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Love Your Co-Workers, Even When You’re Working From Home

Love Your Co-Workers, Even When You’re Working From Home

Maybe you started in 2020. Maybe you started long before. Maybe you’re still getting used to it. But whatever it is, it’s a safe bet that you’ve crossed paths with the WFH lifestyle now. Many of us started working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic but studies suggest that it might be here to stay. “Zoom” has become shorthand for “meeting” and we’re developing a knack for switching timezones in our heads. Some companies are moving to a hybrid model, requiring workers to show up at the office a few days a week. Others are going fully remote. But either way, it’s safe to say that WFH is here to stay in some capacity.

There are a lot of good things about this. Many WFH workers like the increased flexibility, the extra amount of time they get to spend with their family or on the road, mapping travel onto their work schedules. Lunch can be done at the kitchen table instead of reheated pasta out of a plastic container. You can listen to your own music. It’s nice.

But of course, there are downsides. One of them that you don’t hear much about is how much your fellow employees can become names on a Slack or floating heads on a video screen. You know their names and maybe what books are on their shelves, but you don’t necessarily get much opportunity to really know them. Lunch breaks, post-work dinners and weekend pickleball meetups just don’t really happen as much in the WFH age. It’s not end of the world. But it’s also not an excuse to ignore your c0-workers.

The natural inclination in something like this is to start seeing the people you work with as little more than a job title. That’s perfectly understandable, since you don’t really interact with them outside of whatever their daily duties are. But for people who are called to show the love of God to everyone we come into contact with, it’s just not enough. The people we work with aren’t only loved by God, they are made in God’s image. And one way we can be salt and light in the world is loving our co-workers — even from home.

One good way to do this is making it a habit to reach out to your colleagues about things besides work. Try to make it a habit to make something other than work the first thing you talk about every day, even if it’s just over the work Slack. Ask about how the week is going, what they’re reading, what was the last TV show they binged. It doesn’t have to get into existential “meaning of life” stuff — just enough to let your colleagues know you value them as people. (Of course, if the other person doesn’t seem interested in engaging, know when to back off).

Another way to love your co-workers well is to celebrate their wins. It’s pretty easy to stay focused on the urgent needs of our job — we reach out when we need help, when something needs fixing or when a ball got dropped. It’s rarer to reach out when someone executed a task well, fixed a problem or even just navigated a busy day without completely falling apart. Offering little shoutouts over email or text can go a long ways.

Because whatever the perks of WFH, it’s easy to start feeling sort of invisible — like all your work tumbles into a void. It’s rare to to see the actual, tangible results of what you’re doing. But having someone else acknowledge your work gives it real shape and form — it’s a reminder that whatever it is you do, someone else sees it. And some days, that can be the difference between ending the day feeling burned out and ending the day feeling accomplished.

It’s still important to respect other people’s boundaries (including your own). Learning to love your co-workers well might mean leaving them alone if they like privacy, and it definitely means knowing when to shut your computer and attend to your personal life. You’ll find yourself much more capable of loving everyone else around you if you’re taking time to pour into your own life as well.

But pouring into the lives of others is one of the things that makes life beautiful, and that goes for work as well. Taking a little time to invest in the people you work with won’t just make their work life a little better — it’ll improve yours too.

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