Nine Ways to Connect Meaningfully When We’re Forced to be Apart

Nine Ways to Connect Meaningfully When We're Forced to be apart

It’s a weird moment. Due to coronavirus, many of us are working from home, may be watching kids, and are facing a major transition in what the day-to-day looks like, facing fears for ourselves and loved ones, and a lot of uncertainty. Yet, while we may be physically separate, we don’t need to be emotionally isolated. Here are nine of my favorite ways to connect, come together, and to adapt to this moment.

1. Connect Better Online

Do you associate online calls with boredom and distraction? I run a fully online business. All my coaching and training sessions are virtual. I’ve put together a piece on my tips for more dynamic and engaging online meetings and collaborations (and hint? It’s not about the tech, it’s about our behavior and expectations.)

2. Catch up with Friends & Contacts

I do virtual coffee dates throughout the year, and now is a great time to reconnect with people to break up a day of isolation and to get out of your echo chamber. It’s also a good time to reach out to someone new. I have a habit of reaching out to another business owner I admire monthly to invite them to a virtual coffee date (and even once sent a care package ahead with a nice mug I’d picked out for them.) You can access my ‘ask out’ script for a virtual coffee date here.

3. Connect on  Managing the Stress and Challenges of Working from Home

I love what Tech Ladies has done, creating a spreadsheet crowdsourcing ideas for adapting to remote work. Some of the highlights? Lunch Together, a virtual ‘lunch meetup’ online.

4. Connect Emotionally, Virtually

When we’re physically isolated is often when we want to be emotionally and spiritually together. Many faith groups (my synagogue included) are hosting their first virtual services. There are live meditation sits, workouts from home by businesses like CONBODY (which hires formerly incarcerated people) and more. 

Join one or create one: Be the one to bring together a group of friends for a Google Hangouts ‘happy hour’ or a folk song sing-along online.

5. Access Arts & Culture

There will be more and more ways to engage in the arts, and support artists virtually. Institutions like the Met are hosting ontline replays of shows.The New York Times just published this list of podcasts for theater lovers who can’t get their fix in-person. Pop open a google hangout or a facetime or text chain with friends or and ‘go to the opera’ together (you can even dress up and bring fancy things to drink) from behind the computer. It’s a good time to invite the emotional power of the arts into your life.

6. Get your Reading On

Got that big stack of books you’ve been meaning to get through? It’s a good time. Even if you don’t, you can still order books or audiobooks, and many public library e-Reader collections are so much bigger than they ever have been. I even read some of my favorite comics on Hoopla, a service many libraries subscribe to. A few years ago I took on a challenge to read 100 books in a year, and I pulled together a list of my top books, out of the 100 I read that I still stand by. 

7. Invest in Virtual Learning

It’s also a great time for virtual professional development. Those webinars or online classes you’ve been thinking about? Sign up for one today. Sometimes feel antsy during them?  My secret is to be doing something that is not a distraction during webinars and trainings. I either set myself up to implement what I’m learning immediately: If it’s a training on better prototyping, bring up your next prototyping plan and edit it with tips you learn in the training. Or have a project on hand that keeps your hands occupied—like a quilting or knitting project—to diffuse the ‘I should be doing something now” feeling.

8. Bring out that Side Project

Have a passion project you’ve been thinking about for a while but has stayed on the someday maybe list? Well, you might have more time now to make some mental space for it, and to take the next steps. And just because you’re physically isolated doesn’t mean you have to be virtually isolated. Reach out to and connect with potential collaborators or brainstorm partners on it. See item #2 for my virtual coffee date ‘ask out’ script.

9. Look for Ways to Help

Many of us have work that easily transitions to remote–but not everyone is in that position. There are many who are in jobs that don’t pay enough to build up savings to ride out the tough timers, often service jobs that require in-person presence. Many people face housing instability or don’t have good home infrastructure like internet. It’s a good time to be thinking about how we might learn from this moment so that vulnerable people in our society are less vulnerable. Over the next few weeks also look for ways to give–of your time, your money, your emotional presence and support.  Kindness makes us feel more connected, helps us step out from under the shadow of the fear.

Hi I'm Maya

Mia Scharphie , career coach, headshot

I’m a career coach and strategist with a secret power (I mean, past career) as a designer. I love road trips, graphic novels and helping people like you design the career you love on your own terms.