I’ve attached a picture of the Christmas plant at my desk that recently bloomed. Ever since one of my coworkers noticed the bud at the beginning of February, we waited anxiously to see the flower. Others in my group had shoots from the same plant that I’d taken one from but, we’d never had any of them bloom and mine was the only one that had. Finally on February 10th, it opens to show the magnificent fuchsia bloom pictured.
My plant got lots of visits for those few days and I had lots of conversations with my peers happy to see the pop of color in our office space.
I realize now that it’s these moments in between the big events of our day that build community and connection. Like most I work long hours and don’t spend much time at home. So I don’t get to know my neighbors as much as I’d like. But my work peers are like my neighbors and my extended family. Some I keep close and speak to everyday over the fence that separates the yard of our desks. Others I go out of my ways to visit, taping lightly on door frames and openings to inquire about their lives and the happenings of the day, while other I surreptitiously avoid by ducking down another hall in hopes of avoiding awkward interchanges.
Now I’m faced with how to maintain that sense of community in the midst of physical separation and the tendency for them to drift out of sight and out of mind.
One thing that I did was to start a Slack thread for us to share experiences and thoughts, little encouragements we’ve found in our day. I also have developed a tendency to connect with them slowly now, asking questions about their day, their families and their concerns before getting to the, perhaps, not so significant work issue that I’m contacting them about. These shared /giphy exchanges and conversations reminiscent of slow visits to my grandparents and other elders during my childhood now add the connection and shared experience that physical presence once brought.