Without question, working from home is an incredible experience. You can craft amazing ideas on a flexible schedule, and deliver truly groundbreaking work from the comfort of your couch, whether you’re answering customer service emails or intensely writing code.
Like handwriting skills or phone number memorization, working from home can kill something you really need: Social skills. If you’re going into an office once a week, once a month or even once every quarter, here’s how to make your visits fun, productive and social.
1. Have some barn time
With a sister who is an avid equestrian, I’ve learned that before and after each riding lesson, horse owners love to socialize. The casual name for this is “barn time”, and horse enthusiasts spend this period waxing poetic about their latest trail ride or discussing Rustin Cohle’s philosophy-talk on True Detective. At work, set aside barn time to talk to your co-workers. Take a break, talk comics and laugh over a funny video. This will not only recharge your social batteries, but improve your work relationships.
2. Bring your ideas
One thing I truly miss about working from home is collaboration. You can spend all the Skype time in the world planning out a project, but there’s something invigorating about sitting across from someone as you strategize as a team. Before you come into the office, bring a list of suggestions and ideas for whatever you’re working on and set a time to discuss your plans. Make the list collaboration-friendly, meet with your counterparts, and plan out how you can collectively make things better.
3. Meet someone for lunch
Whenever I work at the office, I’m tempted to power through lunch while sitting at my desk. Is this more productive? Yes. Is it helpful? No. Skip the Top Ramen and can of Diet Coke and go out to eat with your co-workers. You don’t have to take a two-hour mega-lunch complete with appetizers, entrée and dessert, but spend enough time to have a good, inexpensive, light-hearted meal with the people on the other side of your emails. I freely admit that when I’m in the office, I sometimes get far less work done than when I’m working from home. However, enjoying the company of co-workers not only keeps me happy and grounded, it improves how well I work with my team down the line.