How to Keep Working Relationships Vibrant During COVID

Regardless of the course that COVID takes in our world, one thing is clear: people will be working virtually more than ever before, even after we’re cleared to meet in person again.

At Path Forward, we take a profoundly relational view of leadership – that is to say, we see leadership success coming directly from the leader’s abilities to form, sustain, and grow key relationships.

Much of this relationship-building has traditionally occurred in unexpected ways – the shared ride on the elevator, the lunch table conversation, the drive-by “how are you today?” conversations, the sharing of a birthday cake.

Now, as we interact in less visceral and personal ways, I hear leaders saying, “I just can’t relate to people the way I did before – I’m concerned about our culture coming apart at the seams if we can’t be together.”

We can do things to keep things fresh and lively while we’re working with one another virtually.

  • Get up and move around. It seems to be that we’ve become LESS mobile and physically active in the virtual environment. Try to move around, even a little bit. It creates better energy that we can share with others on those long Zoom calls.
  • Be spontaneous. Use IM or even good old-fashioned email to recreate the “drive-by” scenario in the office. There are questions we can still ask virtually – “how the heck are you?” “did you see the game last night?” or “what can I do to help you have a good day today?”
  • Don’t over-rely on meeting technologies. If your day is full of Zoom meetings, your relationships may benefit from some space on your calendar, and for some communication to move to phone, IM, or some other form of communication. Some of the liveliest conversations I’ve ever had were with people I couldn’t see or hear in the moment.
  • Brainstorm virtually. Toss an idea out there, and let it percolate. Talk out loud about your victories and your frustrations, even if “talking” is different than it was before.

I think all of this comes under the category of not wasting our time just wishing things could be different than they are. And remember, all this virtual relationship-building work is building capabilities for you and your organization that will be essential even after COVID.

About the Author

Sarah Thomson

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *