Staying Connected, Even Apart

The Downtown Alliance opened LMHQ — Lower Manhattan Headquarters — in 2015 as the central meeting place for the dynamic Lower Manhattan community to come together to collaborate, brainstorm and learn from one another. In an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, LMHQ is temporarily closed. 

But it is clear that in these uncertain times, we need the support of our community more than ever. So what can you do to stay connected while responsibly adhering to social distancing and working remotely?

You are likely already using a variety of communication platforms such as Gmail, Google Hangouts, Zoom and Slack to stay in communication with coworkers. These services allow for (relatively) seamless business meetings and interactions. But they can also provide that essential element of office culture and connectedness.

Given the stressful, volatile climate, it’s important to pay attention to your teammates’ emotions and well-being. As the Society for Scholarly Publishing notes, we’re less likely to notice when someone is bored, frustrated or overwhelmed in a remote context, so it’s important to foster casual interactions individually and collectively. One solution? Schedule non-work-related video calls like virtual coffee breaks and BYOB happy hours. Fully-remote organization Wethos, which uses Slack, encourages employees to share “photos of their office pets, homemade meals, and favorite outfits — things we might otherwise miss without a physical space.” Want recommendations for shows to binge-watch, books to breeze through or podcast series to obsess over? Create a Slack channel for sharing the things you love.

While connecting with colleagues and maintaining an office culture is vital, there is more to life than work. End a long day of working remotely with a Google Hangouts game night or dinner with friends and family. Recreate your daily gym-based sweat session with live-streamed fitness classes, or clear your mind with group meditation classes. Interrupt the newstream with what J. Kelly Hoey, author of “Build Your Dream Network” and good friend of LMHQ, calls  “Just Checking In” (JCI) texts, emails and calls: “Sometimes JCI is all that is needed to simply know that someone is thinking of you and wondering what you’re up to,” Hoey wrote in a recent newsletter.

Not only do these small gestures go a long way in maintaining well-being, they also create real contributions to society during this strange time. “By distancing yourself, you’re contributing to a societal act — a collective action — that is not only protecting yourself, but protecting others,” Ashwin Vasan, president and CEO of mental health nonprofit Fountain House, explained to the Society for Scholarly Publishing. “If we can see some community in that, and see some connectedness in that, I hope that’s a motivating and aspirational way of looking at something that is inherently difficult.”

You can find more ways to stay connected and additional resources for managing through the coronavirus pandemic on LMHQ’s website.