How Has Remote Work Impacted Your Friendships?

With remote work gaining popularity due to the pandemic, some employers are worried about weakening relationships between employees. But could it be impacting friendships?

For many adults, the workplace is one of the only places to consistently meet new people. Some coworkers may become friendly, and might even go so far as to socialize together outside of the office. Many deep, meaningful friendships have started in the halls at work.

Remote work threatens to change that. If you only interact with people over an online chat or in a group conference call, there are fewer opportunities to develop relationships.

Employers fear that may lead to a lack of cohesion in work-based teams. That may be the case, but it may also lead to shallow, superficial interpersonal relationships that never have the chance to grow into something deeper.

Studies have shown that the number of people — particularly men — suffering from loneliness and depression is on the rise. If one of the few opportunities for making friends is reduced or even removed, what might that mean for this data?

Of course, this concern may be overblown. People can make real, strong connections with people they mostly interact with online. It is also true that a workplace may not be the best place to look for friendships.

What do you think? Is working remotely leading to weaker connections between people, and possibly fewer friendships? Or should that be irrelevant to making friends?

Related questions: How does your personal life influence your work life? How has remote work changed your workplace culture? What makes a friendship? How do you make friends as an adult?

How Do You Strengthen A Connection With Someone?

If there is someone you would like to bond with, how do you make that happen? What are the hallmarks of a deep and powerful connection?

Human beings are social creatures. As individuals, we crave connection with other humans, or even with other species.

As part of our social lives, we create and maintain relationships with dozens, or even hundreds of people. That might include, but is not limited to: family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and pets.

Creating a connection is pretty easy. At a social function, you might strike up a conversation, share a laugh or two, and exchange names.

Strengthening that relationship, however, is a different matter. All relationships need work in order to thrive. The type of work might depend on the person you are dealing with, and the nature of the existing relationship. Getting to know someone you met at a party, for example, will be quite different from the way you build a bond with a sibling.

However, a connection is a connection. Can you think of some ways you can feel closer to someone that you just met, or someone you have fallen out of touch with?

One way to think about it might be to consider what someone else might do to make you feel a close connection. Once you can think of something, doing that thing for others may help. That might be anything form a random text message, to inviting someone over for a homemade meal. Or, perhaps, asking someone to a movie or a play, or playing a board or card game with a group of people.

Each relationship is different, but there may be some commonalities. Can you think of ways to strengthen a connection with someone?

Related questions: What makes a friendship? How do you make friends as an adult? What is your relationship with your pet? How could you show your appreciation for others more?

What Are Your Social Rituals?

We humans are social creatures. As such, we find ourselves in social situations often. Are there any rituals you follow, either in preparation or in those situations?

Think about all the social situations you participate in over the course of a few weeks or months. That might include everything from a birthday party, to a sporting event to a nightclub raver. And many, many more possibilities as well, of course.

Now think about each one of those events, from planning, to preparation, to event, to afterward. Can you think of what commonalities they have? Of course, it doesn’t need to be included every single time, but you may have some activities that you do regularly, perhaps even ritualistically.

Besides being social creatures, we are also a species that values rituals. Building a routine comes naturally to us. This has a number of different advantages, including helping us not to forget important steps, as well as in maximizing our enjoyment.

Let’s say, for example, you attend a live music concert, and while you enjoy it, the music was so loud that your ears were ringing afterward. Maybe next time you bring earplugs, and you enjoy that show even more. Then you choose to make it a ritual — each time you go to a concert, you bring along ear plugs. And perhaps even additional pairs for friends that go with you.

These rituals can take any number of forms. Maybe you always wear the same pair of lucky socks. Or make a checklist of things to bring. Perhaps you take a moment in the middle of the event to appreciate what you like about it. Or write about it in a journal afterward so you remember the highlights.

Each person may have slightly — or even wholly — different things they like to do in social situations. Can you think of ones that you do, or that you have seen in a partner, a parent, or a close friend? What are your social rituals?

Related questions: What is the most fun thing you’ve done this week? How important is ceremony? Introvert or extrovert? What is your favorite shared experience?

Do You Replace What You Have Lost?

We all have experience with loss.  When you have lost something — a pet, a loved one, a friendship — do you attempt to replace it?

In one sense, life is just an accumulation of various kinds of loss. Over the course of your life span, you will, at one point or another, lose just about everything, from your car keys, to your innocence, to your parents.

Since we all have experience with loss, we also can learn to deal with it. Some losses are more impactful than others, while some are downright trivial.

Replacement is obvious in some cases. Of course you replace your credit cards if you lose your wallet. Of course you send out your resume if you lose your job.

However, in some cases, particularly if the losses are emotional and not physical, it is not so clear. If you are emotionally devastated at the loss of a beloved pet, do you get another one? Or is the emotional wound so raw that you cannot risk getting hurt again?

Similarly, as friendships come to an end, it may not be clear that you will make new friends. For most people, making new friends gets more rare the older you get. Is that because you get pickier when choosing who to spend your time with? Or is it something else?

Generally, how do you deal with loss? Is your instinct to try and replace the thing that is lost? Or do you try to forget about it, and concentrate on other areas of your life?

Related questions: What would you do if you lost part of yourself? How do you deal with loss? What can you learn from loss? What do you miss? Who do you miss?

Who Do You Want To Reestablish Contact With?

Of all the people you have known over your lifetime, are there people you have lost touch with that you would like to contact once again?

As social animals, the relationships we have with others are tremendously important. Part of what makes life enjoyable is the pleasure we get from the presence of other people. The company of a good friend is irreplaceable.

And yet, as the years go by, we might lose touch with one or more of these people. There are many reasons why this might happen: someone moves away. Busy lives and/or full schedules. A falling out over religion, or politics, or some other personal matter. You can probably think of others.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘Are we too busy?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What are our responsibilities to others?’


Technology is a two-edged sword when it comes to maintaining relationships.

In some ways, it is easier than ever to stay in touch. People carry phones with them everywhere. Video conferencing is ubiquitous. Sending a text message or an email is fast and easy, and messages can travel around the world in a matter of moments.

However, social media — despite the name — inhibits social interaction. If you can read a post, scroll though someone’s feed, or watch a recording, why would you need additional contact? In fact, calls are frowned upon in favor of texts, yet a text message is much less interactive than a call.

Is there someone — or multiple someones — from your life that you wish you were more frequently in touch with? Whose company you miss, but for whatever reason you are no longer in regular contact?

If a good friend, or mentor, or confidant, has died, of course, they are beyond connection. Short of that, can you pinpoint exactly why you lost touch with someone you like? And what, if anything, might you do to change that?

Related questions: Who do you miss? What do you get out of social media? What are our responsibilities to others? Are we too busy?