By April 27, 2020

How Programmers Can Maintain A Social Connection While Working Remotely

social connection working remotely Programmers can sometimes get lost in their computers, making it like they aren’t even at work. Add “remote work” to their title, and it becomes quite a challenge to keep constant communication between coworkers and trying to make everyone feel like part of the team.

Most remote workers perform at higher levels as far as value and workload accomplishments go, but they lose a lot of the team unifying skills that are easier to mold while in constant face-to-face contact with coworkers.

This does not need to happen!

Just because you work remotely does not mean you can’t act and communicate the same way you would if you were working in the office.

Programmers need to do their part by staying up-to-date on all things company-related, and project managers need to make sure they communicate with both peers and management.

Although direct face-to-face contact may not be possible for remote workers, it is still important for them to maintain the social aspects of work.

These aspects help increase job satisfaction, improve collaboration, and boost social skills and help remote workers stay knowledgeable on industry and company knowledge and develop cross-departmental relationships.

To help project managers and programmers alike, here are six ways to increase social interaction between remote coworkers.

Know Your Team

Whether you’re a project manager or programmer, if you know of a great new program for increasing social interaction between coworkers, don’t hesitate to share that information with your team. 

Remember that ease-of-use is an important factor when trying to connect a large group of people, especially considering how fast communication technology is increasing.

The ultimate goal is effective communication and collaboration. If you have a small team, and everyone is on board with the new communication technology, go for it. But if it’s a larger scale operation, be prepared to do a lot of training (and also be ready for some frustration).

Be Available

In tune with knowing your team, being “overly available” means giving everyone the chance to communicate with you via their own communication preferences.

If your team disagrees on what means of communication to use, become a jack of all trades, and learn to use all of them. 

Texting, calling, emailing, chat services, videoconferencing, and more are all different types of communication. There are a number of workplace tools and software products that make communication among employees easier and streamlined: Zoom, Google Chat, Slack, Discord, Skype, etc. Project management software like Asana and Trello can help you communicate about task and project specifics. Within a medium-to-large team setting, it’s almost a guarantee someone on the team prefers one or more of these options.

Knowing “who” likes to talk “how” will not only increase team communication but will encourage all of your coworkers to reach out to you knowing they can do so via their favorite communication medium.

You don’t have to know every detail about these services and platforms inside and out, but it’s a good idea to get generally familiar with them and be able to use them at a foundational level. Trying to learn how to communicate through all of these platforms can be overwhelming and counterproductive to what a streamlined communication system is trying to accomplish.

And as always, don’t be afraid to ask your managers or coworkers for help and resources if you need them. There are several resources and books out there that can help you adjust to working remotely and help you improve on communicating remotely with coworkers.work

Over Communicate

When working from home, communication can be hard to maintain if the proper measures aren’t in place.

For programmers, it’s essential to develop a regular communication pattern to get insight from peers on the latest industry trends and advancements.

For project managers, communication is essential for keeping up with the state of projects as well as identifying potential process kinks or areas of optimization.

Consistent communication can lead to solid cross-departmental relationships, which can lead to increased company knowledge, new skill acquisition, and improved work satisfaction.

Once you establish a solid means for steady communication, use it and use it often.

Think back to the last time you sat in an office full of people. When at that office, if a thought popped into your head (relevant to work), you’d most likely share it with your colleagues.

With remote work, there are far too many instances of an issue occurring and a remote employee saying “Darn, I was going to say something about that.”

If you are a project manager, feel free to encourage the sharing of ideas and thoughts by developing an email thread or Slack channel exclusive for brainstorming or asking questions.

And if you are a programmer, don’t be afraid to speak up when you have an idea or possible concern.

Just as in the office, if you have an idea, share it. Whether it be a mass email, a message on a chat service, etc., an idea shared is just that, and ideas are important for growth.

A simple rule: If you have the thought “I wonder if my coworkers should know this,” then share that thought immediately. It will help work and also help prevent you from becoming an “out of sight, out of mind” employee.

Give Feedback, Get Feedback

Even if your remote situation is new or temporary (e.g., COVID-19 related), thinking everything will be perfect for all parties involved is beyond wishful thinking.

There will always be issues, and that’s OK.

Bring them up and ask your team what they do and don’t like about your remote work habits or social interactions. 

For example, not everyone enjoys being messaged in the middle of an important project. By clearly communicating and providing each other with feedback, you’ll be far more likely to be satisfied with your work and empathetic with peers. You’ll also get a boost in social awareness and overall EQ.

As a programmer, your teaming up with your project manager to make sure this kind of feedback is encouraged and shared throughout the group will once again be good for the job and good for your clout with your team.

Open communication is especially true for programmers who have their projects managed by a nontechnical project manager. Make sure to set aside some time to chat with them and relay any and all of your job-related needs.

Likewise, project managers should actively reach out to programmers who they are not hearing consistently from.

Even if it is just a brief chat, project managers should try to stay informed on statuses, workloads, or any project-related issues.

Effective and clear communication is key during a time when you can’t just pop over to the desk next door and ask for an extension.

Make Your Own Watercooler

This is a metaphor, of course (unless your business is actually making water coolers), but it means to do the same little communication practices you’d do in the office while working remotely.

If you’re someone who likes to say “Hi” to everybody each morning, shoot them an email each morning saying just that. There is zero shame in keeping your name prominent in the workplace, even if your body is not there.

Maintaining consistent communication habits should also pertain to meeting habits.

If you like to grab a coffee before meetings, give your colleague a call and sip coffee remotely.

If you like to have a feedback session after a presentation, make sure your colleagues know that, and make it happen remotely.

You can also schedule happy hours for after work through Zoom or other video conferencing tools. Grab a drink and snack, turn on Zoom, and chat away the stresses of the day while staying connected with your coworkers.

Be Who You Are in the Office, Even When Working From Home

Depending on the person, an invitation to work remotely can be a ticket to freedom.

Use it! 

Realizing a remote work relationship is something you love is also a motivator to be an even better employee than before.

Just be careful not to overdo it and skip out on socializing with your peers.

Think about the hour you’re not in traffic each day, and let yourself have that hour for an extra walk with the dog, happy hour with a friend, or any other form of self-care.

But don’t forget that socializing with coworkers is its own form of self-care, too. 

Social connections can help increase work satisfaction and overall knowledge. There’s so much knowledge within an organization, so take advantage of it by sharing ideas and thoughts with peers!

There’s a reason you have a job, and there is a reason you’ve been entrusted with doing that job from the comfort of your own home.

Allow some time to adapt, allow for plenty of feedback, keep your name in everyone’s ear, and don’t forget to enjoy the benefits.

About the author

Ryan Ayers

Ryan Ayers is a researcher and consultant within multiple industries including information technology, blockchain and business development. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis. When not at work, Ayers loves reading science fiction novels and watching the LA Clippers.