The rising popularity of telework and work-from-home arrangements is exciting and advantageous for many employees. Working from home may mean added flexibility and fewer distractions, as well as time and money saved on commutes. Despite these advantages, some employees may not be thrilled about spending their workday in their living quarters. Extroverts gain energy from interactions with other people, which means they often thrive when surrounded by coworkers. In-person meetings, networking, social connections with coworkers, and face-to-face interactions with supervisors can be essential to career development for extroverts. But, working from home doesn’t require isolation or taking a hiatus from networking. With a little effort and a few strategies, even those who thrive on connections with others can excel in telework situations.
Communicate by video call
When planning group or one-on-one meetings, opt for video rather than phone calls. Seeing coworkers, even on a screen, promotes a sense of togetherness, despite the distance. Plus, communication is more effective with the addition of facial expressions and body language. Video conferencing also provides a reason to dress for the workday. Starting a shift in last night’s pajamas and with a case of bedhead may feel like an advantage to a work-from-home arrangement, but it can actually be demotivating and lead to a lack of productivity. Most importantly, resist the urge to turn off your webcam during video calls. Letting an avatar, or blank box, represent you during meetings takes away an important social interaction tool from both you and your coworkers.
Create background noise
A quiet workspace seems ideal, but silence can be distracting. Extroverts thrive in busy offices filled with a symphony of conversations, ringing telephone and equipment hums. Rather than listening to the void, create a din that fills the silence while allowing the mind to concentrate on the task at hand. Skip television and movies, which may cause a distraction, and opt for instrumental music or binaural beats.
Become active in an online community
Though it’s not a replacement for face-to-face interactions and in-person meetings, the internet provides a wealth of networking opportunities. A quick search will reveal groups devoted to every profession and passion under the sun. Not sure where to start? Check out LinkedIn’s selection of field-specific groups. Facebook and Reddit are also full of easy-to-join communities surrounding professions and alma maters. Plus, many universities and colleges offer online groups connecting graduates across the globe. For something a bit closer to home, find out if your company provides an online avenue for chatting with coworkers. If not, perhaps starting one is a leadership opportunity waiting to happen.
Plan virtual social activities
Working remotely doesn’t mean you need to miss out on after-work happy hours or chatty coffee breaks. Plan a virtual coffee morning with your favorite coworkers via Zoom or Google Hangouts or Skype. It may not be the same as greeting each other in the office break room, but combining caffeine and a bit of team camaraderie can set the tone for a productive day. Similarly, get the team together for an online happy hour when the day is done. This is a perfect way to transition from working at home to living at home, especially when you take your drink and your screen outdoors. Keep the conversation upbeat and positive, with everyone chatting about their favorite libation and plans for the evening.
Join (or start) a lunch club
Lunchtime can often be the most challenging part of the workday for coworkers. Eating alone can feel isolating, so those who thrive on social interaction may be tempted to cut their break short. Make lunch more enjoyable with a lunch club that brings together coworkers, or other work-from-home friends. Use the time for lunch-and-learn activities in which participants take turns presenting skills, talents or interests that might be beneficial to the group. Alternatively, host a mastermind group. Encouraging peer to brainstorm and problem solve together can be an effective and motivating use of the lunch break. A virtual lunch is also a perfect time for a book club, with selections ranging from leadership development to murder mysteries.
Joining a group fitness class, either online or in-person, is an excellent way to blend physical and mental health. Look for yoga classes to help clear the mind or dance sessions for some upbeat fun. Even a daily walk, which provides an opportunity to meet and greet neighbors, is an effective way to bring both movement and social interactions into the day.
The future is likely to bring even more reliance on work-from-home and telework arrangements. Changing economies and evolving lifestyles may mean fewer large offices and more people spending their careers in home workspaces. In order to stay successful, productive, and motivated, extroverts will need to seek out and create the social experiences they once easily found in break rooms and after-hours activities.
Want more tips? Check out Ten Time Management Tips for Freelancers