May 15, 2021 / by Lauren / 4 comments
Even before COVID, I had it in my head that it just wasn’t socially acceptable to “drop by” and visit a friend, even a close friend, without texting first. As a child, I still remember having one of those houses where the doorbell would ring, and you’d go to answer and it might very well be a friend of the family, or a neighbor, just dropping by to say hello. That type of casual and meaningful community building has been disappearing, sped up by the pandemic.
Technology seems to be playing a role in the loss of spontaneous conversation. Sure we have smartphones that we can use to call people when we want. But even calls have become overly scheduled. And then there’s those awkward video conference calls that were novel at the beginning of the pandemic, just to see a familiar face from outside of our immediate home, but have become awkward, daunting, and tedious. Ironically, having a device that keeps us always connected has created an invisible barrier that leads to fewer real life connections.
The work place was perhaps the final frontier for organic friendly interaction. If your colleague’s office door was open, or they didn’t have their headphones on in their cubicle, you could walk up and ask them about their weekend. That might lead to discussing something related to a joint project, or collaborating on something entirely new. Now that so many of us are working remotely, this kind of casual conversation has been lost. And the invisible barriers that have become the social norm for our personal life have crept into our work life as well. That loss has had an effect on coworker dynamics. It has driven a wedge between what would otherwise be a close knit team of colleagues enjoying each other’s company and working towards a common goal.
Don’t get me wrong, working remotely does have its share of perks. There are many. We’ve all enjoyed our days working in sweatpants. Not having to deal with the “Lumbergs” stopping by to pretend to chat just to give you more work is also a definite plus. And sometimes it’s nice to have uninterrupted work time so you can really hunker down and focus on completing a task. But I miss having coworkers within earshot so we can catch up, commiserate together, and talk about something work related without having to put it on a calendar.