Zara Reyes, Waters Corporation
January 1, 2021

Togetherness can be explained as a state or feeling of closeness to others. It provides us with a sense of security, belongingness, support and gives us strength in difficult moments.

Right now togetherness is everything. This time last year, who would have thought 2020 would bring what it did. Social distancing is not in our nature. As humans, we are social beings who connect emotionally using our body language and verbal cues. We do not normally spend our days alone with no social interaction. The little things in life, such as the small social interactions we once had daily, now seem to belong to a distant past, and last year showed just how important it is to stay connected.

Last year I spent the first half of the year on maternity leave and the second half of the year working from home. Both were very new to me and have been challenging, hard work and lonely at times. I have been witness to just how vital feeling close to others has been. As the pandemic hit, with no family around, no work routine and a newborn, I found myself in a situation, unlike anything I have experienced before. It made me realize just how much I missed connecting with others.

At this moment in time when everyone is separated, Teams is keeping us together. Although working in isolation will take some getting used to, the fact that your teams are always on hand provides some comfort. An afternoon tea break, Friday breakfast with the team, a companywide town hall, training sessions, live usability studies, a comforting chat with a colleague, your manager always right there when you need them. Just a few clicks away.

Two years ago we struggled to take meetings remotely. Even from one company site to another. Bandwidth and technology failed us. We were connecting using the long-winded toll-free conference call systems, via Polycom with technology that couldn’t keep up or IBM notes which was older than I am, and struggled with modern concepts. Nothing compares to the ease and practicality of Microsoft Teams. Meeting room technology has finally caught up to the present and whether you’re the tech-savvy millennial or a pre-tech old schooler, Teams has unrivaled simplicity and ease of use.

In just one click of a button, you’re connected to others. You can share your screen, meet face to face, call and present to others. Finally, there are no accidental disruptions thanks to the mute button, no lost time searching for colleagues to sign a form and no last-minute meeting room search or double-booked meeting rooms resulting in an impromptu private meeting in a wide-open office. You can attend your meetings in any location where there is internet: in the comfort of your slippers, late-night meetings while feeding the baby or out walking the dog.

As we strive to keep everyone close in our more isolated lives, the appreciation for our relationships with co-workers grows. Adding personal touches to our virtual work environments has helped us get to know one another better. Setting personalized backgrounds on Teams during meetings and posting photos of our kids and pets on the social channel provides a glimpse into our home lives and have been good conversation starters, breaking down barriers that once existed. By softening the lines between work and home, we have created more inclusive environments for ourselves and teams which does wonders for our wellbeing; it is no longer work only at work and home only at home, it is now home at work and work at home. All contributing to togetherness.

Gathering in person is undeniably more enjoyable than doing so remotely, but the perception of being virtually close and connected, especially in these difficult and testing times, has definitely succeeded in creating a feeling of togetherness that is really compelling.

Here’s to a better 2021!