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Online events are not enough to keep people connected to their colleagues at work, according to a new small survey. Sixty-three percent of people who took the Clutch survey said they spend less time socializing with colleagues since the COVID-19 shutdown started. On a positive note, 52% of workers said managers are just as available now as they were during regular office operations.

Less than half of the respondents said their companies are hosting online events, and 35% are doing nothing. Companies making an effort to connect are offering these activities:

  • Professional development sessions 19%
  • Happy hours 13%
  • Activities or games 9%
  • Meals 5%

In the report on the survey, Shivbhadrasinh Gohil, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Meetanshi, a Magento development company, said his team has a “Photos at 4” event every work day. People respond to a prompt such as a favorite quarantine snack or a dream vacation. This kind of sharing creates an opportunity for co-workers to talk about something other than work.

SEE: tools to communicate virtually, with 26% saying their company has provided them with more access to communication technology in the past 30 days.

George Kuhn, the president of Drive Research, a market research firm, says his company introduced two virtual events: Social coffee hours and virtual games, providing an alternative to the standard small talk of virtual meals. Here are the details on those activities:

  • Coffee hours: These are held in the morning and people can join a shared video call and have an open work session. Nobody is required to talk, but everyone can make casual conversation as they work. Kuhn says this is a low-pressure way to give employees the feeling of working with others. Plus, “coffee hours” accommodate for teammates who may not feel comfortable during late afternoon or evening happy hours with alcohol.
  • Virtual games: Trivia, scavenger hunts, and card games provide an alternative to the standard small talk of happy hours and virtual meals. Recently, Kuhn’s company presented an Amazon gift card to the winner of a virtual scavenger hunt. Virtual games can provide a fun, competitive outlet for employees.

Compassionate and empathetic leadership is crucial to keep employees connected and on track during stressful times.

“When working remotely, it can be easy to get lost, confused, or overwhelmed without that leadership you’re used to in a normal workplace,” Chane Steiner, CEO of Crediful, a personal finance website, said in a press release.

Clutch surveyed 301 workers in the U.S. in May 2020 with most respondents working full-time. Thirty-eight percent live in the South; 27% live in the Midwest; 22% in the West; and 14% in the Northeast. Twenty-five percent of respondents are ages 18-34; 36% are ages 35-54; and 20% are 55 and older.