How can I build relationships at work now that we all work from home?

By | October 11, 2020

I started at my company in December, and we went remote in March, so I don’t know anyone very well. I’m quite shy and feel like an outsider in group chats and on Zoom. How can I remedy this?

I have been called the career doctor by some, but personality and psychology issues are outside of my area of expertise. Here’s what I can tell you. According to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, some people who everyone think of as extroverted are actually introverted. How can that be when they seem so outgoing and social? Well, these people — whose natural inclination is not to be very social and whose comfort zone at a cocktail party is to stand in a corner or find one person they know and cling to them like a mussel on a seabed (don’t ask; it’s the first clingy thing that came to mind) — work hard at overcoming that tendency. It can be exhausting and take a lot of mental energy, but the only way to develop relationships is to put yourself out there. It doesn’t mean you have to act out — you can be the quiet one on the team — but if you don’t at least participate, then you won’t have a friend group. (There is no charge for this consultation.)

We are working back in the office but there is now zero atmosphere. We are at widely spaced-out desks and have to wear masks when walking around. Any ideas for how we can get some camaraderie?

What, is everyone walking around like zombies or something? C’mon, people, there shouldn’t be any touching at work anyway, so keeping 6 feet apart is probably a good thing to avoid employee-relations issues. And just think about all of the facial expressions you don’t have to worry about, like when your co-worker says something stupid in the next meeting. But seriously, what do you and your friends do? You can still have socially distanced happy hours and meals to help break the ice. We are social creatures, we need to engage, so get a little creative — maybe even come up with some new hand signals.

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Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive. E-mail your questions to Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at, dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work.

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