COVID-19: How to stay social while practicing social distancing

By Kirsty Munro

We’re into week three of Work From Home (WFH) at FunkyCorp. The first few days were almost fun: at our first video meeting, everyone looked bright-eyed and full of anticipation. “Great”, I thought, “back to my freelance days—playing my own music, no phone calls, plenty of time to focus”. But all the Google Hangouts, Line messages, Slacks and texts can’t make up for face-to-face communication.

Remember when we could stand closer than 1 meter?

Small misunderstandings got compounded when I couldn’t just walk over to someone’s desk or catch up for a quick chat at the coffee machine. I missed my lunch buddies, the afternoon Starbucks run and after-work drinks at the Trash Bar. Although this is only temporary, I have a tendency to become a hermit and bury myself in work which made me a good (and bad) freelancer. I realized I would have to be more proactive and force myself to connect and—let’s be honest—I needed a reason to not wear pajamas all day.

Hang out but keep your distance

I am lucky to have some pretty friendly neighbors, who it turns out, are also working from home. Thanks to a fellow Aussie who often drags me out for an early morning walk around the park (keeping a good meter or so apart, of course), I have to get dressed in real clothes. We talk about footy and his dating disasters and anything except the virus. Exercise and dry humor are the best ways to start the day. A yoga teacher in my building has made an online stretch and breathe session online, where we can meet up twice a day for a 10 minute de-stress.

In the age of text, it’s good to talk

Pick up the Phone

Take the time to check in with your friends. Go beyond the shallow chitchat and really talk. In the age of text, it’s time to rediscover the warmth and intimacy of a phone call. A high school friend called out of the blue from Mexico the other night, and while we usually exchange the occasional birthday email or funny GIF, hearing his voice took me straight back to those simpler days. Laughter is cheap therapy.

Host a Virtual Party

Although we’ve all become immersed in our screens, modern technology can also help us connect. Get your friends together for a virtual party on Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or whatever works. Grab a drink (try a “Quarantini”: a regular martini that you drink alone at home), turn the sound up and have a gabfest, a trivia night, a dress-up party, a living room dance-off. At FunkyCorp, we all miss getting together for drinks at our Trash Bar, so we’re thinking of ways to get together virtually…all suggestions gratefully received!

Let’s take this party online

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