I’m new to working from home. I think a lot of us are. We’re used to being in an office, surrounded by our coworkers. But now, all of sudden, things have changed in so many ways.

One thing that I’ve noticed while working from home is that, if we’re not careful, the bonds between coworkers can become weakened. And I can understand why. Everyone is under a lot of stress. We’re all being asked to work a different way and take on new tasks. And, most of all, we can’t easily communicate with each other like we used to. We can’t stop by each other’s offices to make small talk and connect with each other. We’re separated. And I think that’s made it harder to be empathic and understanding.

So what can we do to remedy this situation? According to author Alexandra Samuel, compassion is key. We all need to focus on how we can help one another.

Even if you normally work in a competitive environment, you should try to shift gears, and be more relaxed and supportive. Try to let small slights and annoyances slide. Let your guard down. Be honest about how you’re feeling. And, if possible, take the time to check in on your coworkers and see how they’re coping.

Some coworkers will really appreciate having the opportunity to talk about the difficulties that they’ve been having. Maybe they’re having a hard time trying to work with their kids at home, or they’re concerned about their elderly parents. You don’t need to offer any advice. Simply giving people the chance to talk about these things can help to alleviate some of their stress.

Other coworkers may not be interested in talking about their concerns. And that’s OK. They’ll still appreciate the fact that you asked about how they were doing – and they may feel comforted knowing that you’re there to listen if they feel like talking.

Pay special attention to any new employees in your department. They are probably the most likely to be feeling lost and overwhelmed.

And if you could offer to help out coworkers who might be struggling with a certain task or a new type of software, that would be wonderful. Don’t take on more than you can manage. But if you have the knowledge and capacity to help your coworkers get their work done more easily, you should do it.

It’s a scary, uncertain time for all of us. But this pandemic could actually help us to form stronger bonds with our coworkers. Ultimately, it could transform our offices into more caring, supportive, empathic places to work.

Samuel, A. (2020, April 17). New rules for being a good colleague. The Wall Street Journal, p. R4.