjoyable ways to connect without resorting to Zoom calls and forced “happy hours,” there are some other options as well. Chief among them is that of implementing a book club. It’s something people in offices have set up in the past as a means of building teams and keeping colleagues connected, and it’s an idea that has all the more value in remote working situations. The key is to make sure it doesn’t feel like more work. Decide on books together, keep the timelines for reading flexible, and keep the conversations casual. If you can do all of that, then reading the same books at the same time as your colleagues actually makes for a great way to build connections. Plus, a bit more reading never hurt anybody!

It remains the case that there are times for Zoom sessions and telephone conferences. On the social side of things, however — as you look to build and maintain remote connections with work teams — ideas like the ones suggested above tend to be more enjoyable and effective.

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