I’ve been working remotely for the last two years, so I had the advantage of a decent period of adjustment before the COVID-19 crisis hit and forced the majority of tech workers into a fairly extended (and, perhaps, indefinite?) period of remote work.
Lots of pixels have already been spilled with advice about how to make that adjustment, but I want to talk about an oft-overlooked angle that I have found important to both my enjoyment of work and my ability to bond with my coworkers remotely: it’s important to get goofy on slack.
One thing that I’ve noticed with the shift to remote work is that a lot of people complain that the joy has been sucked out of their work-day, and they feel like their days are just an endless slog of zoom calls without any of the small things that make life in the office fun: gossiping at the coffee machine, checking out someone’s zany outfit, chatting about the concert someone went to last night, reminiscing about the time someone fell down the stairs at the Christmas party — whatever.
That sort of social interaction is super important, and if you want to continue to bond with your colleagues, the kind of bonds that are actually very important, especially when there’s a work crisis and you need folks to band together, you need to find a way to make that happen even with the team fully remote.
I encourage you to get goofy on slack.
Getting goofy on slack means taking advantage of the #random channel to post funny things you find on the internet. Or creating a #books channel to talk about what you’re reading, or a #dnd channel to promote your post-work-hours company dungeons and dragons group or really whatever it is that you’re interested in.
As a full-time remote worker, I love these online communities that I can participate in. I love seeing what my colleagues are listening to in the #music channel, and I love having a place that I can share the cool new art print I bought. These are the ways that I can forge social connections with my peers / colleagues / friends and they are super important.
Here are some good ways to get goofy on slack:
- Mention that you got embarrassingly sunburned this weekend. Include a photo.
- Share what you’re listening to on Spotify. Why does your recommended playlist contain so much Carly Rae Jepson?
- Always show a photo when you spill coffee on yourself.
- What are your cats doing? There are never enough photos of people’s cats in the #mycats channel.
And here’s the most important part: the more senior you are in your organization, the more important it is that you get goofy on slack. If you’re a VP at your organization, it’s critical that you demonstrate that 1) you’re a real human being who has real weird interests or whatever and 2) that it’s appropriate to get a bit goofy on slack.
This sort of bonding activity is seriously missing right now, and I’m very afraid that lots of people are feeling like the little joys of their worked day have been sucked out of their jobs. This is bad for morale, it’s bad for companies, and it’s bad for individuals. It is imperative that we all band together, collectively, and get a little goofy on slack.
So let’s see those playlists, let’s hear about those sunburns, and please please let us see more of those cats.