Businesses Getting Creative to Overcome 

Workplace Disconnection 

Three Tips to Help Restore Energy & Employee Interaction in the Virtual Workplace

A year following the pandemic, many businesses are adding virtual creativity to the top of their agenda to help reignite human connection and boost employee morale. According to a recent WSJ story,  a national poll found 65 percent of workers who shifted to remote work due to the pandemic said they feel less connected to their colleagues now.

Digital wellness expert Mark Ostach, works to restore energy and team interaction—especially today—as most employees are working virtually and some will be moving to a hybrid work setting in the second half of the year. 

“I’m continuing to get urgent calls from companies about how their teams are growing apart and the need to re-engage,” said Ostach. “Our digital life can be extremely demanding. We communicate at all hours of the day expecting immediate responses. To top things off, many of us are suffering from Zoom fatigue and nearing a state of burnout. My focus is to help reduce digital burnout and encourage empathy and compassion in the workplace.”

Julie Norris, Chief Attorney Development and Recruitment Officer with Honigman LLP, a national law firm headquartered in Detroit, Michigan shared, “We were looking for innovative ways to both connect with each other and be mindful of the importance of disconnecting from work. We hired Ostach to virtually train our attorneys across six different practice groups within Michigan and Chicago. The goal was to reconnect attorneys who were used to being together physically but now were feeling more isolated and disconnected after a year of working virtually.” 

According to Ostach, organizations like Honigman LLP can’t just do business as usual. “This isn’t the time to hold Zoom calls with a packed agenda and zero time for human connection,” said Ostach. “Leaders today need to keep employees motivated by establishing a creative way to invite their team to share more meaningful connections and be open about topics like digital burnout.”

“We were concerned about our employees mental and digital health and wanted to address these topics to help prevent people from burning out,” said Matthew Abbene, VP of Global Sales and Services at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Ostach’s message was right on the spot for our global audience”

Ostach’s schedule has been busy with virtual training for energy companies, state governmental agencies, and global corporations like Universal Studios, BASF, Thermo Fisher Scientific, AllState, Quicken Loans and Hitachi Vantara. Ostach offers three tips to help businesses reignite human connection when holding a virtual meeting:

  1. Ignite the chat box early

The sooner you can get people engaged in the chat box the better. For larger meetings, ask people to share one thing they are feeling grateful for before the meeting gets started. This helps people break the chat box barrier before the event has begun. It also gives people permission to engage over chat throughout the entire agenda. 

  1. Use breakout rooms when possible

Before reviewing the current quarters KPI’s invite people into a breakout room icebreaker centered around vulnerability. One example of this is a 10-minute exercise called, “If You Really Knew Me”. In small breakout rooms of five to eight people, invite each person to share statements that begin with the phrase, “If you really knew me.” The responses people share may be as simple as “If you really knew me, you’d know that I’m left-handed,” or as vulnerable as, “If you really knew me you’d know that I struggle with seasonal depression.” This often leaves people learning new things about each other and connecting on common grounds they didn’t even know they stood on!

  1. Incorporate a brief virtual activity

Research shows that when we can create a sense of playfulness it can spark our ability to be more creative & collaborative. Take five minutes and incorporate a brief activity into your next virtual meeting. It could be celebratory in nature like making “paper plate awards” for your coworkers or something more lighthearted like playing a brief game of True and/or False. For bonus points, you can even rent a farm animal to join your virtual event for a moment of surprise and delight! 

“Ostach’s authentic style of teaching helped invite vulnerability and human connection into our virtual event. It was exactly what our team needed to feel reconnected to each other,” added Norris.

Digital Wellness Expert Mark Ostach in the News: