Remote Happiness Enablement — What You Can Do To Improve Others’ Happiness At Work
Five simple things you can change in your behaviour and start doing to be a nicer remote colleague.
Happiness at work, is still a widely discussed topic, especially in the golden age of working from home. Many discuss happiness and productivity at work, in the context of remote work. Most of the things I’ve seen, focus on what you can do to promote your own happiness and protect your work-life balance. In this blog I’d like to share my thoughts on what you can do to improve others’ happiness at work, from home.
It recently struck me, we’ve been working from home for a year in Europe. The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us office workers to work from home. Yes, on and off from the office, but mostly from home, depending on individual company policy. The pandemic has forced most companies to rethink their digital infrastructure. Suddenly, all our colleagues and work were online, accessible through your laptop and our homes became our workplaces too. Things have changed, to say the least.
In 2019, I wrote a blog called What you can do to improve others’ happiness at work — be a happiness enabler. A blog about what you can do to add to the happiness at work of your co-workers. It’s time for an update.
In this blog I talk about what you can do to be a ‘happiness enabler’. Besides from what you can do for others, I defined three factors that are key for your long term happiness at work.
1. Your challenge, job and purpose;
2. Your employer and what they stand for;
3. Your team, co-workers and environment.
Due to the past year, I would like to add a fourth factor to this list; collaboration. Our office jobs have become living room jobs, old implicit structures are not applicable any more. Where you used to be able to walk to somebody’s desk, put post-its on a whiteboard and have IRL meetings, you’re now part of a working digital ecosystem.
4. Your company’s way of working.
In the physical office, you can rely on colleagues within arms reach, non-verbal communication and running into each other. Many companies have an implicit collaboration system, which was sufficient when everybody was working in the same space. But with everybody working remote, suddenly the structure or way of working became much more important. It is incredibly important to have an explicit way of working. As you can’t rely on previous social structures.
Now, let’s get into what we can do together to “add to people’s happiness” at work. It’s the small things that matter.
Be considerate of others’ time
Some days, it feels like we’re sitting in endless digital meetings. Our teams are constantly trying to connect on topics. We’re spending a bit too much time zooming in on details, where we can also get more things done. And have balanced, productive and fun working days. Let’s be considerate of each others’ time. Don’t schedule meetings during lunchtime. Don’t plan meetings after meetings without a break in between. And don’t make a meme out of yourself by organising meetings that could’ve been an email.
Don’t ask people why they’re not in the office
Implying rhetorical questions at work are nothing new. The newest prodding question is to ask why somebody is not at the office. And its equivalent; inviting others to join you at the office. The answer is quite simple, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and it’s not safe to sit in closed spaces with others. We are in charge of our own health and don’t need more social pressure to compromise this. Don’t make people feel uncomfortable by asking this. We’re better than that.
Watch your tone
As described in the Monocle’s February Issue / Fifty Big Ideas — Emails amplify a passive-aggressive tone. Make sure that your communication, even when you’re very busy, is pleasant and clear. Manners and decency can go a long way and avoid unnecessary interpersonal tensions. If we’re all more positive, polite and kind behind the keyboard, we’d all feel less stress.
Personally, I’ve had some small missteps when it comes to watching my tone in written communication. I reflected and improved on this issue. With live communication it’s easier to predict how your message will be perceived. With more care and time you can assure a polite delivery.
Kilbride, V. (2021, February). 02. Make better connections. Monocle, 140, 36–37.
Communicate clear & concise
Digital communication consist mainly of text and is asynchronous. Make sure that your message is easily understandable, is not too long and contains all the necessary information for the receiver. When communicating asynchronously, you’ll have to wait longer for a reply. And when this reply is to ask for clarification or more information, this costs more time. The keyword here is clarity and that’s your responsibility as the sender.
When I’m not able to shorten my email I add a TL;DR to the top of my email, to safe the receiver(s) some time and to make sure they get the message. Before hitting send, I ask myself “would I immediately understand what’s going on?”.
Show appreciation and interest
Show appreciation for your co-workers. Show interest in their work and daily lives. Having coffee corner chats used to be as easy as can be. Today, you have to put in some effort to connect with colleagues. Give compliments about good work. Ask questions to show that you’re interested. Make sure the people on the other side of the webcams feel like people. It sounds very simple, but this can have a tremendous positive effect on somebody’s day.
Working from home is already challenging enough as it is. Many people have their kids at home, as well as spouses and other family members. Keep in mind that you can’t expect anybody to be fully available throughout the day and as productive as before the pandemic. The thing we can do, is to be more polite and considerate to each other.