The Internet’s frequent intrusion into personal lives correlates to the unremitting demands of the workplace. It feels unavoidable, but don’t abandon hope. It certainly is possible to work on setting limits. You can protect time with your partner, family, and friends and respond differently to endless claims on your attention.
Many people email their coworkers or employer outside of normal work hours. Once you make yourself available, it is expected that you will always be available.
Here is a shortlist of Dr. John Gottman’s tips for creating and maintaining healthy connections with co-workers that demonstrate interest and dedication. You won’t feel compelled to perpetually attend to the whims of your mobile devices. In fact, you can make the internet work for you.
Note: Some of these suggestions may not be applicable or feasible to implement in your work situation. The list below is simply intended as a starting point.
Call your co-workers to team meetings and don’t leave anyone out. If someone on the team contributes to the project but you feel that their opinion isn’t strictly necessary in decision making, remember that their exclusion may leave them feeling disrespected and unappreciated. If you’re on the fence, invite them as a gesture of appreciation for the work that they are doing.
The first day at a new job is rarely a relaxing experience. Counteract the stress of coming into a new workplace with warm introductions. Be intentional about saying hello. Remember how it felt when you were the new person at your job and give others a friendly welcome.
Bulletin boards, staff newsletters, and intranet newsgroups
Though these communication tools require time and effort to maintain, they can make enormously positive changes in office life. In these kinds of open forums, staff come together and connect over shared interests, enabling individuals to build stronger relationships that may even extend into personal life. These forums can bring people together emotionally as well. In “The Relationship Cure,” Dr. Gottman says that creating traditions (such as sharing pictures of pets, children, vacation scenery, etc., on a staff bulletin board) can be fun and bring novelty to the office. It gives staff a chance to see each other from radically different points of view. He explains, “Imagine seeing your political nemesis as a frightened two-year-old on a pony, or the office tyrant as an awkward teenager in braces and a powder-blue tuxedo. It [sends] the message that we were all innocent once, we were all vulnerable, and we still carry those parts of ourselves around every day… we don’t have to unravel our whole life stories to our coworkers, but it may help to reveal glimpses of our past from time to time.” Whether you create meeting spaces online or offline, take advantage of the opportunities they have to offer.
Everyone has a birthday, so it’s an egalitarian way to ensure that everyone receives recognition and appreciation. Birthdays are an ideal opportunity to gather as a group and spend some social time with your coworkers. Remember to keep the focus on the person and not on their age. Try to keep the festivities fairly short while making time for casual conversation.
Recognition for special accomplishments
Companies often have a system providing recognition for good performance (like Employee of the Month). This process has the capacity for staff to nominate their coworkers for honors or send kudos to those who they feel are doing good work. Whether this recognition comes by electronic message or in physical form, making a public announcement reduces the likelihood of recognition feeling like a necessary formality. Thanking individuals or teams for their contributions in a message sent out to the office can make people feel highly valued and respected.
A culture of positive reinforcement will not only increase productivity but make people feel that their work is valued, fostering a warmer and more respectful office environment.
Read more on the Digital Age blog series.