Whether working from home has been part of your life since before the pandemic, or you were forced to transition into it, the reality is that most of us don’t get nearly as much face to face time with other people as we used to. But what if we told you there is a way to replace the coffee and chit-chat breaks you used to have in your office or coworking center?
If you’re reading this blog, you’ve no doubt had virtual coffee meetings. And if you’ve had them, you know—they’re not quite the same as when you get together in person.
But they’re still valuable. And they can still be a lot of fun.
So, to make the most out of your next virtual coffee meeting, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Create a schedule for virtual coffee meetings
Regardless of your profession, making connections with both coworkers and fellow professionals is something that has many benefits from both a social and career perspective. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t enjoy a short chat while waiting for your coffee in the break room of your company, or in your favorite coworking space.
Even though the point of having a virtual chat over a coffee or a snack is to get some breathing space from the work responsibilities, some structure is still necessary to ensure that things run smoothly. Therefore, it is a good idea to commonly agree on a weekly meeting time with the other involved parties and try to stick to it. Deciding on the chat’s length is also recommended being done beforehand, as plenty of us have multiple responsibilities and filled up schedules to deal with. A 30 minutes virtual chat should be enough, but feel free to see what works best for you.
Maybe you will not always feel like doing it, but being disciplined about it and sticking to the plan can be very beneficial and create an awesome team spirit.
Get the technicalities right
Once everyone knows when the meetings will occur, the following step is to ensure that the members of your organization are assigned to a conversation partner and they have access to a video call solution. If you have a well-thought-out system of handling the meetings that your organization enjoys using, the whole process can move smoothly and people can focus on the actual interaction rather than technicalities.
Whereas face to face communication is pretty straightforward and doesn’t usually require careful planning in advance, the equation is slightly different when it comes to virtual chats. The spontaneity of having a coffee break with another coworker is not that easy to replicate in the online medium, but luckily there are quite a few services that can make it happen. Donut is one of them. It can be added to the team chatroom (e.g. Slack) and it will randomly match the interested members to each other. Then you can communicate with the coworker you were matched with and decide on a time for your virtual coffee chat. Donut offers various meeting time suggestions based on each person’s availability and encourages conversation with different nice touches, such as conversation starter ideas, or randomly assigning one of the participants to make the first step and start a conversation or suggest a meeting time first.
On the video call side of things, there are large arrays of video solutions available on the market and each can serve different needs and purposes. MeetFox is a solution that takes care of both the scheduling and video conferencing aspects and its multi functionality recommends it for this purpose as well.
Prepare for the talk
Considering that the whole purpose of this virtual coffee concept is to create a leisure activity that revolves around the social interaction and connection between people, you shouldn’t worry too much about putting in a lot of preparation. You should, however, have outlined a few things that you want to discuss and learn about the other person to make the conversation flow more naturally. We all have our anxieties and insecurities, even more so in an online meeting setting, but if you start with some casual conversation to settle in and build rapport, you’ll be off to a great start. Be open and curious about the other person, listen to what they have to say, and you should have all the right elements to discover common interests and hobbies, as well as pave the way for building a personal connection.
Create interest-based groups
People are naturally inclined to be closer to those with whom they share common interests and passions. In any company, there are going to be people of various backgrounds, who enjoy doing all sorts of different things. One way that your company can benefit from that is by creating groups based on the passions that people share. In this way, the company gains not only by nurturing the team spirit and creating a pleasant work environment but also by decreasing the stress levels of the employees, as having hobbies is often linked with reducing stress. For instance, a virtual book club can come to life under the form of a Slack channel, and its members can decide what activities they want to partake in.
No matter how introverted you might be, it’s a human trait to feel the need to socialize and luckily there are ways to do that even in times when physical contact is not advised. Try out virtual coffee breaks if you haven’t already and who knows, you might be pleasantly surprised by what comes out of it!