Employees’ worlds shrank as a result of remote working during the pandemic. Some colleagues now feel as if they don’t exist in the daily lives of their coworkers, and this is having an effect. Communication with coworkers used to be expected as part of the office routine.

Conversations in the coffee shop, shared birthday cakes, and a shared stroll to the car park at the end of the day allowed brief opportunities to connect outside of the office. Employees had at least some coworkers with whom they could exchange a few casual words throughout the workday, even if they didn’t directly work together or were on the same team. That has altered as a result of the shift to remote work. Employees now connect with the people with whom they share responsibilities via virtual channels, in a much more segregated manner. Many people’s work worlds have shrunk – no more “just because” discussions with the woman in IT or the guy in accounting – since there is no work-related motivation to seek out colleagues who aren’t connected to their roles and workloads. Colleagues who used to be modest – but vital – aspects of workers’ office lives have effectively vanished.

It’s apparent that this has an impact on employees; research reveals that many remote workers feel disconnected from their teams and organizations. Slacking or Zooming a coworker you don’t know well for no reason other than work is a challenging challenge to solve — after all, it could feel strange. Finding means to rebuild these post-pandemic work networks, on the other hand, may be critical to long-term workplace happiness.