SURVEY SAYS: Preserving Coworker Connections

NEWSDash readers share ways their companies are attempting to preserve coworkers’ connections.

A recent survey found employees are missing social connections with coworkers and say it is affecting company culture.

Last week, I asked NEWSDash readers, “Are you maintaining social relationships with your coworkers?” I also asked, “Has your company hosted any virtual social events?”

More than four in 10 respondents (44.8%) work in a plan sponsor role, 34.5% work with recordkeepers/TPAs/investment consultants, 17.2% are advisers/consultants and 3.4% are attorneys.

The majority (86.7%) said they are maintaining, either in person or virtually, social relationships they have with coworkers.

Four in 10 reported their companies have hosted no virtual social events. Nearly half (46.7%) said their companies are hosting virtual happy hours, three in 10 indicated their firms are hosting virtual games and 13.3% each said their companies are hosting virtual coffee breaks and meals.

Asked to share examples of virtual games or other events their firms have held, some respondents listed team or company meetings. However, responding readers shared the following virtual non-work-related events:

  • Show & Tell, Meet the Pets, Dance Contest
  • Our Department holds a virtual happy hour every Friday.
  • A virtual happy hour for the department; our team has had a coffee break with our company President; we played BINGO at another event.
  • Our Sales and Marketing department get together once a week to have a happy hour after-hour event. Gives us a chance to connect and not talk shop. Also, our company has had two monthly wellness challenges where we are randomly assigned to a group of coworkers for a team of four. We have to have weekly touch base meetings to fulfill the requirements of the challenge. That gives us a chance to meet other people we normally wouldn’t talk/work with normally.
  • Regular happy hours are the norm at my company. Sometimes large groups, sometimes smaller groups. We’ve played trivia games virtually. My HR department has also sponsored email games like guess the baby picture and name your coworker by one random fact about them. The activities have been fun and helps me feel connected.
  • Open site for employees to post questions, games, share ideas, photos, all very funny
  • Just happy hours, alcohol optional. But we do talk about what we’re drinking, what’s behind us in our “office”, etc. More fun when the young ‘uns show up. (I’m not one of them!)
  • Developing an online cookbook for everyone to share favorite “work-from-home” recipes. Playing an online “did you know this about me” game after a virtual staff meeting.
  • Scattegories, Family Feud, Bingo, Risk, Match Game
  • We have done online bingo and themed happy hours in addition to regular team meetings
  • We have had a “Get Movin’ Challenge” where we receive 10 activities each week. If you complete 8 of them you are entered into a drawing for a gift card. They range from meditating for 15 minutes, doing neck/shoulder stretches during a virtual meeting, push-up/sit-ups etc. And there are links to resources and apps to help. It has been great!

All but a few readers who chose to leave verbatim comments miss the physical presence and/or social connection with coworkers. Those who are maintaining virtual and visual connections; however, say it helps. And some note it has given them a different view of their coworkers. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “Our team has connected everyday via Teams. Don’t be afraid to turn on the camera!”

Thanks so much to everyone who responded to the survey!


While I miss the ability to do “drive-bys” and get quick answers to questions, the coworkers that I truly have a social relationship with are easy to keep going. Those that are just more along the coworker lines require a bit more effort and I must say perceptions of individuals have changed a bit.

It is important to maintain the social relationships. I think you can even build better relationships as you have to reach out to everyone on the team even those that used to sit next to you via chat, e-mail or call. So why not reach out to someone in a different office. We have also done a daily huddle call with everyone on our team, and it has been great to make sure we are all on the same page and touch base often.

It’s certainly not the same when social relationships revolve around a set time (i.e., scheduling time on a videoconference); I really miss that day-to-day interaction with folks for whom I have a more casual relationship. And as a presenter, I really miss seeing an in-person audience! That was how I was able to get to know folks, and I feel much of that has been lost.

I am now much happier. My interactions with coworkers are limited to only what is necessary. Yea!

I work in the same large space with one other person. We try and text once in a while just to check in. In June, I will not see her in person at all.

It’s important as it helps maintain the balance of individual productivity and team success: understanding our “outside work” activities informs our motivations in the workplace.

They may drive you crazy at work, but you’re missing them now, aren’t you???

My co-workers are not worth having any relationship.

We chat through IM and text daily. I sincerely miss in person interactions with them.

Virtual meetings started off awkward, but as we all get into a rhythm and accustomed to them they are becoming more natural.

I work at reaching out to coworkers. I have a regular rotation of friends that I text, jabber and meet with for virtual drinks. We are all looking out for each other and asking after each other’s health and wellbeing. I miss seeing everyone in person, but the constant contact makes a big difference!

Message or call frequently

I would like to be back in the office now and then so that interactions would seem more natural. But I’m not sure when that will feel safe again.

It’s not easy to maintain social relationships virtually, but can be done with a little extra effort.

Most of our individual and team meetings are conducted via video conferencing allowing us to remain visually connected.

Our team has connected everyday via Teams. Don’t be afraid to turn on the camera!

It is much harder and less natural to maintain social relationships virtually in the business world. I’m used to saying good morning when co-workers come in and asking about their day, kids, current events, etc., naturally during the day on a short break. I’m less likely to pick up the phone and call, just to touch base socially.

Skype and Teams has kept me in touch with co-workers virtually. However, if/when we get back to the office, I feel as if we will all be new hires, learning the “new office normal.”

We are world-wide and I don’t usually work with colleagues who sit in my physical presence so I have always virtually connected with remote colleagues through remote happy hours and such – this is nothing new for me.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.