How Can We Effectively Support Our Colleagues In This Time?

There are some simple things we can all do to support each other.

In times of crisis, it’s worth thinking about first principles, like: How can we all support our colleagues during a pandemic? There are no end of news stories now about the psychological pressure of lockdown, of being isolated alone, and people of all ages traumatized by forced isolation and the unknown. Those who are single and living alone, healthcare workers, and children, are arguably the most affected; but so are we all in one way or another, with some of us losing jobs and businesses while we wait for the bans in our various countries, states, territories and provinces to lift.

There’s no question that each and every one of us is affected, the half of the global population currently in lockdown, and all of those not in lock down, many of whom have nowhere to be locked down, being as they are without home or a permanent home, or far away from home.

So, what can we do to support our colleagues during this time?

Here are some simple but powerful suggestions from people that I’ve asked:

Stay in touch with your workforce and executive team. If you never had them, or stopped having them, start those Monday morning meetings on your platform of choice. It’s a good idea to use the first 15 minutes to just check in with everyone to see how they’re doing, ask about their weekend, and take whatever comes. Offering an ear and warm words and suggestions in a group setting is a good way to start the week with morale much higher, and people feeling more connected, than if you don’t gather the troops on a Monday. It also shows leadership.

Have a video conference once a week with colleagues outside of your company. These might be your regular friend group, or it might be people who you don’t see very often. If you don’t get invited to a video conference just to shoot the breeze, then start one. Find two people you know, and who know each other, and take an hour a week to have a video call just to talk. People need connection, and, without being able to do all the things that we would normally do, a video conference with peers and friends goes at least some way in keeping you grounded to the world and with others.

Go for a socially-distanced walk. Find a couple of friends or colleagues and get out for a walk. Obviously, you will want to maintain social distancing rules, but in most places you can get out for an hour walk with colleagues feeling the same things as you. On an hour walk you’ll talk about the news of the day, family, ask a few questions and answer some. Tell jokes and have a laugh. A little sunlight, some light cardio, and talking with people you like is a good way to refresh yourself for the next day.

Be there when someone calls. In the pre-covid days, with people overloaded with work, life and family tasks, some avoided the phone altogether after work hours. With covid-19 forcing us to stay apart, the phone now becomes a lifeline. There are always the hermits among us who might take social isolation as a gift, but most of us are hungry for company. If your phone rings, don’t let it ring through. And if you’re lonely, call someone. It might be your usual habit to ask for help, but if you are feeling lonely and isolated, a friendly voice down the line can help you stop overthinking. One of the best ways to forget about your problems is to think of someone else’s problems. So that call you place for yourself might just be the call your colleague was waiting for. Pick up the phone.

Let someone know how special they are to you and that you’re thinking about them. Nothing feels nicer than telling someone you respect and appreciate your truth about them, if it’s on the nice side. Everyone appreciates encouragement and good words. If you’ve been holding your tongue because you’re not that kind of ‘feely person’, now’s the time to let someone know how much you think of them. In good times people are already very hard on themselves, the inner voice chattering to them often about the most negative things. A few unexpected words from you can make all the difference and turn a bad day into a better one. Letting someone know how much you value them, over the phone, or in an email, or over video, will surprise the person you tell, and it will, surprisingly, make you feel good telling it. Connecting with others is an emotional experience, so if it’s been forever since you let someone know how you feel about them, try it now. If you are a boss, this is your chance to tell your team, as a team and individually, how much they are valued and respected.

Stay in touch with your colleagues using text. Some people love texting, others hardly do it. But it’s an easy was to connect with your colleagues and friends. Obviously, you can use whatever application you like best, from regular text, to Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, and We Chat. If you’re so inclined, as you might have children, you could even have some fun showing off your lighter side on TikTok and sharing the fun. This might not be your thing, but I am seeing parent bond with their children making TikTok videos and sharing them with colleagues and friends.

Share a conversation. Wherever you are in the world, and however you choose to connect, just be sure you keep the conversation going. Sharing news, information, music, movies, thoughts of the day, are all good ways to support your colleagues during this time. Being forced apart and being alone just isn’t the way we are built. Some can cope with it better than others, and some have a lot of worry and stress on their minds right now. You can help make that melt away by staying as connected as possible in the ways that are available. It’s about helping people cope, to minimize their stress response to the current situation, and helping them, and yourself, maintain a healthy mental perspective.

What are some of the ways you think we can support colleagues in this time? Write us here.

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