Save the Day with Virtual Happy Hours

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Remote jobs don’t leave a lot of room for socialization. Sure, you join online meetings and share five minutes of personal talk at the beginning of each reunion, but that’s not exactly the recipe for making friends. Or, that’s what I’d thought before 2020 happened.

I was a freelancer for more than four years when the pandemic hit. I was used to being alone all day, working from my kitchen table, and having my coffee alone while scrolling Facebook and watching YouTube videos (no, TikTok wasn’t a thing back then). I wasn’t missing the water cooler chats or meeting people in person. I had had enough of the “office atmosphere” as an employee, and I was enjoying the silence of freelancing with no regrets.

When I understood the pandemic was here to stay, I started to miss people — the small talk between tasks and work calls. And, unfortunately, I had nowhere to go and no one to call. Or, at least, I didn’t realize I had people I could reach out to, not yet.

Virtual Happy Hour Saved the Day — and the Year

I got lucky. I was soon to discover that I wasn’t the only one feeling lonely during lockdown. I’d been working with an agency for some time, and the boss, Julie, suggested we all gather for virtual Happy Hour Fridays after work.

Due to the time zone difference, for me, happy hour would start at 11 p.m. So, I decided to give it a try, but with no serious thought of attending more than once or twice. It wasn’t until I joined the first video call that I started to understand how much I’d missed water cooler chats. And, what was supposed to be a one-time event became a regular meeting Friday after Friday. In fact, it’s still going on after more than 18 months.

We might skip a call here and there, but overall, we’ve made a habit of seeing each other every week, sharing a glass of wine or tea, and talking non-work stuff. We became friends — a group of people from three continents, laughing and chatting about our corners of the world. Life has changed a lot since the pandemic started, and I’m happy we can still find the time to catch up outside work hours.

Until We Get to Travel Again

Happy hour with my team at Impressa Solutions helped me counter the effects of the many lockdowns we’ve gone through. We even had a virtual Christmas party last year, as none of us could travel or see family due to restrictions. I felt less lonely knowing that different people in different countries were going through the same things that I was. Anxiety and fear feel less heavy when you have a safe place to talk about them.

These virtual meetings played an essential role in my mental sanity. I’ll always be grateful to be part of a team that puts people first.

Now, I want to meet each one of them in person. I don’t know how or when it’ll happen because travel restrictions aren’t the only obstacle when planning a trip halfway around the world. During a year with fewer battles to fight, I try to remember that I wasn’t alone on the worst days. And, I promise myself not to go back to being alone on the good ones.

Tags: Friends, Working From Home

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Written By

Teodora Ema Pirciu

Teodora is a content marketer, ex-pat, and day-dreamer, with a passion for language learning, who loves writing stories. See Full Bio

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