Steve Jobs put all the toilets in the middle of his new Apple headquarters, so people had to interact with others from different parts of the company. Interaction is important, and it’s pretty hard right now while working from home. Chance encounters at the proverbial water cooler, passing in the hallway, or waiting online for lunch are few and far between these days.

Relationships and trust are built over time by working together and being in fairly close proximity to each other sometimes. It’s hard to keep relationships strong with greater distance. Think about it; you get to know your coworkers or peers as actual humans during the time before the professor arrives, lingering after a meeting, or in the elevator.

This happens less in conference calls or video calls where people show up close to when the meeting begins and leave immediately after. If you actually reach out to someone outside the confined of a scheduled work call or meeting, you make excuses as to why you’re contacting them. It’s less organic. There’s a need to be deliberate about relationship building.

Here are some “excuses” or ways to catch up with coworkers:

  • Virtual hallways. Agree to wander through the same video chat room or Zoom meeting room or the like at the same time.
  • After Work Drink. Zoom call where everyone brings their own beverage of choice. You can even play games.
  • Birthdays. Call or text on birthdays.
  • Interests. Send people news or articles on things of interest to you or them. Leave your point of view or let them know you were thinking of them.