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5 Ways To Become An Empathetic Remote Coworker During COVID-19 Pandemic

Empathy in the time of Coronavirus.

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The uncertainty of life, money and distance relationships caused by COVID-19 pandemic have been hitting us hard, while affecting our daily routines, including work. We haven't seen our office workstations in weeks, and even there's an attempt at play to get our lives back to normalcy, we have no clear end in sight. Therefore, some of us are still working from home, and it's a privilege that we should be thankful for. 
 
However, while some find it absolutely enjoyable, the rest is still trying to wrap their minds around this whole thing. When the office is your daily escape, working from home can create a great deal of pressure, despite how much money and time it can save us. This could affect their productivity, slow them down and make them unfocused.
 
The work-life balance is a never-ending debate for many, many reasons, and a lot of people are struggling to figure it out as we speak. If you feel like your colleague is going through something similar, do not chastise them, but instead, be empathetic.
 
Here are 5 simple ways to make it happen, even as a remote coworker, so they can get back on track.

Create A Safe Space

A safe space where your coworker can share whatever that's bothering him/her is much needed in times like this. Our mind is like a pressure cooker on fire, and if you don't open the lid from time to time, the problems, like the steam, can build up and overwhelm you. Therefore, it's absolutely important to encourage others to let those agonising feelings out, so you can listen to them, and help them process.

The space you create for them to open up should be free of judgement. Put yourself in their shoes, and look at the problem from their perspective so you can help them figure out things in a better way.

On the other hand, make sure that everything you hear from them is completely confidential. They're trusting you with difficult and sensitive emotions and you should respect their privacy. Plus, no one likes a gossipmonger, not even on a good day.

Stay Connected

Make yourself available by staying connected. When you're working from office, you naturally tend to check up on your coworkers around you. It could be during your lunch break, over some coffee, or simply when you pass by their workstation. But now that you're working from home, none of these opportunities are there.

So unless there's a work-related inquiry, we don't talk to our coworkers like we used to do, which makes this social distancing not only physical but also mental. Therefore, make sure to drop a text to your close coworkers on a daily basis to see whether they're doing all right, and if that's not enough, have a little chat over a virtual coffee session.

Talk about everything else that you do aside from work, like sharing tips about interesting dishes that you cooked during home-quarantine, or some movie recommendations. It gives you the much-needed break from work and will make them realise that you're there for them, no matter what.

Encourage

Working from home comes with a new set of challenges that one cannot easily adjust to. The home background is different from one person to another, and therefore, the level of focus you have when you work from home could be totally different in comparison to what your colleague has. Because now it's not taking one thing at a time; you're dealing with chaos at both work and home at the same time.

Therefore, for those of them who are in need of encouragement to get through the day, provide it with open arms. You don't have to prepare a speech or parrot back the popular motivational quotes, but show your support by reminding them that they've got this, no matter how tough it feels.

Offer Help

Like we've stated previously, we work from different backgrounds now, and it's challenging. There could be a sick parent at home, kids that need constant attention, and all sorts of household chores from cooking to cleaning to deal alongside your daily set of deadlines given from work. 

So, whenever it feels like your coworker needs help, offer it in any way you can. If you've got some time to spare, see whether there's an opportunity to collaborate with him/her to complete a task, which will take a lot of weight off their shoulders. 

Or, it could be something simple like "how are you holding up?" or "you look a bit down today, anything I can do to help?." Even if they can manage the situation, that level of emotional support is much needed these days. Becoming an empathetic human will make you an empathetic coworker. It's simple like that.

However, when the help is offered to you, make sure that you don't take it for granted or make a habit out of it. Do not see it as an opportunity to dump more and more work on them, so you can relax. Your colleague supported you out of the good of his/her heart, and make sure you return the favour at least by saying "thank you."

Be Forgiving & Grateful

We're all trying our best to adapt to the new world, and while doing so, it's only natural to make a mistake or two. There could be employees who have buggy internet connections and laggy home computers. Some might be experiencing bad weather conditions or power cuts. Such scenarios are beyond their control. 

In such cases, take the time to check in, and be forgiving, without throwing harsh words in their way for dropping the ball. If possible, help them resolve those problems. More importantly, appreciate and be grateful for all the efforts that they're making to deliver their work amid these problems. 

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